The challenge of involving children as participants in the research process. Participatory action research in researching children's participation in child care
Fauclty of Social Sciences, Social Welfare research Centre Oslo University College Oslo, Norway
In studying the participation of children in child welfare we have applied participatory action research (PAR) as a methodological approach to study possibilities for developing new or alternative actions or practice forms based on children's participation. The overarching question in the project is: How can the professional practice with children be structured and shaped to strengthen the opportunities of the child to be an active social participant in his/her everyday life? One of the research questions is in focus in this paper: How can a professional practitioner cooperate with a child in ways that will help that child to actively participate in professional processes and endeavours?
The paper will address a central question related to the participatory dimension of the project: How can children and parents be involved as co-researchers in studying participation? By choosing PAR the participants, both the child welfare workers, but also the children and their parents should take part in developing new practice forms, and take part in the research process: to develop research questions, in analysis and in dissemination of results. The empirical basis for the discussion is the research activities in the project Professional Practice and the Participation of Children, conducted at Oslo University College, in cooperation with two child welfare centres in Oslo.