4.1. Limitations of the study
The research framework generates outcomes that are by their nature country-specific. Yet,
specificities have been carefully considered during the analysis of discussion themes and
Moreover, although literature outlines that three to six focus groups are sufficient to capture
most prevalent themes (between 80 and 90%) within a given dataset,20 the limited number
of focus groups’ discussions in this study nevertheless reduces the possibility of having a
highly stratified ensemble of participants, narrowing the analysis to that part of the sub-
group identified in the definition of the target group. Nevertheless, attempts have been made
to extend the discussion and reflection of children participating in the focus groups towards
children belonging to other conditions of disadvantage (e.g. Roma children).
Finally, limited questions were formulated on ECEC due to the difficulty adoles cents have
discussing their remote past. The chil dren were nevertheless able to express their views
on ECEC and provide significant arguments for the analysis.
4.2.1. Validity of the Children’s Voices study
The primary objective of the consultation wit h children is to conduct a reality check of the
experts’ analysi s carried out within the framework of the FSC G, to confirm the findin gs,
identifying any gaps or emerging issues not easi ly identifiable through quantitative
research methods. It also aims at advising how child participation can integrate the
development and delivery of a future Child Guarantee initiative.
Accordingly, children have gene rally confirmed the findings of FSCG experts’ analyses in
the areas/themes which are fami liar to them or that they have knowledge of. As an
example, children were particularly talkative (and accurate) about education (school),
which is the milieu wh ere they spend most of their time, and where their ca pabilities in
learning, socio-emotional and physical/mental development are either strengthened or
undermined. It is also t he place that they know best, along with their home. The findings
of the focus groups’ discussions align with those determined by th e quantitative analyses,
but they also reveal and enrich some themes which were less explored in the latter, such
as the quality and inclusiveness (and its meaning) of the school environment.
Conversely, discussions about nutrition and health were limited and, on ECEC, almost non-
existent. Children seem not to percei ve h ealth or nutrition as major issues. This is also
determined by the feeling of having little expertise on these subj ects, apart from children
with disabili ties, for whom health is a prominent concern. They nevertheless brought to
attention the matter of mental distress and the lack of responsiveness of the h ealthcare
system in this respect. With reference to ECEC, it is hard for children to remember
experiences whi ch happened in the past, an d particularl y in their early yea rs. However,
the few themes di scussed outlin e similarities with the experts’ a nalysis (e.g. the
importance of childcare for both the families and the child, and the need to work on the
inclusiveness of pedagogical approaches).
The findings of the focus groups, while strengthening and enriching the results of the
analysis, also highlight children’s capacity t o assess human conditions with rigor, and
therefore the possibilit y o f mainstream participati on in the process of design ing,
operationalising and monitoring the Chil d Guarantee initiative. The focus gr oups’
discussions were warmly received by chi ldren. They felt that their voice was h eard, which
is unusual, especially for those living in severely disadvantaged conditions.
20 Guest, G., Namey, E., & McKenna, K. (2016). How many focus groups are enough? Building an evidence base
for nonprobability sample sizes. Field Methods, 29(1), 1–20.