Participation in child protection. Essential for helpful care for children and families with disabilities. From theory to daily practice

Veronica Smits, Maartje Snelders

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperOther research output


The William Schrikker Group is a national organization for child protection, youth probation and foster care in The Netherlands. With over 550 family supervisors we provide support to children with disabilities and to children of parents with disabilities. Almost 10.000 children are our clients. In the workshop we will focus on these special needs children and their families. They are living with their parent(s), within a fosterfamily or in an institution.
In recent years, in The Netherlands there is more and more attention to the target group children and parents with disabilities within the group of children with a protection order.
Research shows that a disability has implications in many areas of life. Besides serious parenting and developmental problems often additional longlasting psychological, social and financial problems are involved to complicate things further. The families that we focus on are often characterized by poverty, debts, addiction, crime and disorder.
In the workshop we would like to present our vision ‘Er zijn als het moet’ (Being there when necessary), which we are implementing in working with families and in parallel throughout the organisation. The core of this vision helps us to change our attitude in working together with children and parents with disabilities and complex problems. We use methods like Signs of Safety to strenghten and deepen the work we have to do, to create lasting safety for the child together with the family. We can say we are on a journey with both the child, his or her family system and the network around them in creating safety for the child, in which participation is a most important and proven positive tool. And continuing to get better in what we do. This point of view lead to another way of thinking about the case plan we have to make for the court. Our reports for the court used to be just our point of view and was mainly very long with a lot of difficult words. We wanted a different approach: it should be their case plan, with questions and words they understand, while focussing on the main goal: safety for the child.
First we will look at the legal frame of the child protection in the Netherlands with a focus on the influence and the possibility to put the fundamental right of participation into practice. Hereby the international legal framework is leading.
Second we will give a look at our method; we will tell about how the principles, disciplines and tools, help and surprise us in working with children and parents with disabilities to change the attitude, deepen our practice and realize better outcomes for children and parents. We will illustrate this with video fragments.
Third we will focus on the implementation of this method in the legal frame of procedures. Hereby is the multidisciplinary approach leading: the psychologist, the practitioners and the lawyers should work together with a view to the best interest of the child and the well being of the system. Also the judge should from our point of view decide in cooperation with a psychologist in a new form of multidisciplinary jurisdiction.
After the theoretical part we will go into discussion with the participants on the basis of a case to explain and practice the way of working using our case plan for youth protection.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
EventEurochild : Childfren´s rights matter - Brussel, Belgium
Duration: 5 Jul 20167 Jul 2016
Conference number: Eurochild


Abbreviated titlewhy Europe needs to invest in children


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