AuthorVan Hove, G.; Gradinaru, C.; Morabito, C.; De Schauwer E.; Mattelin, E.
Feasibility Study for a Child Guarantee (FSCG) Children’s Voices
2. Methodology
2.1. The rationale for the focus groups’ method7
Focus groups’ discussions constitute a democratic and pedagogical process in which
children share their knowledge about living conditions, while also building their confidence
and rai sing their voice to become advocates and researchers in their own communities,
and hence agents of change.
The focus groups’ method is particularly relevant for the s cope of the FSCG, since it has
been demonstrated to be effective in enhancing participation among underprivileged
individuals and groups8 and exploring tacit, u ncodified and experiential knowledge.9 In
recent years, focus groups have been increasin gly employed in qualitative research in the
area of poverty and social exclusion,10 and with specific reference to family and children.11
2.2. Selection of participants
In each of the four di fferent countries selected, one focus group has been undertaken,
focusing on one of the identified Target Groups:
Belgium: Children with disabilities.
Italy: Children living in precarious family situations.
Romania: Children residing in an institution.
Sweden: Children with a migrant background (including refugee children).
The selection of the co untries followed a number of criteria: geographical representation
of the European Union; representation of the d iversity of European welfare systems; and,
ultimately, the existence of established partnerships and projects between Save the
Children/Eurochild and local NGOs or research centres involving children belongi ng to the
identified Target Groups.
A total of 35 children aged between 9 and 17 years participated in the focus groups: seven
in Belgium, nine in Italy, ten in Romania and nine in Sweden. The composition of the focus
groups was kept to a minimum of seven and maximum of ten children in order to favour
the participation of all children.
Children participating in the focus groups were selected by Save the Children and Eurochild
members and partners through snowball sampling12 i n each of the four countries, starting
from those participating in existing projects.
Recruitment of the participants was done through the involvement of local Save the
Children and Eurochild partners.
Belgium. The focus group discussion took place at the Department of Special Needs
Education a t Ghent University, in the presence of three staff from Ghent University,
along with parents and/or p ersonal assistants of the children. Children were selected
from among those following an inclusive trajectory i n regular secondary schools in the
region of Flanders.
7 The methodology has been adapted to facilitate discussions with children with disabilities. For example, a greater
role has been given to the facilitator in co nducting the group discussion, structured more in f orm of
questions/interviews than open dialogue.
8 Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative research. Introducing focus groups. British Medical Journal, 311, 299302.
9 Hopkins, P. E. (2007). Thinking critically and creatively about focus groups. Area, 39, 528535.
10 Morgan, D. L. (1996). Focus groups. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 129152.
11 Rodriguez, K. L., Schwartz, J. L., Lahman, M. K. E., & Geist, M. R. (2011). Culturally responsive focus groups:
Reframing the research experience to focus on participants. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 10,
12 Ibidem.

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