Child and Youth Care Services Around the World

From 7 to 9 October 2020, the Institute of Childhood, Youth and Family at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences held the fifth international bachelor seminar «Child and Youth Care Services Around the World» in collaboration with FICE Switzerland.

Six committed students attended this international seminar in English. This year’s focus topic was – following the topic of the EUSARF-conference to be held 2021 at ZHAW – «The child’s perspective and its significance for child and youth services in international comparison».

Students and Lecturers could come together at Toni with masks, but the guest (Roger Winandy, FICE Austria) unfortunately could only attend virtually. As there were zoom-interviews with child-care-workers and -researchers around the world anyway, we were well prepared to deal in a hybrid way.

After an introduction by Samuel Keller and a discussion with the students, Anna Schmid (FICE Switzerland) presented the project «Creating Futures». In this project, young people aged 14-24 from five youth homes in Switzerland and Hungary develop innovations together with staff and leaders to promote the empowerment of young people.

Afterwards Roger Winandy (FICE Austria) reported on the project «Leaving Care», which FICE Austria implemented together with SOS Children’s Villages organisations in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Romania. Among other things, training modules for socio-educational professionals were co-developed and taught by young people.

On the second day, students further deepened their engaging discussions through online interviews with experts around the world: Merle Allsopp (FICE South Africa), Martha J. Holden (Cornell University New York; FICE USA), Dr Rawan Ibrahim (German Jordanian University, Amman), Fabienne Lander (Care Leaver, expert/trainer in FICE Austria’s Leaving Care project) and Martine Tobé (Kinderperspectief; FICE Netherlands). We got to know different international contexts and concrete projects that focus on the child’s perspective in childcare. A central interest was the question of what we can learn from this as a profession and concretely as social workers in Swiss child and youth care as well as in international and comparative childcare.

On the last day of the seminar, the students organised and managed an exchange with two researchers from the Institute for Childhood, Youth and Family, Dr Tim Tausendfreund and Julia Rohrbach. To have a safe exchange without masks (and because it was a perfect warm day in autumn), we met on the rooftop by respecting social distancing and all other Covid-19-rules.

As the Institute is organising the 16th Congress of the European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) in 2021 on the topic of «The Perspective of the Child», the students also developed ideas for activities that could be used to encourage or even provoke the congress participants to look at the topic with a new or fresh perspective. Following creative ideas (here only named by the titles) were presented:
– «more heart, less power/less writing/less profession»
– «professionalize social work around the world: calling on the UN to act»
– «growing fields of bear traps» – be aware of how you talk, act and decide
– «taking over the space» – children adopt conference rooms and spaces
– «competences of my ideal social worker…»

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