HUMAN SERVICE EXECUTIVES’ INSIGHTS ON THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
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Popular use of the phrase best interests of the child has led many to believe that the meaning and definition of best interests has been thoroughly investigated in the respective sectors working with children. However, research in this area tends to be superficial and generalized and the concept remains inconsistently defined. Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states the best interests of the child is to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children. There is no straightforward way for the best interests of the child to be systematically studied, understood, or applied if there is not a commonly held or accepted conception of what is in the child’s best interests or measurable standards for those human service executives working with children. The purpose of the study was to identify Saskatchewan human service executives’ insights with respect to the best interests of the child principle as these inform practice, policy, and research in human services and, secondly, to examine their perceptions of moral purpose, agency, and efficacy in the application of the BIC principle, as delineated by the UN Committee in the Concluding Observations on the Combined Third and Fourth Periodic Report of Canada, (United Nations, 2012). A qualitative approach, comprised of general interviews with 11 Saskatchewan human service executives, was used to collect data for this study. Using Hood (2007) and Thomas’ (2006) Generic Inductive Qualitative Method (GIQM) approach for coding, data were categorized from interviews using an inductive approach to developing categories and sub-categories to answer the research questions. Reduced data were interpreted and synthesized by the researcher using extant public documents and literature to triangulate results. Exploration of human service executives’ perceptions in this study revealed a number of insights. Human service executives’ conceptions of the best interests of the child were described in detail and a description of the contemporary Childscape of Saskatchewan emerged. The data revealed that many conceptions of the BIC principle existed and although similarities appeared within sectors, the similarities were mainly due to the sector-specific policies and legislation informing human service. Furthermore, human service executives provided descriptions that add to existing theory about decision making on behalf of the BIC and moral purpose, moral agency, and moral efficacy. Implications for future research entail the adoption of intentional planning, collaboration, and incorporating children’s voice into the processes surrounding the BIC in Saskatchewan in an effort to ensure the future Childscape of Saskatchewan is better than the realities described at the time of this study.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorWalker, Keith D.
CommitteePrytula, Michelle; Heavin, Heather; Clarke, Paul; Frick, William
Copyright DateDecember 2015
Best Interests of the Child
Human Service Executivies