This Saturday, November 20, a “Charter of the rights of children protected to social assistance to children” will be distributed by the Secretary of State. This atypical text was written by Gautier Arnaud-Melchiorre, a former placed child, after having heard 1,500 young people taken in by foster families or homes.
→ READ. Foster families, a life alongside the children of others
Several provisions concern, without naming it, a right to attachment, to a little affection within the institution. Thus, among the first rights claimed is that of “Count on someone, count on someone”.
“Develop the feeling of existing”
This finding does not surprise Marc Chabant, director of development for the Fondation Action jeunesse. “One of the major problems of these children is their social isolation”, he advances.
To be convinced of this, he organized a survey of 450 children welcomed at the foundation. At the question “How many adults can you count on? “, 48% responded “Zero or one”. By way of comparison, the same question, asked to 150 non-placed third-grade college students, gives the following answer: “Between 5 and 6”, explains the manager.
Since then, the Fondation Action jeunesse has made work on children’s social capital at the heart of its pedagogy. “We try to organize sponsorships, mentoring, so that they can find help, but also develop the feeling of existing in the eyes of adults”, explains Marc Chabant again. On a daily basis, in the foundation’s children’s villages, educators can allow themselves to give an evening kiss, to hug the children, for example.
“We must review the training”
However, this type of approach comes up against strong reluctance within the Child welfare, which advocates professional distance, noted Gauthier Arnaud-Melcchiore. Thus, some foster families have children who are considered too attached to them withdrawn.
Fabienne Quiriau, president of Cnape, a federation of associations, confirms this observation and calls for a change of mentality. “We must review the training of social workers, she suggests. Currently, they are taught that distance is the only way for them to cope with the complicated situations they face. They are also told that this is the only way not to take the place of the parents in the heart of the child. “
“The distance is at the limit of professional error”
However, “The distance can bebordering on professional error when working in child protection ”, considers for his part the child psychiatrist Romain Dugravier, head of department at the Sainte-Anne hospital in Paris and member of the “1000 days” committee, a recognized specialist in attachment theory. According to him, this notion should, on the contrary, be the compass of social workers since it is essential to grow well. He recalls that this observation was dramatically brought to light in the 1950s, during the “hospitalization” crisis. At the time, abandoned babies placed in nurseries withered away even when they were fed and cared for, failing to meet the gaze of an adult. “Everything changed the day these babies were cradled and hugged”, explains the doctor.
Likewise, children in care who have experienced trauma must be able to exist in the eyes of one or more adults. “It has nothing to do with emotional competition with parents, he hammers. It is about surrounding the child with sufficiently predictable adults, whom he knows will meet his needs. The plan of a foster family, for example, must be to help the child to have this type of reassuring experience, which will make him understand that he can rely on others. “ Which doesn’t mean forgetting your parents.