Citizens and Street-level Bureaucracies as Co-producers of Democracy and Welfare: International Approaches to Promoting Children’s Participation in Child Welfare

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This paper examines how public child welfare and non-governmental organizations facilitate children’s participation in decisions about children’s lives and children’s involvement in changing child welfare policies and practices. It aims to contribute to the scholarship about how street-level bureaucracies can facilitate democratization processes and child welfare in different parts of the world by promoting the participation of marginalized and empowered children. The countries we discuss include Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Nicaragua, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States.
We analyze the conditions in which children’s participation flourishes, which we call “participation generators.” Participation generators include facilitatory and transformative legal, policy, and practice approaches and capacity-building of children and adults. Participatory professional practices are characterized by caring, consistent, and respectful professional attitudes, relationships, and methods allowing all children to participate regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, gender identity, migrant background, sexuality, etc. Professional attitudes towards children promoting participation are nurturing and free of biases, labeling, and stigmatizing children. Creative practice approaches combining playful visual and non-verbal modes with verbal modes of expression encourage children’s involvement.
Children are involved in changing child welfare systems in several ways. For example, children who are “experts of experience” of the child welfare system educate social work professionals in Norway and evaluate and develop a new social work practice approach in Denmark. Care leavers shape child protection law and policy in Israel. Children draw on several resources, which we call “participatory capital,” including emotional, financial, time, and logistical supports for children. Children’s participatory capital varies depending on their age, ethnicity, gender, nationality, etc. It encompasses children’s creativity, capacities, strengths, skills, cooperation with other children, and partnerships with adults working in non-governmental organizations, public child welfare agencies, and other government entities.
Periode14 jun. 202216 jun. 2022
Begivenhedstitel4th Street-level Bureaucracy Conference.
PlaceringKøbenhavn, DanmarkVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • Undersøgelsesdesign, teori og metode
  • Socialt arbejde og sociale forhold
  • Børn og unge