Vulnerable Children as a Downside of Doing Family: How does assessment of a child endangerment succeed? – Kadera, Stepanka (Munich/GER)
The healthy growing up of children as well as the effective protection of child well-being correspond to the right of every child to development and growth. However, there are children, whose well-being we have to be concerned about. The discussion of the downside of doing family focuses on family practices that can harm the individuals involved (Kindler & Eppinger, 2020) and that can cause severe childhood distress (Witt, Sachser, Plener, Brähler & Fegert, 2019). Youth Welfare Offices (Jugendämter) as a key institutions for child protection at the local level in Germany (Witte, Miehlbrandt, van Santen & Kindler, 2018) have identified a child welfare risk in 2019 in around 55,500 children and young people-ten percent more cases than in 2018 (Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 2020). However, according to the results of a self-evaluation conducted by ASD employees (employees of General Social Service) in the project “Quality development in child protection in Baden-Württemberg”1, 50.3 % of the employees needed support in assessing the risk of harm (Eppinger, Nemeth, Kadera, Gerber & Kindler, 2019). How does assessment of a child endangerment succeed? The results of the study show that employees need less support in risk assessment if implemented procedures are suitable for practical use. Factors as knowledge of the likelihood of repeated abuse or neglect as well as knowledge of the quality of the parent-child relationship further decrease the employee’s need of support. The paper presents regression analysis findings and highlights implications for quality development and professionalization of child protection.
1The project was funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration Baden-Württemberg and carried out 2018 – 2020 at the German Youth Institute e.V. in cooperation with the National Center for Early Prevention (NZFH).
Eppinger, S., Nemeth, S., Kadera, S., Gerber, C. & Kindler, H. (2019). Zusammenstellung vorläufiger Ergebnisse der Befragung von ASD-Fachkräften im Projekt „Qualitätsentwicklung im Kinderschutz in Baden-Württemberg“ für die Kommission Kinderschutzkommission Kinderschutz. In: Abschlussbericht der Kommission Kinderschutz. Band II: Materialien. Stuttgart: Ministerium für Soziales und Integration Baden-Württemberg. Online available at https://sozialministerium.baden-wuerttemberg.de/fileadmin/redaktion/m-sm/intern/downloads/Publikationen/Abschlussbericht_Kommission-Kinderschutz_Band-II.pdf (02.03.2020).
Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). (2020). Kinderschutz: Jugendämter melden erneut 10 % mehr Kindeswohlgefährdungen. Pressemitteilung Nr. 328 vom 27. August 2020. Online available at https://www.destatis.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2020/08/PD20_328_225.html (14.10.2020).
Kindler, H. & Eppinger, S. (2020). ‘Scheitern’ von Familie? Oder: Vom Doing zum Not Doing und Undoing Family. In K. Jurczyk (Ed.), Doing und Undoing Family. Konzeptionelle und empirische Entwicklungen (S. 141-169). Weinheim: Beltz Juventa.
Witt, A., Sachser, C., Plener, P. L., Brähler, E. & Fegert, J. M. (2019). Prävalenz und Folgen belastender Kindheitserlebnisse in der deutschen Bevölkerung. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 635–642.
Witte, S., Miehlbrandt, L. S., van Santen, E. & Kindler, H. (2018). Preventing Child Endangerment: Child Protection in Germany. In L. Merkel-Holguin, J. D. Fluke & R. D. Krugman (Ed.), Nationals Systems of Child Protection. Understanding the International Variability and Context for Developing Policy and Practice (S. 93-114). Wiesbaden: Springer.
From Parent Involvement to Family Driven Care – “Doing Family” in youth residential care – James, Sigrid / Kilian, Juri / Scholand, Marina (Kassel/GER)
In his concise critique of residential care, Barth (2005) argued that greater family involvement is “almost certainly the most important adaptation that residential care must make to bridge the evidentiary and philosophical concerns that cloud its future” (p. 159). Traditionally, residential care settings have struggled to find “the right balance” between protecting children from abusive families and involving them in their care and case planning. And while there is much agreement among child welfare experts that the involvement of parents, or, in a broader sense, the family is essential to good outcomes for children and youth in residential care, it is much less clear what form the involvement should take, i.e. who needs to be involved, who is responsible for making and maintaining contact with the family, how frequent should contact take place and in what context, etc.
This presentation has two aims: First, it will present empirical findings from a review of the research literature as well as from primary qualitative interviews with youth, parents and social workers, which were conducted as part of an Erasmus cross-national research project, to demonstrate the diverse ways in which family involvement in residential care has been operationalized – from keeping parents informed to supporting visitation and actively involving families in care and treatment. This will also include an analysis of why parents/families do not get involved and what structural, professional and personal-level (child, parent, worker) barriers to family involvement continue to exist. Secondly, more radical concepts from the international literature will be introduced that reconceptualize residential care practice in terms of family-driven care. Family-driven care is not an intervention or a program model but, first of all, a principled approach that can be realized in a diverse set of practices, i.e., embracing of the concept by families, youth, providers and administrators; fully informing families and youth about goals and involving them in all decision-making processes or even transferring decision-making to them (see Family Conferencing); allocating resources toward family driven practice; engaging/hiring parent peer partners, etc. – in short, using strategies that are aimed at engaging and strengthening families, keeping the organization focused on the needs and contributions of families, and delivering services that involve them (Kuppinger et al., 2020).
The extent to which residential care programs have adopted principles of family-driven care and operationalized them into deliverable treatment elements remains unknown but there is evidence of a lack of family-driven practices in residential programs as well as considerable variability when in fact they are implemented (Brown, Allen, Pires, & Blau, 2010). Embracing a family-driven orientation requires a paradigmatic shift from a primarily child-centered to a family-centered approach that deserves discussion from a conceptual, empirical as well as professional perspective.
Barth, R. P. (2005). Residential care: From here to eternity. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14, 158-162. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397. 2005.00355.x.
Brown, J. D., Allen, K., Pires, S. A., & Blau, G. (2010). Family-driven youth-guided practices in residential treatment: Findings from a national survey of residential treatment facilities. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 27, 149-159. DOI: 10.1080/0886571X.2010.500137 .
Kuppinger, A., Hust, J.A., Hunt, P., Mosby, P., Hammack, S. & Caldwell, B. (2020). Putting families first: Strategies to transform and advance family engagement and partnership. In B. Caldwell, R.E. Lieberman, J. Lebel & G.M. Blau (Eds.), Transforming residential interventions(pp. 8-30). New York: Routledge.
Family Life across Borders: Unaccompanied refugee minors in Germany and their transnational family connections – Seidel, Franziska Anna (Kassel/GER)
Background and purpose: Family life across borders is part of everyday life not just for many adult migrants in Germany, but also for unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) who are separated from their primary caregivers. Communication and Information Technologies (ICTs) thereby facilitate the contact between family members across borders. However, little is known about how URMs experience the absence of their family, how exactly family life takes place, and which impact the connections to their family members in countries of origin have on the URMs integration process. In addition, little knowledge exists if and how social workers support URMs in maintaining their transnational family life and how social work with transnational families takes place. This is behind the background that social workers follow the mandate to support children in their development and assist them in their individual needs. In the context of the fulfillment of “the best interest of the child”, a general aim of child protection services is that parents should be supported in the upbringing of their children to create positive living conditions for them (e.g., Article 18, CRC). Active support of transnational families does not only seem relevant when considering the principle of “the best interest of the child” but also in the context of possible family reunification.
Behind this background, the purpose of this presentation is to present preliminary findings of an ongoing dissertation project on the transnational family life of URMs in Germany and the role of social work
Method: The method for this presentation consists of a systematic literature review that has been carried out in order to determine the current state of research in this field and to identify international research on URMs and their transnational family life. In addition, qualitative data which was gathered by interviewing URMs (n=10) and Social Workers (n=15) was analyzed by using a constructivist grounded theory approach.
Results and implications: The analysis of the literature shows that transnational family life is generally a topic that has been studied by various disciplines. However, the literature review points toward the lack of social work research in this field as well as missing concepts of social work practice with transnational families in child welfare. Also, a gap in research on experiences of URMS about their transnational family life can be identified. The preliminary analysis of the qualitative material points towards the high importance of family members for URMs even across the physical distance. If possible, contact is maintained with the help of ICTs. Parents can both be identified as a stress factor as well as a supporting factor for URMs.
Adoption as Doing Family: The representation of the long-term adoption of a child in films for children and young people – Herrmann, Christina (Passau/GER)
In May 2020, the draft law to improve support for families in the event of adoption (Adoptionshilfegesetz) was passed by the German Bundestag. The aim is to promote the success of the adoption (BMSFJ 2020). Even if this change in the law was preceded by a study by the DJI, there is so far little in-depth and up-to-date knowledge about the doing family in adoptive families. One possible approach to closing this gap is the analysis of films. Films define cultural values, they provide attitude and opinion offers as well as patterns of action and identity templates. In addition, they offer adoptive families a role model for structuring relationships (Denzin 2017: 425). Films also allow scientists to look into a field that is barely or not at all accessible, such as the everyday lifestyle of families (Akremi 2019: 1203).
Children and youth films are particularly suitable for analyzing the representation of the doing family in adoptive families, as they are characterized by a high level of complexity in terms of topics and levels of interpretation, which make them interesting for adults as well. As a result, it is precisely this genre that reaches a particularly broad mass of recipients (Kümmerling-Meibauer 2010: 12f). Based on these circumstances, it can be assumed that the portrayal of the assumption of a non-biological child in children’s and youth films has an opinion-forming effect on a large part of society.
The Doing Family was exploratively reconstructed using the three children’s and youth films Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer, Maleficent and Despicable Me. The analysis was carried out with the help of sociological film analysis (Dimbath 2013) and based on the Grounded Theory Methodology according to Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin (Strauss, Corbin 1999).
The result is a phase model that depicts the creation of a familial unit of adoptive families as something crisis-ridden, which requires the common overcoming of difficulties. The cinematic representation begins with the first contact, which is characterized by a very distant relationship between children and parents and a lack of attempts to establish relationships. The beginning of the adoption relationship is further characterized by a distance relationship, which, considering the foreignness of the body, appears very realistic (Helming 2014: 77). The phase of shared experiences is filled with processes that the condition the US, which is so important for the creation of families. These include the different forms of welfare services (Jurczyk 2014: 66), joint ventures, actions and rituals (Helming 2014: 75; Keddi 2014: 97) and a common spatial level (Jürgens, 2001: 42). The crisis phase emphasizes a fragile trust in social parent-child relationships, which through the efforts of the adoptive parents leads to normalization in the form of the absence of crisis. If the three basic forms of interaction between family members, balance management, the construction of community and the displaying family are used as references, this final phase appears as a successfully established family (Jurczyk 2014).
Akremi, Leila (2019): Filme. In: Baur, Nina; Blasius, Jörg (Hg.) (2019): Handbuch Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung. 2., vollst. überarb. u. erw. Auflage 2019. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH; Springer VS. S.1203-1214.
BMSFJ 2020: Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Hilfen für Familien bei Adoption (Adoptionshilfe-Gesetz). Online verfügbar unter: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/service/gesetze/gesetz-zur-verbesserung-der-hilfen-fuer-familien-bei-adoption–adoptionshilfe-gesetz-/138362#:~:text=28.05.2020%20Gesetz%20Entwurf%20Gesetz,bei%20Adoption%20(Adoptionshilfe%2DGesetz)&text=Der%20Deutsche%20Bundestag%20hat%20am,(Adoptionshilfe%2DGesetz)%20beschlossen. (11.11.2020)
Denzin, Norman K. (2000): Reading Film –Filme und Videos als sozialwissenschaftliches Erfahrungsmaterial, in: Flick, Uwe; Kardorff, Ernst von; Steinke, Ines (Hrsg.), Qualitative Forschung. Ein Handbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg, S.416-428.
Dimbath, Oliver (2013): Methodologischer Voyeurismus. Überlegungen zu einer Neuausrichtung soziologischer Filmanalyse. In: Soziale Welt (64), S. 401–415.
Helming, Elisabeth (2014): Alltagspraxis von Pflegefamilien: Vulkane, Eisberge und der sanfte Sog der Beiläufigkeit. In: Jurczyk, Karin; Lange, Andreas; Thiessen, Barbara (Hg.): Doing Family. Warum Familienleben heute nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa. S.71-94.
Jurczyk, Karin (2014): Familie als Herstellungsleistung. Hintergründe und Konturen einer neuen Perspektive auf Familie. In: Jurczyk, Karin; Lange, Andreas; Thiessen, Barbara (Hg.): Doing Family. Warum Familienleben heute nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa. S. 50-70.
Keddi, Barbara (2014): Familiale Lebensführung als alltägliche Herausforderung. Von der mikrosoziologischen Nahaufnahme zur praxeologischen Repräsentativstudie. In: Jurczyk, Karin; Lange, Andreas; Thiessen, Barbara (Hg.): Doing Family. Warum Familienleben heute nicht mehr selbstverständlich ist. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa. S. 95-112.
Kümmerling-Meibauer, Bettina (2010): Filmgenres Kinder-und Jugendfilm. Stuttgart: Reclam (Reclams Universal-Bibliothek, 18728).
Strauss, Anselm L.; Corbin, Juliet M. (1999): Grounded Theory. Grundlagen Qualitativer Sozialforschung. Weinheim: Beltz Psychologie Verl.-Union.
Family Images and their Influence on the Making and Doing of Family in Children’s Services – Sauer, Stefanie / Risse, Frauke (Cottbus/GER)
The following work deals with the question of how social workers perceive and evaluate processes of doing family and doing kinship of their clients and in which way they might influence these processes. The impact of family images of professionals and family models on the professional acting of social workers is discussed. This work is based on the results of the qualitative research project “Family models in organizations of social work”, accomplished at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg from 2019 to 2021. Social workers in the field of social work with families (e.g. in local authority children’s services, foster care services, adoption agencies, family counselling centres) were interviewed within qualitative expert interviews. These professionals were all responsible for designing assistance and support services. Subjective experiences and professional positions of social workers were studied. The data was evaluated using the method of Philip Mayring’s for qualitative content analysis.
Families who are looking for support in children’s services of statutory and non-statutory agencies often find themselves in critical family transition situations that raise questions about the making of families. Especially non-traditional families have an increased need for advice and support. They often deal with complex coordination processes among family members and have to explain their family form to others (displaying family). Questions of affiliation and relationships of the individual family members with each other as well as processes of inclusion and exclusion (construction of commonalities / doing family / doing kinship) can be challenging for families.
The self-image of the professionals can decide whether the corresponding processes of advice and support are successfully oriented towards the child’s well-being or not. Social workers base their acting on a variety of specialist knowledge, but they also contribute their own family images, which is influenced by their family-related experiences, interpretations and ideas. Family images might impact the decision making and evaluation processes if they are not sufficiently reflected. This also applies to family models who are reflected in the organizations’ concepts. They correspond to the social ideal of successful familiarity and concepts of a traditional family. The circumstances in non-traditional families might not be taken into account if social workers orientate on the ideal of the conventional family only, leading to irritated and hindered processes of doing family. Due to a lack of images for new family forms, non-traditional families often orientate on traditional family models. They would need support by negotiating the affiliation and relationships of the individual family members.
The results of this work open the discussion on the potential of consciously taking on the perspective of doing family by social workers in the support process. They also encourage a transdisciplinary exchange on family images in social work and their visualization.
Assisting Family Care. Family Dynamics in Care Situations – Niedling, Katharina (Bielefeld/GER)
The German long-term care insurance is only a partial coverage insurance that requires private and family care services. The potential beneficiaries are therefore seen less as holders of rights and more as being responsible for their own care. This means that three-quarters of those in need of long-term care in Germany are looked after by families in their own homes. So far, research has concentrated primarily on (in-lawed) daughters who provide care. In addition, one of the most frequent care constellations in Germany is care provided by the (spouse) partner. Spouses take over the care in the first place and hand it over to the daughters (in the second place) only when they can no longer provide it. The results of studies on intergenerational care are not easily transferable to couples in a care relationship. In my contribution I ask how these couples and their children are (can be) supported in family care. Which family dynamics are effective in the care situation and which psychosocial services of social work are supportive?
Material and methods:
Ten problem-centered interviews with high narrative content were conducted with heterosexual couples aged 60-91 years, in which one partner cares for the other. Nine of the ten couples interviewed have children together. Seven of the interviewees are participants in nursing courses in which they are attended by so-called nursing trainers at home. In addition, a group discussion was held with these care trainers. All interviews were evaluated according to the documentary method.
The relationships and roles within the family have to be reorganized in the course of the parents’ need for care. This includes the renegotiation of gender-specific relationship roles and tasks within the family. However, the interviews also make clear that married couples share a common reality in which other family members are not involved. Married couples often form alliances to which the children have limited access. There is a strong relationship with each other, while the children have further social relationships, for example in professional life. Many families try to avoid placement in a care homes, but they care in the home without support. The tense situation can be eased by care trainers – without them taking on active care tasks. Rather, the aim is to provide psychosocial support for families in crisis situations (for example, discharge from hospital). The topic is often the distribution of care tasks within the family.
The preservation of existing family support structures should be supported and promoted by social care services and constructively included in the interest of the patient. In family care, psychosocial problems are increasingly in the foreground in addition to nursing difficulties. In couple care, maintaining the couple’s routine is important for coping, as is the negotiation of new roles within the family. For sustainable support arrangements, therefore, non-medical concepts are increasingly in demand, in which families receive psychosocial support in the new dynamics.
Teachers are Doing Family in Primary Schools – Gigerl, Monika / Breser, Britta (Graz/AUT)
The teachers approach to the topic family is crucial, because in primary schools they are the main actors of doing and making family. Primary school education focusses on competent interaction with different communities and the society, starting at school entering. Being part of (and taking part in) a heterogenous society takes gradual work, which necessitates facing the challenge of addressing controversial teaching content. Due to demographic developments, as well as media driven sociopolitical debates, the topic family is both significant for social learning and a sensible topic for teachers (Geisen, Studer & Yıldız, 2014). In primary schools, different family structures and forms, as well as public discourses about these, become often apparent through disagreements and controversial perceptions within classrooms. The topic family is a central primary school curriculum area and usually takes a broad, pluralistic perspective that includes single parent, blended and LGBTIQ+ families (Baar, 2019). The research project “Family in General Studies and Teacher Training” explores teachers approach to the topic family and tackles the question whether this topic is perceived as controversial in the context of societal change.
When entering school, pupils who already have a wide knowledge of their environment and lifeworld, are put together into a class. Societal learning is orientated around knowledge, methods and competencies of Social Sciences which explain social coexistence of people in communities (Pech, 2006). The goals of General Studies in primary education are to responsibly orientate pupils in their own lifeworld, teaching controversial topics is essential, as these themes are directly relevant for pupils and in order to counter potentially unilateral or partial media depictions.
Therefore, this presentation examines the topic family from a social science perspective, and specifically tackles the question “In which societal contexts the topic family is perceived as challenging by teachers, and how are these perceptions dealt with in class?”. To answer this question, the first step is the analysis of empirical survey data in quantitative form (n = 905). The sample consists of teachers of primary schools in Austria as well as students and lecturers of Teacher Training Programs for Primary Schools, who were asked about their attitudes towards the topic family and how they assess the relevance of potentially challenging aspects of the topic (such as heterogeneity, religion, discrimination, attitudes of parents/caregivers, etc.) for class.
In a second step, the content of 20 rule-guided interviews about teaching controversial topics and challenges in the context of the topic family in primary schools are analyzed, following Mayrings deductive-inductive approach to qualitative data (Mayring, 2015). This data concerns aspects of teaching style, the classroom atmosphere or dealing with spontaneous questions or comments (Hess, 2009).
In summary, this presentation will provide comprehensive answers about contexts in which the topic family is perceived as controversial in primary schools and how teachers respond to those perceptions through their teaching style and methods. Moreover, the findings will show how teachers are doing family, in order to prepare pupils for participating in heterogenous communities.
Baar, R. (2019). „Aber, dann hätten sie dich nicht gekriegt!“ Gruppengespräche über ‚Familie‘ im inklusiven Sachunterricht. In D. Pech, C. Schomaker & T. Simon (Hrsg.), Inklusion im Sachunterricht: Perspektiven der Forschung,p. 51-62.
Geisen, T., Studer, T. & Yıldız, E. (2014). Migration, Familie und Gesellschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
Hess, D. E. (2009). Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion.London: Routledge.
Pech, D., & Rauterberg, M. (2007). Sollen wird Können (oder soll Können werden)-Sachunterrichtliche Kompetenzen und ihre gesellschaftliche Bedeutung. Kompetenzerwerb im Sachunterricht fördern und erfassen (= Probleme und Perspektiven des Sachunterrichts, Band 17). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt 2007a, p. 47-58.
Mayring, P. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlage und Techniken (12., überarbeitete Auflage). Weinheim & Basel: Beltz Verlag.