Karel Řezáč (University of West Bohemia, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts (Department of Sociology)

(Czech Republic)
Topic: Foster care children’s expectations from social workers in the context of the capability approach
Language: English 


Background: The role of child protection social workers represents one of the most complex and challenging part of social work practice. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on various basis, and the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration anytime. However, the question remains to what extent the role and activities of social workers correspond to child’s real interest. The protection of the rights of children in foster care, who are among the most vulnerable children, is particularly essential issue.

Methods: The paper summarizes the main results of research carried out in two phase mixed strategy on foster care social work practice in Czechia. The study was led by the following research question: What are expectations of children in foster care regarding social workers in the context of their capabilities? The research was conducted with a questionnaire survey on children in foster care (N=89) and semi-structured interviews with foster care children, social workers and foster parents (N=18), in conjunction with a deductive qualitative analysis and capability approach framework.

Findings and conclusions: The findings show the list of foster care children’s central capabilities from their own point of view. Furthermore, data suggest a relation between the range of decision-making opportunities and the motivation to make their own decisions, including expressing opinion. The results also show what the children, according to their own words, expect from their social workers, what kind of roles they assign to them and what emotions these roles arouse in them. The conclusion draw attention to importance of creating the necessary conditions for supporting foster care children’s autonomy during the cooperation with social worker, as well as in a general.