Understanding Childhood- Everyday Life and Welfare System, from the point of view of Childcare Workers in Finland.
This study carried out in one children’s home in Finland. This study aims to understand how the caregivers collectively perceive their work to secure and construct the childhood of the children living in the children’s home. Furthermore, the study mainly includes caregiver’s perceptions and practices of upbringing of children in the children’s home, which have been thoroughly analysed in the study. The study follows carefully designed two qualitative research methods: focus group interview and text for data collection. The data comprise one focus group interview of seven child care workers that includes five discussion questions about children’s home, listening to the children, importance of rules, regulations and daily routines, children’s future and difficulties in the work. References have been given to the ‘text’, i.e. institution’s policy documents- rules and regulations and the Finnish Child Welfare Act for the analysis of the data. However, the study does not include the analysis of the ‘text’ itself. Moreover, thematic analysis is used for data analysis.
The study highlights that understanding childhood comprise the process of trust building between children and care workers- allowing children’s voice, agency, independence and protection respecting the child rights, personal integrity with the provision of safe home, trustable adults and permanent routines and individual child care plan. In addition, the same body ‘caregiver’ who, at the same time, allows child autonomy, agency and independence, also regulates the children’s everyday life, controls children and creates limitation, bridge trust and protect them from developing deviancy and asocial behaviours. Such process gives special consideration to the children’s psychological as well as physical incompetency such as age, immaturity and the vulnerable past in the children’s home that partly creates dilemmas/conflicts in delivering full agency to the children as mentioned in the legal frame work. The study reveals that building trust takes place through interaction between children and care workers and is a long-term process that backs up bringing corrective experiences in children. Listening to the children means helping and teaching them to recognise own feelings, emotions and stand independent and strong for oneself in the future. Likewise, respect to the child rights and organising everyday life delivers protection and safety net to the children. The study reveals, despites various difficulties at work, such as changing welfare act, complicated bureaucracy, unlimited parental rights and surprising legal interference, the child workers have the professional as well as moral obligations to protect children and provide them a safe and intact growing environment. Finally, the study reveals that future of the children is based on the personal choices they make in future and only a few of them will have relatively better life than others. However, all of the children are always under potential risk of post-traumatic collapses.
Keywords: childhood, child perspective, agency, children’s voice, building trust.
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