Best Interests of the Child: Exploring Social Science and Jurisprudential Perspectives

in Children and Childhood: Practices and Perspectives
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In this chapter we share our beginning journey to better understand the notion of best interests of the child from two perspectives: a social science perspective and a jurisprudential perspective. First, to explore the best interests of the child from a social science viewpoint, an electronic Delphi survey approach was used with leading/executive human services professionals (from health, social services, education, and justice) and state-level public policy makers to ascertain their extant notions of the best interest of the child and related issues. Just over 80 intersectorial experts (by position), whose work directly or indirectly (policy or administration) related to children and their families, provided their viewpoints. Second, this chapter describes our exploration of the best interests of the child concept from a jurisprudential angle. This involves a consideration of the special nature of children’s rights along with a brief analysis of two important Supreme Court of Canada decisions where the focus is on best interests of the child.

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