Child Investment in Youth Care Services: Dilemma's and Consequences

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:42 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Marit HOPMAN , Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Utrecht, Netherlands
Trudie KNIJN , Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Utrecht, Netherlands
Welfare states have (re-)invented family policy as a response to the notion that children are the social, cultural and economic capital of societies. Consequently, the healthy development of children is an important aim in policies regarding child care, and the role of parents in safeguarding their children’s development is stressed.

For professionals working in the field of youth care this change in policy aims has had its effects on the way their profession is organized and carried out:

  1. more attention is directed towards preventive and early interventions—in order to ensure the best possible developmental trajectory—as opposed to curative interventions.
  2. There is a stronger emphasis on effectiveness and evidence based practices and its concurrent emphasis on protocols and guidelines. At the same time however, professionals are expected to adjust their work to the demands of parents, and to serve parental expectations and wishes.
  3. In line with this, professionals find themselves balancing “distance” and “control”: working with parents presupposes that professionals can’t be directive and should refrain from being too authorative. Yet, professionals are also expected to intervene when children are at risk, and policy measures emphasize risk-assessments and inter-organizational information exchange.

The international research project “Governing New Social Risks” centers on this turn to parenting. In our paper we will discuss how these changes and dilemmas have affected the way in which professionals define and organize their own profession, and their relation with parents and families. Based on interviews with (academic) parenting experts, relevant policy makers and professionals themselves, we will present our findings on how professionals give form to these policy changes. Although the turn to parenting takes place throughout welfare states, we will focus on the Netherlands as a case example. However, data from the other European countries included in this international research project, will be taken into account.