Talking About Family with Children in Care Proceedings: Constructions of “Family” in an Analysis of Spokespersons’ Accounts

Marie Hatlelid Føleide

In arrangements for children’s participation in child welfare systems, professionals’ interpretations of children’s views on family and their own constructions of family will impact children’s conditions for expressing feelings and moral agency. This article analyses the accounts of children’s spokespersons in Norway, whose mandate is to speak with and forward children’s views in care proceedings.

The analyses show how constructions of loyalty, family interdependence, and individualism may inform spokespersons’ interpretations of children’s views, and thereby their exploratory practices in their conversations with the children.

Children’s representatives need to be reflexive toward their own understanding(s) of family and family interdependence in order to discover the complex web of experiences, ambiguity, feelings, and expectations children have around family and familial relations in their lives. The findings point to the importance of reflexive exercises toward constructions of children and family in the field of social work.