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Listening to children: gaining a perspective of the experiences of poverty and social exclusion from children and young people of single-parent families

By Karin Crawford, Janet Walker and Frances Taylor

Abstract

This paper reports on the experiences and views of children and young\ud people of single-parent families, as findings from a European Union-funded\ud research project undertaken in England, Greece and Cyprus. The objectives\ud of the research project were to investigate how children and young people\ud of single-parent families understand and experience their worlds as\ud members of these families: whether and to what extent they experience\ud poverty and social exclusion and how they cope with the challenges that this\ud confronts them with. Methodology was replicated in each of the countries;\ud however, this paper draws on the English experiences.\ud Semistructured interviews (40) and focus groups (four) were undertaken\ud with children of single parents. In addition, focus groups were undertaken\ud with children of two-parent families (four), focus groups with single parents,\ud focus groups with two-parent families (four) and individual interviews with\ud key professionals. Detailed discussion guides were followed, with\ud open-ended questions to allow participants to express their feelings and\ud ideas in their own words. The research sample included children from\ud single-parent and two-parent families, aged 6 years to 16 years, balanced in\ud terms of age, gender and geographical location.\ud Findings demonstrate the children’s and young people’s understanding\ud of the impact of poverty and social exclusion on their family life and their\ud everyday experiences. The positive benefits of being in a single-parent\ud family are highlighted, with ‘time poverty’ raised as a significant issue.\ud Children and young people are aware of their poverty and how it influences\ud exclusion from friendships, play, leisure and community activities. Policy\ud needs to take account of the systematic reality of children’s experiences;\ud alliances with adults that support meaningful involvement and\ud participation by children and young people will make a significant\ud contribution to this

Topics: L410 UK Social Policy, L510 Health & Welfare, L520 Child Care, L400 Social Policy
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2008.00781.x
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:3126
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