JOURNAL ISSUE 17.3

Fall 2008

 

 

MATCHING INTERVENTIONS TO THE NEEDS OF

CHILDREN AND YOUTHS AT RISK

 

Gabrijela Ratkajec

Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences

Department of Behaviour Disorders

Borongajska bb

Zagreb

 

 

 

Abstract

The changes which occur within society, globally as well as those relating to specifically to Croatia, influence both the phenomenon of behavioural disorders and also the intervention systems designed to address such disorders. As a result of these changes, the situation in Croatia may require a more actuarial approach to the risk and needs assessment of children and youths with behavioural disorders. This paper, specifically elaborates on the problem of matching interventions to the needs of children and youths at risk with the instruments of assessment. The paper includes a description of the project Matching interventions with the needs of children and youth at risk – creating a model’. The rationale behind the project is to promote efficient intervention, based on the rights and needs of children and youths at risk. The focus is mainly on the instruments used for assessing the needs of children and youths at risk. These instruments could enrich Croatian practice if there was adequate intervention, standardization of the criteria used in assessments, and connection between the institutions which deal with children and youths at risk. It is not recommended that the use of assessment instruments should be the only criterion, but rather they should be one of the elements within the creation of the system. This paper presents the contribution of these instruments and their possibilities in practice, as presented to the symposium Social Work with Juvenile Offenders. The symposium started a discussion of possibilities, advantages and drawbacks of the assessment instruments. However, no matter which type of assessment is chosen, our primary goal is to identify children at risk or who have behavioural disorders, and then to include timely and appropriate intervention. 

 

 

Introduction

Official statistics, everyday practice and media reports show that changes in the phenomenon of child and youth behavioural disorders have intensified in the last 15 years in Croatia. Some of the examples are higher intensity and complexity of disorders, especially recidivism, higher rates of violence and aggression, and also drug abuse. The characteristics and needs of young people at risk change constantly and rapidly, while the changes in social response to those needs lag behind.

From a conceptual viewpoint, the existing system in Croatia raises a number of questions concerning the adequacy of the interventions for the population of children and youths. For example: Is it possible to build a system which would respect children’s rights? Could such a system be adjusted to the individual psycho-social needs of a child? Is it possible to determine the characteristics of children and youths at risk that could influence decisions regarding treatment choice? These questions are of a great importance with regard to goal of this paper, which is an elaboration of assessment instruments and processes regarding risk and intervention needs of children and youths at risk or with behavioural disorders, and also matching the level of intervention with the needs, and with respect to children’s rights.

However, some changes in Croatian welfare and juvenile justice systems are taking place. On the one hand, these changes are happening ad hoc and unsystematically, while on the other hand there is a systematic approach based on the ongoing reform of social welfare and a few scientific projects. These scientific projects are trying to find theoretically and scientifically based and user-friendly approaches to risk assessment and interventions. Their focus is on the identification of disorders, appropriate treatment and determining the type of treatment. Accordingly, one such scientific project will be presented in this paper.

The key problem examined in this paper is the consideration of criteria and methods for ‘needs’ assessment as a base for a scientifically approved assessment instrument. The process of risk and needs assessment, as well as the implementation of interventions, is always contextually influenced. Croatia is a country in transition, with elements of traditional culture, but also with cultural elements of modern and postmodern times. This strongly influences the environment in which children grow up, as well as society’s response to unacceptable behaviour. Different aspects of modern and postmodern approaches influence the way Croatian society defines behavioural disorders, as well as the upbringing and education of children and youths in general. According to Žižak (2004), there are many difficulties in the consent of the experts when facing this problem. There is only partial reaction on the behaviour disorders and the consequences they bring since the domestic system of social reactions is not consistent and no scientifically based approach exists. That means it cannot be adjusted to modern (rehabilitation) or postmodern reconstructive and affirmative interventions.

Focussing specifically on the process of matching, it is important to mention the existing and/or prevailing ways of deciding on adequate intervention. When deciding on the type of interventions for children at risk or who have behavioural disorders, professionals are guided by experience and professional literature. According to Koren-Mrazović (1999), the circumstances and life domains which should be taken into consideration in that process are:

 

  1. Family circumstances and the characteristics of micro-system in which the person has been growing and developing
  2. Personal and developmental circumstances of a child or youth
  3. Duration of the personal and developmental circumstances
  4. Age of the child or youth
  5. Previously applied social interventions.

 

The criteria for choosing the intervention have to be complex and multidimensional: they need to focus on the personal characteristics of an individual and his or her surroundings, and also the possibilities which existing practice offers the continuum of services and interventions. When choosing the most appropriate intervention for children on an individual basis, a large number of circumstances need to be analysed. When the standardized criteria are lacking, experts often reach out for their own expertise’, which may lead to inconsistency in assessment and choosing inappropriate forms of care.

In looking for standardized criteria, an actuarial approach can be helpful. Actuarial instruments are structured, quantitative, and empirically linked to the relevant criterion (Bonta 2002). This approach to the assessment of needs and risks has the potential to help experts when choosing the appropriate intervention since it takes into consideration all of the aforementioned circumstances. It could also help with the matching of the practice and the criteria, as well as connecting all services dealing with children and youths with behavioural disorders. Efforts to match interventions to the needs of the children and youths at risk have existed in Croatia for some time, and the research conducted to date (Žižak et al. 1999; Žižak et al. 2001; Koller-Trbović & Žižak 2005) could form a good base for this process.

In this respect, the assessment instruments greatly contribute to the treatment planning. In addition to the contributions of the instruments of risks and/or needs assessment when choosing the intervention, they can also contribute to the treatment planning. The structure and the process of the programming (Koller-Trbović 1999) relate to defining the needs of youths and the aims of treatment, determining the type of help required, checking treatment possibilities, defining the content and methods of the work involved, defining time frames and enabling evaluation. Accordingly, the following presents a scientific project in progress at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences. Since the project is in progress, only some basics of the project will be described here, without the final results. However, these basics may contribute to an understanding of matching interventions with the needs of children. 

The project is titled Matching interventions with the needs of children at risk – creating a model, and the project is financed by The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports in the Republic of Croatia. The project leader is Antonija Žižak (PhD) and the purpose of the project is to emphasize a stronger and more explicit orientation of the interventions system towards the rights and needs of children and youths. The main goal of the project is to create and propose an intervention model for children with behavioural disorders or those at risk of developing behavioural disorders, primarily within the welfare system, which would be based on the scientific assessment of psycho-social risks and the intervention needs of the users. The specific goals (i.e. project proposal) are:

 

·      To develop, standardize and equip for practical implementation instruments for the assessment of needs and/or risks of children and youths at risk of having behavioural disorders

·      To screen and describe the population of children and youths included in the welfare intervention system through three key characteristics: risk levels, strengths and intervention needs, and also to analyse these characteristics from the perspective of the appropriateness of the interventions in which they are included

·      To screen and describe a one-year population of new service users – children and youths at risk of and/or having behavioural disorders, in relation to the key characteristics, namely risk levels, strengths and intervention needs

·      To propose an intervention system which is matched with the assessed risk levels, intervention needs and user strengths.

 

The starting point is related to the screening and description of the existing situation. In order to examine the population of children and youths in the existing intervention system, comprehensive screening was conducted. The screening included different types of treatment (Table 1). The whole population of children and youths under institutional treatment between 1 February 2008 and 31 March 2008 in the Republic of Croatia was also screened. Data on the population of children and youths in day treatment programmes and community-based programmes were assessed using representative samples.

 

Table 1. Number of research participants in different treatment programmes.

 

 

Type of Treatment

 

 

 

Institutional treatment

 

Day treatment programmes

Community-based programmes

Number of institutions

14

9

11

Number of participants

418

374

207

 

Another goal of the project is to describe a one-year cohort of new service users, (characteristics of the population of children and youths at risk of developing behavioural disorders), which will be examined using a representative sample. The participants will be potential new service users of various programmes in the welfare system during the year 2008.

 

Table 2. Youths as new service users and an overview of types of institution.

 

 

Institution Type

 

 

Social services

Juvenile justice system

Community services

Type and number of institutions

8 centres for social work

2 juvenile attorney’s offices

1 juvenile court

1 school

1 counselling centre

Number of participants

Final numbers not known

 

Given that the project is in progress, only a proportion of the activities have been completed, some of them are at planning stage, and some are in the process of implementation. Completed activities include the following:

 

·      Theoretically well-grounded instruments for assessment of risks and needs have been chosen.

·      A pilot project – analysing metric characteristics of instruments has been carried out.

·      The implementation of an ‘assessment/research’.

 

Activities in the process of implementation:

 

·      Screening and describing the population of youths through the use of the instruments.

·      Collecting, analysing and interpreting data – descriptive and comparative types (i.e. quantitative and qualitative methodology).

 

Future activities whose planning and implementation will follow:

 

·      Focus group discussions with experts, parents, children, and politicians in order to understand the wider concept of behavioural disorder.

·      Analyses of successful interventions systems (examples worldwide).

 

Prior to the implementation of the research, theoretically well-grounded instruments for the assessment of risks and/or needs and strengths were selected. The three following instruments were used in order to choose, standardize and adjust instruments to a population of Croatian children and youths at risk:

 

·      Child Behaviour Checklist for Ages 6 18 (CBCL/6-18) (Achenbach 1991)

·      Risk Factor Questionnaire (Scholte 1991)

·      The Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) (Andrews et al. 2002).

 

 

Child Behaviour Checklist for Ages 618 (CBCL/6-18)

The Child Behaviour Checklist for Ages 6 18 (CBCL/6-18) (Achenbach 1991) instrument is intended to be used for the assessment of the children’s competencies and behavioural and/or emotional problems. The purpose of using this instrument is to choose an adequate intervention and to develop an appropriate treatment programme and evaluation (www.aseba.org). There are three forms of the instrument; however, this research used only two: the Child Behaviour Check List and the Teacher Report Form. The versions of instruments used in this research were standardized for the Croatian population by Rudan et al. (2005) and are used with their permission.

Instrument(s) consists of two parts. The first part provides very specific information about a child’s activities, social relations and school performance, while the second part describes specific behavioural and emotional problems. The latter part (Teacher Report Form) contains 113 items of emotional and behavioural problems of children and youths. The items are divided either into eight cross-informant syndromes or into two general categories – internalizing and externalizing behaviour. The instrument includes withdrawn, anxious and/or depressed, somatic complaints under ‘internalizing behaviour’, while aggressive behaviour and rule-breaking behaviour are included under ‘externalizing behaviour’. Three syndromes are covered by any of general categories: social problems, attention problems and thought problems (Achenbach et al. 1995).

The CBCL/6-18 has multiple purposes. It can be used for the assessment of emotional and behavioural problems, the selection of interventions, the training of professionals, administrative classification, and the improvement of knowledge (Koller-Trbović 2008).

 

 

Risk Factor Questionnaire

The Risk Factor Questionnaire (Scholte 1991) has not been used in Croatia to date. However, it has been translated and used with the author’s permission. Accordingly, the usage of the instrument is not standardized, although pilot research has provided a very good metric characteristic of the instrument and has received good feedback from professionals regarding the usage of the instrument.

The purpose of the instrument is to define needs of children and youths and match them with interventions. The instrument is based on a socio-ecological approach and on Social Learning Theory (1990, acc. Scholte 1992). Accordingly, risk factors related to childhood behaviour disorders are divided into four groups: risk factors in family, in school, in peer group, and in personality. The division of behavioural problems is based on Achenbach’s division (internalizing and externalizing problem behaviours).

According to the socio-ecological model, whenever a problematic personality disposition in a child is accompanied by difficult educational development and conditions within its family, peer group, or at school, there is higher risk that the child will develop emotional and behavioural difficulties in the near future (Scholte 1992).

The instrument consists of 89 items, divided into 18 categories, or into six domains which are related to a socio-ecological model:

 

1. Externalizing behaviour (hyperactive, aggressive, antisocial)

2. Internalizing behaviour (depression, anxiety, social anxiety)

3. Personality development (self-control, locus of control, coping style)

4. Family (primary) environment (family conflict, supervision, attachment)

5. School (secondary) environment (school motivation, school achievement, teacher relations)

6. Peer (tertiary) environment (risky activities, peer relations, deviant peers).

 

 

The Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI)

The Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) (Andrews et al. 2002) has been used in Croatia since 1994, and was standardized in 2002 (Nikolić et al. 2002). Since then the instrument has been through minor content and graphic changes and currently needs to be re-evaluated and standardized again. 

The instrument produces a detailed survey of the risks and needs factors relating to youths. It provides a link between intervention and case plan. It is based on the Risk – Need – Responsivity (RNR) model. Risk factors are attributed to the individual and their environment. They are related to the appearance and development of criminal behaviour. Needs are dynamic and can change in the course of treatment interventions, and the addressing of such needs can reduce criminal activity. The importance of criminogenic needs is in the design and the delivery of the treatment. The principle of Responsivity describes how treatment should be provided. These factors are not related to criminal activity but to the type of intervention, meaning that the type of intervention must match the personal characteristics, learning style, intelligence, self-esteem, and motivation of an individual (Hoge & Andrews 2006).

A basic assumption of the instrument is that the causes of a young person’s criminal activity are complex interactions of variables of that person’s characteristics and their surrounding circumstances. Interventions must be matched with the level of risk, needs, responsivity, and strengths of the person and also that person’s environment.

The YLS/CMI is composed of the following seven sections: Assessment of Risks and Needs, Summary of Risk/Needs Factors, Assessment of Other Needs/Special Considerations, Professional Assessment of the Client’s General Risk/Need Level, Contact Level, Case Management Plan, and Case Management Review (Nikolić et al. 2002).

 

The aforementioned three instruments were chosen for the following reasons:

 

  • They belong to a third and fourth generation of instruments for the assessment of needs, strengths and risks
  • They measure dynamic risk characteristics and needs, and identify the key elements in coordinating users’ characteristics with the potential and/or chosen interventions
  • They do not burden experts or children with additional tests and procedures, which is particularly important when taking into account the ethics of conducting research with children
  • They enrich the existing practice of needs assessment in a new qualitative way
  • They look for both risks and protective factors (in the process of assessing key life segments of a young person).

 

Following the description of the project, it is very important to put it in the broader context of matching interventions with the needs of children. Two basic principles could potentially contribute to more explicit, timely, appropriate, and efficient interventions which are based on the rights and the needs of children and youths at risk. Thus, the necessity of matching the interventions to the needs of children and youths at risk may be justified. The basic principles, which will be discussed in detail in the following sections, are:

 

1. Principles of effective intervention

2. The rights of the child.

 

 

Principles of effective intervention

Former experience and research can be of considerable help when planning and creating effective intervention. Meta-analyses have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of various rehabilitation programmes, and some common characteristics have been summarized (Matthews et al. 2001, p. 455):

 

a)     Effective interventions are behavioural in their nature

b)    Levels of service should be matched to the risk level of the offender. Intensive services are necessary for high-risk offenders

c)     Intervention should identify the needs of offenders and should be matched to services designed to improve their specific needs

d)    Treatment approaches and service providers should be matched to the learning style or the personality of the offender

e)     The programme should be highly structured

f)     Staff members should be trained and supervised appropriately

g)     Treatment programmes should be evaluated through the goals of treatment

h)    Family members or significant others are trained how to assist clients during problem situations

i)      High levels of advocacy and brokerage occur if community services are appropriate.

 

One of the most important principles of classification and matching is the risk principle, which states that the level of service should be matched to the risk level of the person concerned (Andrews, Bonta, Hoge, 1990, acc. to Matthews et al. 2001). Effective intervention requires a good match between programme concept and the treated person (child). Therefore, these principles of effective interventions as the empirically based standards could serve as benchmarks for programme development (Matthews et al. 2001). This could ensure the adjustment of the intervention for every single child within its level of risk and needs.

Some of the principles of effective interventions are impossible to conduct without the instruments for risk and needs assessment, which could also function as an objective method of assessment. Without standardized methods of assessment, systems and treatment programmes are limited in their ability to match clients to appropriate services (Matthews et al. 2001).

The importance of the dynamic risk and/or needs assessments for case management is that they identify needs that serve as goals for treatment. They can be helpful for the delivery of treatment and for measuring progress in treatment. They may be useful with respect to responsivity considerations. The responsivity principle states that the style and mode of treatment must be matched to the cognitive, personality, and socio-cultural characteristics of the individual (Bonta 2002).  

It should also be noted that the aims of the project follow the principles of effective interventions, especially in the areas of matching the level of treatment to the risk level of an individual, identifying the needs which the treatment is based on and taking into consideration the learning style and personality of the person treated.

 

 

The rights of the child

Although this paper has so far been concerned with the intervention system, it should be borne in mind that the child and his/her needs is the focus of the matching. The second of the two studied principles will be of help in this respect.

On an individual level, the needs of a child are the basis for every human upbringing. According to Žižak & Vizek-Vidović (2004), the needs and rights are two sides of the same coin: on the one side there are needs as the natural bio-psychosocial phenomenon, and on the other side there are rights as societal phenomena. When recognizing and caring for children’s needs, we respect their rights. Conversely, violating their rights means endangering their needs. This is the reason why the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be a second point.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which the Republic of Croatia also signed and ratified, emphasizes rights which the state must ensure for every child. The Convention tends to take into consideration all the needs of a child as a human being and protects all children’s interests.

With regard to the needs of children, and taking the UNCRC into consideration, Article No. 3 could form a base for such activities (United Nations 1991, p. 3):

 

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

 

Thereby, developmental and protective rights must be a primary consideration in all actions undertaken. This right is respected by caring for the needs and individual characteristics of children and their environment.

When choosing an appropriate intervention, it is necessary to consider some other principles that put individualization, differentiation of the treatment and participation of children in focus. When deciding which type of treatment is in the best interests of a child or youth, the articles of special concern are those connected to the children’s participation, which include:

 

  • The right to express views freely in all matters affecting the child (UNCRC Art. 12, United Nations 1991 , p. 5)
  • The right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds (UNCRC Art. 13, United Nations 1991, p. 5)

 

The results of research with children with behavioural disorders who are placed in institutions (Koller-Trbović & Žižak 1999) are informative regarding the participation of children in the decision-making process on their future and treatment. According to the results, 44% of the children stated that they had the possibility to participate in the decision-making process, while 37% of them stated they had no such possibility. Regarding treatment planning, 14% of them said they had no opportunity to participate in their own treatment, while 45% of them stated they participated regularly.

Children’s participation in the decision-making process contributes to matching interventions with their needs. Analysis of results could form the ground for making decisions on adequate treatment. Also, this could be the base for cooperation and negotiation in the best interests of a child. In this sense, Croatia already has some experience relating to the participation of children and youths in the assessment process and in planning interventions (Koller-Trbović & Žižak 2005). Experience and the project results show that children learn the importance of responsibility and the importance of cooperation, while experts receive better insight into the situation, and are better able to make decisions and hence can expect better treatment results.

The next set of UNCRC articles that are important are those relating to the various forms of intervention:

 

A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counseling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programs and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence. (UNCRC Art. 40, United Nations 1991)

 

The basic criteria for forming the continuum of interventions are the needs of users. The existing concept of intervention continuum (acc. Bašić et al. 2004) is defined by interdependent continuums of risk/needs (minimal, medium, high, and very high risk), population (general, target and indicated population), interventions (primary prevention, early intervention, treatment), and programmes (developing the programme on different levels – community, family, school, individual). According to Bašić et al. (2004) a significant deficit in the approaches is apparent. Primary prevention is insufficiently developed and applied, there is a lack of sufficient and different early intervention programmes, treatment programmes are not attuned to the needs of the population, and there is no provision for post-treatment care. On the level of concrete programmes, there is deficit of programmes such as, for example, help within the family, out-of-court settlement, and counselling in crisis situations.

Based on these ideas, it can be seen that matching interventions to the needs of children is problematic. Instruments for needs and/or risk assessment could be helpful in respecting children’s needs and rights: they may enrich everyday practice, be helpful in treatment planning based on the needs of children and youths at risk, and generally be orientated to the identification of their needs.

Among many important children’s rights is their right to live with their parents. Separation should be enforced only in cases when a child’s interests are at risk. The institutions obliged to implement the UNCRC should protect children from abuse and neglect, intensify their upbringing within the family, and ensure the respect of children’s basic rights. Responsibility for a child is the parents’ obligation, and this is prescribed by national law (Koller-Trbović & Žižak 1999). Despite all of the efforts that have been made, there are situations which may lead to a child being separated from their family. Such occurrences are identified by the Family Act (Official Gazette Nos. 116/03, 17/04, 136/04, 107/07), the Social Welfare Act (Official Gazette Nos. 73/97, 27/01, 59/01, 82/01, 103/03, 44/06, 79/07), and the Act on Juvenile Courts (Official Gazette Nos. 111/97, 27/98, 12/02).

According to evidence from juvenile courts in Croatia, in the last 10 years the annual percentage of institutional sanctions has ranged from 8.3% to 16.9% (Državni zavod za statistiku 2006). Children placed in institutions are deprived of their right to live with their parents and in their own home, and sometimes in their community. This makes them particularly vulnerable in terms of fulfilling their own rights. The Committee on the Rights of Child suggested in its 2nd periodic report on child’s rights in Croatia that these difficulties, and many more, exist still in Croatia (2005; Articles 41 and 42, Conclusions).

In the context described, it is relevant to analyse the charter The Realization of the Children’s Rights in the Extrafamiliar Care (The National Association of the Child Care Workers 1993). This document is an informal addition to the UNCRC, with special focus on children placed in children’s homes and institutions. The charter has been published in Croatia on several occasions, and in 2008 it was printed as a special leaflet from the ombudsman for children, to support the standard to which Croatia aspires. The charter mentions the following set of rights (Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004):

 

  • Right to professional treatment
  • Right to the help of a competent professional
  • Right to information and participation in decision-making
  • Right to take personal responsibility.

 

Some of the rights are connected to children’s participation in procedures and decisions relating to their treatment and accommodation (Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004, p. 29):

 

  • To have a developmentally appropriate plan of care and a right to participate and make changes to it
  • A regular review of the plan of the placement and care and a right to participate and make changes to it
  • To be heard, particularly when decision are made concerning them. They must be given the opportunity to say what they want to say in their own way and be allowed to ask questions when they do not understand something.

 

In addition, children should:

 

  • Know their rights and responsibilities
  • They have a right to know the law regarding punishment of children in the residential facilities
  • Know the procedure to follow when making a complaint regarding the violation of their rights.

( Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004, p. 29)

 

Some of these rights are related to the treatment settings, conditions in treatment facilities and professional help:

 

  • Expect that their plan of care is based on a thorough and competent assessment of their needs and strengths, in the context of their family and community environments
  • The least restrictive and most empowering environment possible appropriate to their needs and problems
  • Care and intervention which respects their cultural, religious and individual differences
  • An education appropriate to their abilities.

( Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004, p. 29)

 

It is apparent that all of the aforementioned rights are children’s personal rights, but some are specifically emphasized here. Respecting them in institutions depends on the treatment policy of the given institution and the treatment staff. The following rights are relevant in this respect:

 

  • Personal privacy, adequate free time to pursue their own activities, and a right to their own possessions
  • Participate in sport, cultural and recreational activities in the community
  • Age-appropriate discipline
  • Regular contact with their parents, family and friends. They have the right to say if they are frightened or unhappy about seeing their parents or any other person, and cannot be forced to see anyone if they do not want to.

( Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004, p. 29)

 

Two groups of rights have been specifically extracted: professional treatment and children’s participation. The document emphasizes the importance of putting children in institutions in the same position as other children.

The charter The Realization of the Children’s Rights in the Extrafamiliar Care specially emphasizes children’s responsibility in addition to their rights. Other documents mention only the responsibilities and obligations of all those who participate in the education of children. The UNCRC mentions the responsibilities of adults towards children, as well as the obligations of different social institutions in protecting children. Constant work on fulfilling children’s rights and benefits is not a one-way process, and the responsibilities and obligations of adults differ from those of children. However, in order to make it a two-way process, all participants need to recognize their obligations and responsibilities as well as their rights. Thereby, children would not only be the subject of treatment, but they would begin to be active decision-making participants. If this were to happen, treatment would probably give better results and raise expectations. The aforementioned aspects of responsibility are (Žižak & Vizek-Vidović 2004, p. 30):

 

  • Respect the rights of others, and be helpful to others in the residential community
  • Maintain personal cleanliness and tidiness
  • Respect differences of culture and religion and those who are disabled.

 

The development in today’s society gives children many choices and decisions to make educational transitions and integration into the labour market. This emphasis upon self-actualization has significant impact upon individual needs and rights. Individual needs are no longer universal rights and general care, but the creation of possibilities and investment in children (Kemshall 2002; acc. Kemshall 2008). Professional forms of treatment and the diversity of interventions available enable us to go some way to meeting the needs of children and respect the rights of children in institutions.

 

 

Conclusions

To summarize, the key problem examined in this paper is the consideration of criteria and methods for needs assessment. In this respect, the scientifically based way of matching interventions with the needs of children has been presented in the context of Croatian society. The process of risk and needs assessment as well as the implementation of interventions is always contextually influenced. Thus, the aims of the project follow the principles of effective interventions, especially in the areas of matching the level of treatment to the risk level of an individual, identifying the needs which the treatment is based on, and taking into consideration the personality and learning characteristics of the person treated.

In the context of children’s rights, it can be seen that the matching of interventions to the needs of children with instruments of assessment could be helpful in respecting their rights. This could enrich everyday practice, be helpful in treatment planning based on the needs of children and youths at risk, and generally be directive in the identification of their needs.

 

 

 

 

References

 

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Copyright for the I.U.C. Journal of Social Work Theory and Practice is owned by the Social Work Program, Department of Social Relations and Services, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minnesota, USA. One copy may be made (printed) for personal use; teachers may make multiple copies for student use if the copies are made available to students without charge. Permission must be secured from the editors for sale of any copies of articles or for any commercial use of the material published in the Journal.
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