Attitudes towards social support and assistance for children left behind in Latvia: guardians and experts’ approaches
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The article focuses on the care arrangements for children left behind and interaction with social support services from the perspective of guardians and experts. The global migration trends are discussed, revealing that economic, social and political reasons in combination with perceived solutions and future prospects motivate parents to emigrate. Family and parental crisis before the act of emigration, restrictions and uncertainty in destination countries, support parents’ decisions to leave children behind. Care and protection of children left behind are analysed with focus on concepts of transnational care arrangements and emphasis on the role and functions of guardians as an alternative care form. Rationale and selected examples of innovative practices of provided social support services and assistance are presented. Empirical research focuses on guardians’ subjective perspectives on assuming the role and interaction with social environment providing services and assistance and on experts’ attitudes towards interventions applied and on what social services are necessary and how available and accessible they are. Qualitative research approach was chosen; there were accomplished 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews with the guardians, experts and social mentors, selected using purposeful sampling strategy. The data has been analysed using thematic content analysis method. The results revealed that the guardians seem to prefer informal social support over state organized groups, while professionals value all support groups. Experts and social mentors see social mentoring as effective form of support for adolescents and affirm young people’s testimonials of gained trusting relationship with the mentor and new social ties to peers. The experts pointed out inequality in access to social services and differences in social assistance nation-wide in Latvia.
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