"Children’s participation in child welfare decision making: Recognising dichotomies, conceptualising critically informed solutions."

Paul McCafferty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


This article suggests that there exists a dichotomy within social work related to listening to the voice of the child, contributing to a diminution of social works practical, ethical and legal obligation to enact Article12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The article gives an in-depth exploration of this phenomenon and offers insights as to why this dichotomy exists, arguing that if social work is to realise its obligation to listen to the voice of the child, it must find solutions that accommodate the professions responsibilities to listen to children. One such solution is offered within the paper that may assist social work resolve its problematic relationship with Article 12. An adapted model of Honneth’s recognition theory is offered as a unique theoretical and practical method to help social work accommodate its duty to safeguard children whilst simultaneously listening to their wishes and feelings at individual, State and societal level. The theory can be used to critique current practice, offering social workers a template to build participatory practices, based on the equal recognition of children’s citizenship and agency. Honneth’s theory can be used to evaluate how well new participatory practices satisfy the criteria of love, rights and solidarity. By accepting Honneth’s theory of recognition, social work can begin to make progress addressing the practice dichotomy concerning participation aspiration and reality. The article offers an innovative and unique contribution to the literature on children’s participation by adapting Honneth’s recognition theory and applying it exclusively to the participation rights of children known to social services, offering novel ways social workers can enable this group of children to lay claim to their right to participate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalChild Care in Practice
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 30 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Child Care in Practice Group.


  • Social work;Child welfare; Children’s rights; Children’s participation; Social theory; Honneth; Article 12; United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • Pediatrics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education
  • Community and Home Care
  • Health(social science)
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • United Nations Convention on the rights of the child
  • child welfare
  • children’s rights
  • children’s participation
  • Social work
  • social theory
  • Honneth
  • article 12


Dive into the research topics of '"Children’s participation in child welfare decision making: Recognising dichotomies, conceptualising critically informed solutions."'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this