The Legal Right to Participate: Evaluation of the Potential for Digital Tools to Empower Children in Social Services
- Contact person:
- Nancy Russo
- Swedish Research Council for Health Working life and Welfare
- Responsible at Malmö University:
- Nancy Russo
- Project members:
- Karin Tillberg Mattsson (Region Gävleborg)
- Björn Hofvander (Lund University)
- Time frame:
- 01 July 2020 - 30 June 2021
- Research environment :
- Research subject:
The UN Convention on Rights of the Child became law in January 2020, requiring all public services in Sweden to enact its provisions, including Article 12 which states that children have the right to participate in decisions about their lives. In order to carry out good child impact assessments in the area of social care, it is crucial to safeguard children's right to be heard in cases and decisions concerning them, and this should be done in a manner that is age-appropriate and engaging.
A recently developed digital tool, OmMej, provides a means for children to both provide information about their situation and to get information related to their own concerns. Social care professionals involved in children’s care can receive information from OmMej regarding the child’s self-expressed needs and can then discuss these with the child to establish a plan of care. A number of municipalities in Sweden have adopted this tool, and others are in the process of considering it.
An interdisciplinary team of researchers (law, psychology, and technology, and social work) will conduct a pilot study to examine the inception of this process with the goal of understanding how such a tool can provide support for children’s participation rights and how it can be successfully integrated into practice. Social care workers who begin using the tool can help assess its ability to provide earlier interventions and to enable preventative measures based on the children’s information provided via OmMej. Capturing the experiences of these early adopters will provide the foundation for a larger study that will be broader in scope and deeper in impact assessment, including an examination of the children’s experience in using the digital tool and their perception of its impact on the care they receive. Knowledge from both studies will support other municipalities in their adoption of digital tools and contribute to better outcomes for vulnerable children.