Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN26_06: Child and youth welfare
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Giuseppe Moro, Università di Bari Aldo Moro
Location: GM.307
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Who Benefits From Child And Youth Welfare In Germany? An Analysis Of Social Inequalities Based On New Standardized Data

Tobias Sander1, Jan Weckwerth2

1International University of Cooperative Education, Darmstadt and Berlin, Germany; 2University of Göttingen, Germany

Besides the central social securities regarding (un)employment, health and (old) age, the German welfare state provides substantial services in the field of child and youth welfare beyond formal education. Costs have increased considerably in recent decades, which is paradoxically partly a result of concerns about a subsequent, and even more cost-intensive, need of help.

The educational family support is labeled as a ‘help for all’, not only for the lower classes. In fact, the paper argues that these public-sector services are accessed in a V-shape-distribution: In addition to the lower classes as the typical recipients, the highly educated middle classes benefit in particular from these services. Why are the lower middle classes underrepresented? To explain these findings, data from the panel-study ‘families in Germany’ is evaluated for the first time. The paper applies different concepts of social inequality to this data and deals with the specific views of social inequality in German social work.

A modern-day Pied Piper? Migrants to Norway, the Child Welfare Services, and rumor

Anders Vassenden1, Gunn Vedøy2, Ayan Handulle1

1University of Stavanger, Norway; 2Norsk Lærerakademi, Norway

Numerous media accounts and a growing body of research reveal that many migrants to Norway are distrustful of the country’s Child Welfare Services (CWS). Migrants’ and ethnic minorities’ fear of the CWS’s equivalents has been noted in other countries, too, most notably the US, but as a social problem and sociological question, it is under-theorized and its causes are not well understood. Using a unique combination of survey data on trust in Norway’s CWS among migrants and non-migrants, and qualitative interviews and ethnography with migrant associations and Somali parents, this paper provides novel findings and theoretical interpretations of this social problem. We highlight an aspect that prior research has neglected, namely the role and impact of rumor. Using regression analysis, we first show that exposure to other people’s stories about the CWS reduces individuals’ trust in the agency to a considerable extent. The reasons for this are found in the qualitative data we collected: they show that distrust of the CWS needs to be understood as a social dynamic in which bonding social capital, stigma, shame and stories play important roles. The result is very little discussion among parents and their acquaintances about their positive or non-consequential encounters with the CWS and a corresponding overemphasis of drama and traumatic experiences, such as care orders and forced removals. In conclusion, we call for research on this topic in the virtual world, as stories and rumor about the CWS proliferate on social media and thus have unbounded dissemination potential.

Not In Charge, But Affected: Open Youth Work And Young Refugees in Germany

Andreas Mairhofer

German Youth Institute, Germany

Supporting and integrating refugees is an issue that concerns the whole of society. But formally, as long as the refugees are (unaccompanied) minors, responsibility lies with the child and youth welfare system. Primarily, local authorities’ Child and Youth Welfare Services are in charge of providing shelter and support. Additionally, public and private child welfare organizations are involved in providing accommodation, education, psychosocial support, leisure time activities and so on. Amongst these are open youth work institutions, e.g. youth clubs.

Using the example of open youth work, I will illustrate how broader societal developments affect welfare sectors, even if they are not directly ‘connected’ to these issues. There has been ample political reforms of the (child) welfare system in the light of the growing number of refugees, but not with regard to the field of youth work. Nevertheless, the activities and even the structure of the field are changing, although the changes were neither politically intended nor are they being recognized.

My presentation will be structured as follows: I will first outline the main services and responsibilities for young refugees in Germany. Second, I will introduce the field of open youth work. Finally, I will describe how youth work organizations have been affected by and have reacted to the arrival of thousands of minor refugees from 2015 onwards. I will do this using data from a national survey on youth work provisions, carried out in 2018.

Sustainability Dilemmas of a Program to Combat Child Poverty

Márta Kiss1,2, Éva Perpék1,2

1Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social Sciences; 2Corvinus University of Budapest

The sustainability of public-funded projects is not only an expectation of the financers and duty of the implementers, but because of large scale investments also a kind of moral issue. In our concept, sustainability as a process primarily means a durable continuity of interventions which can be realized in several forms and degrees. Additionally, it is a dynamic and cyclical process responding to the needs of the target group(s) during which the original mission of the project does not change. Our research aims at exploring sustainability angles of the Hungarian Program to Combat Child Poverty. This program was and still is implemented in disadvantaged subregions of the country. The main goal of the program is to alleviate child poverty and level social inequalities. The program is mainly realized by strengthening the mainstream social services institutions. Our research was conducted in 9 selected subregions in 2015. To tackle sustainability aspects of the program we used qualitative methods: 90 semi-structured thematic interviews and observation in the field. In our presentation, we analyze both general and specific factors essentially affecting the program's sustainability. First, we introduce external and internal elements and limits of the project maintenance. Then we point out the ways in which the local programs responded to the challenge of sustainability. Finally, we present preliminary conclusions of a new fieldwork accomplished in 6 subregions, where we started longitudinal research in 2018. In this phase of the research we examined the design and set up of new projects to Combat Child Poverty.

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