Families, Relationships and Societies
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Family relatedness: a challenge for making decisions in child welfare

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  • 1 Tampere University, , Finland
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This article examines children’s and parents’ positions as rights holders and family members in child welfare decision making as seen by social workers who prepare child removal decisions. The study is based on qualitative interviews with social workers, each of which includes the story of one child’s case. The interviews were conducted in Finland, where the consent or objection expressed by parents and children of a certain age determine the decision-making process, as each of them can independently express a view about the removal proposal. The study highlights how family relatedness shapes the parties’ autonomy and self-determination through intergenerational, interparental and other dynamics of emotional and power relations. Relational autonomy is emphasised more than individual autonomy in the social workers’ descriptions. It is suggested that self-determination needs to be refined so that it acknowledges family relatedness as well as individuals as rights holders.

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