Three conversation practices illuminating how children’s views and wishes are explored in care proceedings: An analysis of 22 children’s spokespersons’ accounts

MarieHatlelid Føleide - Children and Youth Services Review


There is a growing literature on how children are heard in the field of child welfare, often with indications of how difficult it may be to fulfil their right to be heard. This article examines children’s spokespersons’ accounts of speaking with children in care proceedings about their views and wishes. The study consists of interviews with 22 children’s spokespersons in Norway. Study findings question whether children in care proceedings understand the invitation to voice their wishes as confined to matters relating to the proceedings. Based on their accounts of their practices, spokespersons tend to respond to children’s wishes with efforts to orientating them to their current situation and a negotiation that will make the wishes more feasible in the eyes of the representative. The spokespersons’ accounts of the conversations display conversational dynamics in which children’s views and wishes are explored, through types of practices identified as practices of fidelity, of structuration and of argumentation. The understanding of conversation dynamics that these findings provide may further meaningful engagement and enable a more attentive exploration of children’s views and wishes. The analysis presented here provides important insights for professions that bear the task of enabling children’s participation.