A tool to encourage children under protective care to participate in their experience

Fondation Dora is supporting the Particip’action association with its project to produce and distribute a tool named “Chemin de Vie” (Life Journey) intended for children in foster care and the professionals who work with them.

In social work in general and especially in the context of child protective services for minors, professionals often lack the tools and toolkits to ensure that children are truly involved in each step of the procedures taken on their behalf. Although this is true for all minors, the situation is even more evident for children under the age of eight. Accordingly, various studies have shown that children do not systematically have a voice in all the procedures that concern them.

The Particip'action association has designed a tool called “Chemin de Vie” that it is providing to professionals with an initial goal of using it to educate children about: who is who, what is everyone’s role, who decides on the number of parental visits, etc. The tool is also meant to give the child a voice (how many visits with Papa would you like?), to take the child’s point of view into consideration (to provide feedback, explain why the number of visits requested with Papa were not accepted), and to remain available for the duration of the child’s placement process.


The « Chemin de Vie » looks like a large book with pages that include various magnet figures to illustrate the child’s environment (parents, grandparents, cuddly toy, house, school, etc.), his or her background (family crisis, parental hospitalization, death, etc.), his or her emotions (fear, anger) and the placement procedure (judge, police, foster home, etc.). By opening the book and making use of the figures, the child can express his or her emotions, desires, feelings, etc.

After being shown to numerous social work practitioners working with children, the “Chemin de Vie” very quickly proved to offer a suitable response to daily needs. Although designed specifically for child placement situations, it became clear that the tool could be easily adapted for numerous other sectors including childcare centers, hospitals, and family law proceedings. 

Particip'action (founded in 2015) is a Swiss association dedicated to the practical implementation of children’s rights, especially for young children living outside the family context to exercise their right to participate.

Fondation Dora supports the Particip'action association for a three-year period beginning in 2019.