Changes in Support for Children and Families in Iceland: Social capitals, challenges and opportunities - Dóra Bjarnason
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Changes in Support for Children and Families in Iceland: Social capitals, challenges and opportunities - Dóra Bjarnason



Professor Dóra Bjarnason. University of Iceland. ...

Professor Dóra Bjarnason. University of Iceland.

Session 4 - Changing Children's Services. Chair Martha Holden, Project Director, University of Cornell.

Getting It Right for Every Child: Childhood, Citizenship and Children's Services, Glasgow, 24-26 September 2008.



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Changes in Support for Children and Families in Iceland: Social capitals, challenges and opportunities - Dóra Bjarnason Changes in Support for Children and Families in Iceland: Social capitals, challenges and opportunities - Dóra Bjarnason Presentation Transcript

  • Breaking the barriers: Changes in support for children and families in Iceland Changing children’s services: challenges for education, social work and health care professionals. Getting it right for every child: Childhood, Citizenship and Children’s Services
    • Introducion
    • Background. The Icelandic Society and
    • indicators on children’s well-being.
    • New laws and services.
    • My research: Parents perspectives
    • on support due to disability in the family.
    • Who is the good professional
    • Reflections and lessons learnt.
    • Questions for this paper:
    • What are the lessons learnt from my study on parents experiences
    • of formal and informal support provided because of disability
    • in their families that might speak to a broader international audience?
    • What kind of service system (s) appear most effective in the eyes
    • of parents and why?
    • What is a good professional from the parents perspective – and has
    • that changed over time?
    • Implications for changing children’s services?
  • Population 317.376 people. Nordic type welfare state. High living standard. Economic vulnerability. Iceland is generally considered a relatively peaceful environment
    • A few facts about Icelandic children
    • (Ref. OECD –Innocenti Card 7)
    • Material well-being
    • Health and safety
    • Educational well-being
    • Family and peer relationships
    • Behaviour and risks
    • Subjective well being
    • On all these dimensions Iceland ranks similarly to other Nordic
    • nations. But we rank average or just below average in the PISA evaluation
  • Milestones: Law and services UN convention on the rights of the Child from 1989 signed by Iceland 1990 This resulted in review of various laws and regulations, and institutions related to the rights, protection and the well being of children. Ombudsman of children established by law 1995
    • 1992 Law on the division of tasks between the state
    • and municipal authorities. 1997 experimental
    • municipalities.
    • 1995 Government Agency for Child Protection
    • 1998 The Children’s House
    • 2000 Act on Paternity and Maternity Leave.
    • 2002 A new Child protection Act
    • 2003 Act in respect of Children
    • Post 2000 new acts on education from preschools
    • to universities.
    • 2007 A statutory plan on the affairs of children and youth
  • My study: The study 2005/2006-2008 The focus is on parents’ perspectives of informal and formal support due to a child’s disability – over time. Their children labelled with disabilities are born between 1974 -2007. This is a time of great changes both in the Icelandic society and in it’s welfare policy.
    • Theoretical frame and perspectives
    • The main theoretical frame is Social Constructionism
    • poststructuralism and social capital theories are also applied.
    Concepts: Formal and informal support, social capital: bonding, bridging and linking Method: The study is qualitative. The research focuses on parents of children labelled significantly disabled. Data : Semi-structured interviews with one or both parents of 65 families with disabled children and youth borne 1974 to 2007. Total 96 interviews and interviews with 15 professionals (doctors and health workers, social workers, teachers and bureaucrats), three focal group interviews with bureaucrats and local administrators, and document analysis.
  • What is a family? Family is a process of interactions and activities between persons who consider themselves as belonging to a family
    • Some findings:
    • Fathers have much less access to bonding capital than mothers,
    • but more access to bridging and linking capital.
    • How parents work through difficulties is related to:
      • If the child is expected to live or die
      • Access to social capital especially bonding capital
      • Whether or not they have previous knowledge of disability –
      • or access such knowledge from other families.
      • Parents education and personal resources
      • Flow of information and short waiting lists / time
      • Access to necessary, sufficient and flexible services as time goes
      • by and the child’s and the family’s needs change.
      • Support from a stable professional who has access to all relevant
      • service system, asks parents for their needs and offers support in equal
      • partnership.
      • Empowering engagement with social capitals, especially with
      • bonding capital reduces the parents periods of stress and sorrow.
      • Access to bridging and linking capitals opens and maintains
      • access to appropriate services.
    • Lessons
    • Professionals should help families repair, strengthen and build
    • social capitals.
    • Professionals should guide parents through the service
    • maize - but in a collaborative way (try and disrobe their
    • professional power).
    • Support should be aimed at the whole family rather just
    • individual children in need.
    • Support needs to be flexible.
    • The same support person with a human face, with
    • access to different systems.
  • What is a good professional from the parents perspective – and has that changed over time?
  • Parents and professionals Unequal power relationships? Parents: Professionals: as clients as experts as paraprofessionals as transplanters as consumers as service providers as disepowered as empowering as negotiators as negotiators
  • Breaking barriers: Challenges and Empowerment It is not just individual challenge a family challenge a professional’s challenge
    • Working for Change
    • individual and his or her families
    • schools
    • systems
    • communities
    • society