Defining Children in Youth Care Interventions

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Marit HOPMAN , Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Utrecht, Netherlands
Trudie KNIJN , Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Utrecht, Netherlands
Within welfare states, attention for the development and upbringing of children is increasing. On the one hand, scientific disciplines such as developmental psychology have professionalized child development and concurrently, a proto-professionalization of parenting has taken place. On the other hand, the same attention for development can be found in governmental policies, resulting from the influence of child investment theories. Consequently, parenting support interventions—aiming at parents in their central role as child raisers—have gained in importance. These interventions mostly respond to the child rearing questions of parents. Also, interventions are often selected based on their effectiveness. Although these issues are essential in organizing youth care, this approach fails to acknowledge how these interventions perceive and define children and childhood, and how this effects the ways in which children are raised and develop. This paper addresses two of the theme-related questions:
  1. What are the dominant definitions of children’s problem’s and which ideas of social order do they respond to?
  2. How do stocks of professional knowledge as well as the practices of intervention on children’s problems evolve over time?

The questions are addressed by using both quantitative and qualitative data from the international research project “Governing New Social Risks”, which centers on the turn to parenting from the 1990’s onwards. In the quantitative part, results of the analysis of parenting support interventions are presented. For example, changes in scientific theories underlying the interventions help us in understanding how children are being defined. In the qualitative part we discuss data gathered through interviews with (academic) experts and relevant decision makers about dominant views and changes in the perception of children and families and of state-family relations. We focus specifically on the Netherlands, but information from the other countries included in this research project will be addressed as well when applicable.