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The Child Indicators movement: past, present and future Asher Ben-Arieh (Ph. D. ) Co-Chair, The Child Indicators movement: past, present and future Asher Ben-Arieh (Ph. D. ) Co-Chair, International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI) Editor in Chief, Child Indicators Research Head, Joseph J. Schwartz M. A. Program Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare The Hebrew University of Jerusalem E-mail: [email protected] huji. ac. il

The presentation framework l l l l l When did it all start – The presentation framework l l l l l When did it all start – the historical origin The pioneering efforts The social indicators phenomena Child social indicators The rapid development era (1980 – 2005) The shifts The present The future The policy impact A few words about ISCI

When did it all start – the historical origin l l As early as When did it all start – the historical origin l l As early as the late 40 th… Sporadic efforts to publish “state of the child reports”. A few examples. . What were they about and why were they published?

The pioneering efforts l l l Most of them were a one time episode The pioneering efforts l l l Most of them were a one time episode They focused on the existence of risk factors in children life Most were published by governmental agencies and a few by NGO’s They were heavily profession focused Most were non-academic publications

The social indicators phenomena l l l One of the first times the term The social indicators phenomena l l l One of the first times the term was used was in Bauer's influential book, that made the concept scientifically and politically relevant. Bauer defined “Social Indicators”: “… social indicators – statistics, statistical series, and all other forms of evidence – that enable us to assess where we stand are going with respect to our values and goals…”. As of the 1960 s, researchers argue that wellmeasured and consistently collected social indicators can provide a way to monitor the condition of groups in society, including children and families, today and over time.

The social indicators phenomena l l Social indicators are used by policy makers to The social indicators phenomena l l Social indicators are used by policy makers to contribute to the improvement of the well being of the people they serve. Social indicators measure changes and trends over time. The overall direction of change can point out what decisions need to be taken, as a policy process. Social indicators give policy makers a better understanding of the conditions and the state of the people. Social indicators can direct and emphasize where exactly steps should be taken?

Child social indicators l l l Recent years have brought new and growing attention Child social indicators l l l Recent years have brought new and growing attention to social indicators of children’s well being. This growing interest has been partly due to a movement toward accountability-based public policy and the need for more accurate measures of the conditions children face and the outcomes various programs achieve. The rapid changes in family life have also prompted an increased demand for a better picture of children's well being

Child social indicators l Indicators of children’s well-being, in particular, are used by child Child social indicators l Indicators of children’s well-being, in particular, are used by child advocacy groups, policy makers, researchers, the media, and service providers to serve a number of purposes: • • • l to describe the condition of children; to monitor or track child outcomes; to set goals. And while there are notable gaps and inadequacies in existing child and family wellbeing indicators, there also literally are dozens of data series and indicators from which to form opinions and draw conclusions.

The rapid development era (1980 – 2009) l Efforts to measure and monitor children’s The rapid development era (1980 – 2009) l Efforts to measure and monitor children’s well-being have dramatically grown in the last 30 years and is evident, in joint projects by government, nongovernment, and academic institutes and especially in the production of numerous “State of the Child” reports.

The rapid development era (1980 – 2009) l Much of this “new” and enhanced The rapid development era (1980 – 2009) l Much of this “new” and enhanced activity can be accounted for by: • • • UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children” annual report published since 1979. The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, through its global ratification and especially through its reporting and monitoring mechanism. A number of national and multi-national projects and studies such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count initiative in the United States (early 90’s). The multinational project on measuring and monitoring children well being (1996). The European center childhood project and more.

The shifts l In a number of studies and papers I have argued (as The shifts l In a number of studies and papers I have argued (as did others) that the field of children’s social indicators has been evolving and going through four major shifts in the last 25 years. • From survival to beyond • From negative to positive • From well becoming to well-being, and consequently • From traditional to “new” domains. l Today it seems a consensus was reached that indeed the field is changing in these directions.

The present l l l The field of child social indicators is constantly changing! The present l l l The field of child social indicators is constantly changing! Research support earlier studies that argued that the field is going through the 4 major shifts mentioned above. These shifts are occurring everywhere, though at different paces in different places. Further, I would argue that these shifts are correlated with changes in the “philosophy” or approach to child social indicators: • the incorporation of subjective perception as well as the child perspective; and • the usage of the child as the unit of observation.

The future l l I would predict that the field will continue to move The future l l I would predict that the field will continue to move in the previously mentioned directions and will most likely do so at a considerably faster pace. I further anticipate that the continuation of the current trends will eventually lead to the creation of a “new” role for children in the effort to measure and monitor their own well being – a role of active participants rather then of subjects for research. I would also argue that we are in a midst of a shift toward a more closely policy oriented indicators From now on I would like to concentrate on the policy shift.

Policy related indicators? l l It is clear that while some indicators have led Policy related indicators? l l It is clear that while some indicators have led to new policies and programs for children, others have not. It is also evident that the same indicator when used in some countries and instances has led to desired outcomes, while in others it did not.

The questions l l l Which are the most influential (policy wise) indicators of The questions l l l Which are the most influential (policy wise) indicators of children’s well-being? Are there any rules or guidelines for how an indicator should and could be constructed? How can the knowledge gained from using the indicator be brought into policymaking decisions?

The answers l l l l Our knowledge is limited. The only methodology we The answers l l l l Our knowledge is limited. The only methodology we are using so far is casestudies. But they are hard to generalize. Our project went as far as integrating 5 case studies. Additional methods are sought – the NYC seminar. There are several attempts to develop guidelines Most of them are based on personal experience and intuition. The issue of knowledge diffusion and delivery of findings to the policy makers is still awaiting a through examination

Conclusion l l l We started our journey with the sound analysis that the Conclusion l l l We started our journey with the sound analysis that the field of measuring and monitoring children well being is changing. Not only that it is changing but we have built on the direction it is heading to make a case for a more active role of children in the study of their well being. We also made clear that there is a need to thoroughly study the policies consequences.

Conclusion l l We need to develop “new” research methodologies on the basis of Conclusion l l We need to develop “new” research methodologies on the basis of partnership with children and policy makers. Methods which in turn involves a new role in the power structure for the researcher. A move from the plunderer of information to facilitator which enables the child to be an active part of voicing their concerns As well as a move from isolated studies to studies which are embedded within the policy arena & context.

And a few words on ISCI l l Researchers, data users, child advocates, and And a few words on ISCI l l Researchers, data users, child advocates, and policymakers have made considerable advances in developing and using indicators and measuring the status of child and adolescent wellbeing. These advances have been made possible by improvements in data collection and use, and collaborative efforts at the local, national, regional, and international levels. These important efforts, however, have been undertaken without the benefit of an organizing structure to support and foster collaboration, integrate findings, and coordinate and disseminate research. In short, the field is reaching critical mass without an organized professional home. The International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI) offers that home.

ISCI’s Goals l ISCI brings together experts in the field worldwide to: • Contribute ISCI’s Goals l ISCI brings together experts in the field worldwide to: • Contribute to the well-being of all children. • Share knowledge and experience. • Develop standards. • Improve data resources. • Foster collaborative research and projects. • Foster diversity in methodological approaches. • Enhance dissemination of information on children’s status. • Help organizations apply the findings to policy and practice. • Enhance the capacity of the field in countries that are in the initial stages of producing child well-being indicators.

ISCI’s Projects l l l Child Indicators Research (CIR) a Springer journal www. springer. ISCI’s Projects l l l Child Indicators Research (CIR) a Springer journal www. springer. com/12187 Children’s Well being: Research and Indicators a Springer book series Newsletter sent by e-mail to almost 1, 000 experts in the field. Active Web-site www. childindicators. org International conferences

ISCI’s 2 nd international conference l l l Planning is well underway for the ISCI’s 2 nd international conference l l l Planning is well underway for the second ISCI conference at the Parramatta campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS), on the topic of child social indicators and child well-being - 4 th and 5 th November 2009. The ISCI conference will be preceded by a one-day (3 rd Nov) Symposium of the Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre (UWS), on “Children as experts in their own lives: Child Inclusive Research’. For more info: [email protected] edu. au

Thank you! Thank you!