Approaching Capabilities with Children in Care

Bernhard, Babic, Oscar Germes Castro, and Gunter Graf (2009). "Approaching Capabilities with Children in Care" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

With their programmes and services organisations like SOS-Kinderdorf International (SOS-KDI) are working to enable people to live a life they have reason to choose and value. That is why these organisations have to know which capabilities are valued by the children, youths and families they care for, especially if they agree that (not only) in developing countries the assessment of their policies, programmes and services should not only take place “on the basis of their impact on incomes, but whether or not they expand the real freedoms that people value” (UNESCO 2003, p. 33). But generally the question how to select relevant capabilities is not clearly answered yet (see Schokkaert 2008, p. 16f) although there are already promising approaches to identify capabilities for children well-being (see Biggeri 2004; Biggeri et al. 2006). Therefore, SOS-KDI and the International Research Center Salzburg (Austria) started a research project in March 2009 that aims at analysing to which extent the capability approach could serve as a framework for assessing and optimising youth and family related services (e.g. family strengthening programmes) in different cultures. After reflecting theoretically about the meaning of the capability approach for child and youth development, especially in developing countries, two field studies will be conducted in cooperation with the national associations of SOS-Kinderdorf in Nicaragua and Namibia. As a part of the mainly qualitative, quasi-experimental investigations, young people living inside and outside facilities run by SOS-Kinderdorf will be asked for their values, the life they would like to lead, how they assess their chances to realize their plans, what kind of support they already get and what kind of support they need (additionally) to achieve their goals. Further more their families of origin, co-workers of SOS-Kinderdorf and partner organisations as well as others shall also be involved to realise a multiple-perspective approach. The goal of the project is to learn which capabilities are valuable for the respondents from two different cultures and how well the support they receive by SOS-Kinderdorf and others meets their needs in this context. This Knowledge shall also enable the organisation to create processes and tools to assess its work and optimise its programme development.
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