CFC / Child protection and poverty / 10 January 2023 (article proposals)

Call for multidisciplinary papers on:

“Child protection and poverty”

for the third 2023 issue of RFAS.

The brief will be coordinated by Flore Capelier (ONPE) and Isabelle Frechon (UVSQ, Printemps laboratory)

This call for papers is aimed at researchers in sociology, anthropology, economics, demographics, statistics, law, political science, education sciences, history and geography

The deadline for article proposals is Tuesday, 10 January 2023.

(see format at end of call)

Articles must be submitted before Tuesday, 4 April 2023.

This issue of RFAS aims to shed light on the impacts of poverty on those who are taken into child protection and on the experience of children who are the subject of a protection order. Therefore, will concentrating on the living conditions of children and families identified by child protection services contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and limitations surrounding public action? To answer these questions, this call proposes three areas of focus:

1/ Children in danger, social services and child protection

2/ Poverty, maintaining family ties and child protection

3/ The risks of perpetuating poverty to which protected children are exposed

This call for papers is based on a review of mainly French literature. It is open to international contributions that will bring different insights related to the social policy and child protection contexts of the country in question. Contributions are expected in French or English. In case of contributions in English, they will be published in English with a French summary.

In 2018, 2.9 million minors in France lived in households in which the standard of living was below the monetary poverty line, which represented 21% of children (INSEE, 2021). The material deprivation rate, which provides information on the shortage of goods and services declared by households, also has more of a negative impact on children[1] (ONPES, 2017). Ultimately, 610,000 children under 18 years old and living in ordinary housing experience situations of extreme poverty (INSEE, 2021) [see Box 1: Defining child poverty in France].  At the same time, child protection services take care of 308,000 children (as of 31/12/2020), which is equal to 2% of those under 18 years old, and 32,000 young adults under 21 years old (1% of 18-20-year-olds) [see Box 2: Protecting children in danger in France]. Although not all poor children are known to children protection services, it is now a well-established fact that children in care most often come from working-class backgrounds that are less stable. In fact, this strong correlation between child protection and the socioeconomic instability of families is highlighted frequently (not exhaustively by Sécher, 2010; INSEE Nord-Pas-de-Calais, 2013; Potin, 2014; Dietrich-Ragon, 2020). Collecting this type of information continues to be complex, despite these initial studies. On the one hand, it is not noted systematically in files (Frechon et al., 2009) and, on the other hand, it remains difficult to observe poverty over time or from a biographical perspective because it is often a stage in family life (Dubar, Nicourd, 2017). However, poverty is more prevalent among children than among adults (ONPES, 2017).

The forms of poverty vary inconsistently depending on the number of children, family structure (couple, single-parent family, etc.) or even immigration status (Castillo Rico et al., 2019), with these three phenomena being interdependent in part. In a study comparing single-parent families that have immigrated with other single-parent families, the former have a greater risk of living in material and residential deprivation than others due to a higher number of children, a lower level of education and unstable employment (Thierry et al., 2018). Furthermore, these single-parent families are, for the most part, single mothers, which could be cause for a reflection on gender balances to highlight the links between child protection and poverty.

In addition, child poverty can be explained by the situation experienced within the family, but also by the isolation of some foreign children. Since the start of the 2000s, unaccompanied minors who arrive in Europe after having fled their home country for economic reasons, because they are victims of human trafficking or to escape armed conflict have again been cause to re-examine the actions of public authorities and, more specifically, measures for child protection. The financial poverty of these children, like their isolation, reveals the inadequacy of the resources available to them in their direct, family, social, cultural environment, etc. This instability, which is significant from when they arrive in Europe, raises a larger question on their protection and, over time, their social and professional integration. This is a matter of questioning the way in which the child protection system responds to the poverty these children experience.

First and foremost, this means understanding how the circumstances of a child’s poverty factor into the characterisation of danger that they face, as it is – at least for the French situation – currently the basis for intervention by departmental child protection services (art. L221-1 of the French Family and Social Action Code, CASF), such as the children’s court (art. 375 et seq. of the French Civil Code). How is this aspect taken into consideration? In addition, is it possible to identify causal links – either direct or indirect – between the poverty experienced by the child and the occurrence of danger or risk of danger for the child? The question is complicated because assessments of dangers are often based on a group of indicators that lead to recognising an accumulation of risk factors that hinder child development. Therefore, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights[2] regularly reiterates that the poverty experienced by a child in their family cannot be used as the sole justification for a separation order for the purpose of child protection.

Article L112-4 of the CASF indicates that “the interest of the child, taking into account their fundamental, physical, intellectual, social and emotional needs, as well as respect for their rights, must guide all decisions concerning them”. However, by definition, poor families face more difficulties in freeing up financial resources that would allow them to respond to these needs with regard to the cost of food, housing, transport, clothes and education. Carrying out systematic health assessments for young people during a first child protection measure shows issues of malnutrition and anaemia in certain areas with high rates of social instability (Rousseau, 2016). The stress linked to low income may place psychological demands on individuals that can affect their judgement and decision-making abilities (Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir & Zhao, 2013), and could put strain on the attachment relationshipthat links children and parents through educational responses that are not adapted to or reassuring for the child (Guedeney, 2011).

The material conditions or housing conditions of varying extremity known to the child may play a decisive role in characterising the risk of danger they face to the extent that the assessment of child endangerment aims to evaluate “the fundamental needs and rights, health and conditions for education, development, well-being and potential indications of suffering in the minor[3]”.

Poverty may also play an indirect, but particularly significant, role in the education received by children. When families face limitations in income, they may be faced with stress factors that affect relationships and the ability to participate (Conger & Conger, 2002; Ghate, Hazel, 2002; Lacharité, 2021) and may lead to gaps in educational standards, as noted by social workers, regardless of whether this concerns physical or mental abuse or situations of neglect (Berger, 2007; Slack, 2004; Lacharité, 2021). However, as in other Western countries (Trocmé et al., 2013), French legislation places the primary responsibility for a child’s education on the holder of parental authority. The arguments in the assessment of danger are presented by highlighting the role played by parents – and especially the mother (Stettinger, 2018a) – in child development and generally do not mention the conditions for parenting when experiencing poverty. This results in minimising the role of public authorities, and particularly social services, in regulating these situations.

Lastly, the link between child protection and poverty is now the subject of an updated review. The sector is currently facing different changes, including, on the one hand, the consequences of the pandemic, which are likely to exacerbate the socioeconomic situation for some families and also lead to an increased number of measures taken for child protection[4], and, on the other hand, strong tensions concerning recruitment in social and medico-social careers, which raise the question of the attractiveness of these professions. In this context, the vacant posts and difficulties with recruitment, such as the lack of financial and institutional recognition of social professionals, who are also often criticised, have led to recent government decisions (notably the Ségur des métiers du social programme). These various elements influence the links between child protection and poverty, addressing the question of the time available for each family, as well as the conditions for prevention, identification and support for children and young people in danger and experiencing poverty.

Area of focus 1 – Children in danger, social services and child protection

This is a matter of questioning the link between poverty in families and the operation of public institutions that are called on to intervene to protect children who were in a dangerous situation. Although the social category of poor people refers to those who receive assistance or should receive it according to social standards (Simmel, 1998), the same process applies to children in danger. Therefore, the characterisation of a dangerous situation or just a risk of danger to a child is an essential stage in determining the degree to which the public authority interferes in the private lives of families (Capelier, 2015). In this context, it appears to be vital to evaluate the child’s circumstances, as the assessor’s “rightful role” (Robin, 2013).

At the moment, modalities, such as the content of this assessment, are defined by the aforementioned decree of 28 October 2016 and professionals are, in principle, specially trained in carrying out this task; however, the question of subjectivity relevant in this field, like the situation of poverty in the families concerned, may have an influence on classifying the situation and could be addressed in more depth. Similarly, it is also the method used to identify and assess the go-to people in the child’s environment and the option to arrange kinship care (Tillard, Mosca, 2019). Article 1 of the law of 7 February 2022 on child protection reiterates, in this respect, the importance of a preliminary assessment of resources in a family environment before making any decisions on placement in care.

In addition, in France, the studies launched by Delphine Serre highlight the greater expectations for social support with regard to families that are more dependent on assistance, especially concerning immigrant families (Serre, 2010). These expectations are counterbalanced by a method of understanding that is “relativist, combining the materialist and culturalist view” (Serre, 2010; Simon, Truffin, 2016; Bessière et al. 2018; David & Rafin, 2019) at the risk of creating inequalities in management (Chaïeb, 2020). How does poverty interfere in this decision-making process? To what extent are social support measures, parental support, intervention in families or even foster or residential care included in the danger identification process that is primarily targeted at families experiencing poverty? This strengthened social check is also feared by poor families and criticised by organisations such as ATD Fourth World (HCFEA, 2018; ONPES, 2016). Articles that focus on the risks of inequalities linked to identifying dangerous situations for the child by taking into consideration processes from the impoverishment of families (separation, single-mother family, unemployment or unstable employment, educational unavailability, isolation, etc.) to decisions on measures, whether judicial or administrative, at home or in care, would be welcome to support reflection on the subject.

Although violence towards children affects all social classes, there is an overrepresentation of declarations of violence towards children experienced during childhood when the father is unemployed (Charruault et al., 2020), without connecting unemployment to poverty. In contrast, abuse in wealthy environments is less visible and seems to be observed less by social services. It would be worth studying these statements in greater depth because there is a lack of scientific work on the subject. Several hypotheses can also be drawn from this, for example, that it concerns a feeling of unease professionals may have when identifying and assessing dangerous situations in wealthier families, strategies to avoid social services devised by the families concerned or even opposing powers mobilised by these families, such as the more systematic presence of lawyers or pleas before the family court judge. Complementary studies on how to identify – through school, extracurriculars, doctors and hospital professionals, social services, even neighbours, etc. – situations where children are in danger and intervene in the families depending on their socioeconomic standard of living could therefore be an interesting counterpoint.

Furthermore, the different institutions and social services (general social services, protection for mothers and children, benefits office) lead to carrying out work on preventing risks of danger to the child. As such, young children (under 6 years old) are usually the subject of a child protection measure following an intervention at home (ONPE, 2020). Some departmental child protection programmes encourage this link between social services and similar programmes by child welfare services by reiterating the importance of involving whenever possible the multidisciplinary social services, maternal and child protection services and common law services.

This call for papers could be the opportunity to put the spotlight on studies aiming to better understand the experience of children and the boundary between the common law actions taken for prevention purposes and child protection measures. With regard to contemporary perspectives on being a good parent (Martin, 2014), the recent changes in social action and support directed at families, as well as participatory measures (Seraphin, 2013, Cardi, 2015) and even “outreach” policies (Baillergeau, Grymonprez, 2020), do these strengthen or extend the links between poverty and child protection from involvement in the measure?

Questions on the way in which at-home interventions provide support to children in danger or at risk of danger within poor families remain unanswered as there are many social requirements that come from a wide range of uncoordinated directions (Rurka et al., 2019). In addition, given the lack of solutions in the common law sectors, administrative measures for child protection (support at home and temporary fostering) are requested or accepted by “socially limited” parents so as to fulfil their role as parents due to the accumulation of risks among families in unstable circumstances (single parents, social isolation, working non-standard hours, inadequate housing) (Touahria-Gaillard, 2021). The trend towards contractualisation that has been developing within all social policies and in the field of child protection – in France since 2007, through the Projet Pour l’Enfant project[5], the temporary fostering agreement[6] and the young adult agreement (CJM)[7] –  examines the asymmetry between the user and administration, all the more so when the family or young person is in a situation of extreme poverty (Lacroix, 2015; Jung, 2010).

From this perspective, the intervention of public authorities for the purpose of child protection pursues multiple objectives that are sometimes difficult to reconcile, between respecting the rights of endangered children, the prerogatives recognised by those with parental authority and pursuing the general interest through services that are largely decentralised (Capelier 2015). In other words, it is a matter of finding a balance between the right to a private family life and the challenges linked to social control and protecting the population, especially children. These reflections are translated into reality through professional practice. To give a specific example, when a family is identified by social services, or is already being supported for child protection reasons, the arrival of a new child triggers an immediate check (Stettinger, 2019).

When dealing with older age groups, the causes linked to family poverty become blurred to give way to the behaviours of young people themselves or their family isolation (Boujut, Frechon, 2009). Then, instead of examining the circumstances that shed light on the family’s situation, child protection services look into the behavioural problems of young people. Worrying information expressed in this context comes from varying sources (schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.).

Child protection also responds to certain forms of poverty, including children separated from their parents for varying lengths of time (homeless juveniles, young people not in school, young runaways, young people kicked out by their families, unaccompanied minors). In some cases, homelessness precedes the child protection action (Frechon, Marpsat, 2016; Dietrich-Ragon, 2020). Between some young people in unstable circumstances requesting protection and, on the other hand, others who try to escape it, these situations lead professionals to work on the fringes of child protection, sometimes using the same accommodation as adults homeless associations. This aspect of the subject, which aims to better understand the dynamics at work between the poverty of families and issues with behaviour and isolation in adolescents or young people, could be the subject of additional papers useful to this theme.

Area of focus 2: Poverty, maintaining family ties and child protection

This concerns questioning the various forms of social distance at work between the timelines of poverty and child protection actions, as these distances then give way to questions on maintaining or severing family ties.

Although the law indicates that placing children in care is temporary, in practice, these measures separate children from their parents in the long term. Although children of all ages come under child protection, it is evident that the majority of children are still in care right before they turn 18. 31% of a cohort of children who have been in at least one foster or residential care measure went back to their family following a new placement (Frechon, Robette, 2013). These journeys back and forth often have harmful effects on their development. It may also damage their image of their parents (Paugam, 2014). Therefore, how is it possible “to withstand the identity labels that come with the stigma of an intervention by child welfare services” (Touahria-Gaillard, 2021)? The check by social services (Donzelot, 1977; Serre 2009, 2010, 2012), which weighs on the family, and especially on the mother (Giuliani, 2014; Stettinger, 2018b), the lack of participation by parents/the mother in the supports put in place for the child and the social distance created by the child being supported and their parents may have a demoralising effect on some parents (ONPES, 2016).  In this way, Séverine Euillet highlights that foster family care creates differences in living standards that become visible, on the one hand, in the foster family’s income, but also in pocket money, holidays, leisure activities, clothes, accessories and a comfortable environment (Euillet, 2011). The different type of socialisation for the child also contributes to gradually exacerbating the distances that hinder their return to their family. On the other hand, kinship care leads to questions on the role of the economic resources of parents and guardians – from the same family – during the move and, to a lesser extent, the fostering process (Tillard, B, Mosca S., 2019). Lastly, foster or residential care raises the issue of maintaining ties with those who are likely to be from their original home environment, especially if they are experiencing poverty.

Studies on maintaining links between children from poor families and their parents and siblings and, more generally, figures from their original home environment, would be interesting in order to understand the way in which these links are managed, if this is the case, what they can provide for the child and/or the social distance that can appear between the fostered child and their original home environment. The place of the father – who is often absent from social interventions – deserves to be better explained in this particular context of family poverty.

In addition, the situation of being in poverty may be connected to the changing composition of the family. In other words, a family’s poverty may coincide with a couple’s separation, the death of a parent or even the birth of a new child (the older children having been protected from poverty earlier). Papers on the experience of children in poverty within their family and in the institution and their life stories could be an interesting additional area of focus in order to understand children’s living conditions.

In addition, the number of siblings, blended families and the age difference between the child and their siblings may also be additional obstacles to maintaining ties between the child and their original home environment (parents, siblings, other figures). When several siblings are placed in different foster families or foster homes, the enforced moves caused by extreme poverty may complicate the ability to maintain ties.

Similarly, the family’s housing conditions are also important to take into account. An unstable housing situation may be a source of difficulties for families, especially with regard to the regional organisation of services. The issue of inadequate housing, as well as unstable housing or even emergency or social housing, and the connection between families and the different individuals who are likely to support them with accommodation in addition to child protection are major topics. Geographic mobility is also a challenge in coordinating different services and a family moving repeatedly could pose a real obstacle to protecting the child concerned. This was illustrated notably in the recent condemnation of France in the Marina case (ECHR, 4 June 2020, no. 15343/15, Association Innocence en danger et a. v. France). These elements could justify a call for papers on the residential histories of families and children with regard to child protection.

Maintaining links between the poor child and their family also raises financial questions to guarantee the quality of rights to visits and accommodation and to ensure that the main parties concerned can visit the child’s foster home (Join-Lambert et al., 2014). Foster or residential care also raises the option for poor families to participate directly and financially in the support for their child (Join-Lambert, 2013). However, in France, there are many and very varied financial supports put in place. In addition, they are not always claimed (this refers, in particular, to food services that can be requested under certain situations). Other measures that are currently in place, such as those related to the creation of a savings fund for young people in care based on the back-to-school allowance[8], may also be difficult to understand for families and may even weaken their financial situation by taking away this allowance. The same applies to financial participation, which may be requested from families by the departmental child protection services, with the idea that this participation demonstrates the family’s involvement (Euillet, 2011).

Lastly, foster or residential care can have impacts on the parent-child relationship, due to the inherent effects of foster care, but also due to the nature of this fostering and “cultural adaptation” that may be needed for poor children, especially when foster homes are located in privileged areas. This acculturation is even greater for children from migrant families or for unaccompanied minors (Chaïeb, 2020).

Area of focus 3: The risks of perpetuating poverty to which protected children are exposed

Young people leaving child welfare services (care leavers) are a group targeted by public authorities as being at risk of poverty and over several years. They are often perceived as being the “most vulnerable young people” (Livre Vert[9], 2009). The subject has been the focus of numerous public reports since 2015 (IGAS[10], 2015; CESE[11], 2018; Fondation Abbé Pierre[12], 2019). In addition, it has been an item on the agenda of public authorities several times in the context of a 2018 strategy to combat poverty and also more recently as part of parliamentary discussions related to the pandemic, then the law of 7 February 2022. This area of focus proposes concentrating on the dynamics at work leading to risks of perpetuating poverty: is it avoidable? Between public solidarity and family solidarity, which individuals and supports are available to care leavers to continue their journey to integration?

In France, youth is characterised by a strong familiarity with the process of transition as the integration of young people is far more the result of family solidarity than institutional support (Van de Velde, 2008). There are support systems in place for young adults under 25 years old, but these are still allocated under specific conditions. The applicable law leads to public policy being divided up in favour of vulnerable young people. The contractual logics and the “biographical dimension” at work in individualised integration policies are also involved in public policies aimed at young people (Loncle, 2013). Paradoxically, they exclude those who are the most socially disadvantaged from support and integration measures because they do not meet – or meet to a lesser extent – the norms and expectations of the institution (Lima, 2016; Dietrich-Ragon, Frechon, 2022). The issue of non-take-up of the supports or, on the contrary, different forms of using the common law supports aimed at the poorest young people (Garantie Jeunes scheme [Couronné et al. 2019], Contrat d’Engagement Jeune, youth RSA, support funds for at-risk youth (FAJ), support for those who are homeless) would be worth looking into, including in comparison with non-take-up among young people in general. It is the same as the effects of the law of 14 March 2016, which provides for the allocation and payment by the Caisse des Dépôts and allocation of a savings fund to young adults who have been cared for by child welfare services when they were a minor[13].

Despite this, young people in care are faced with preparation for accelerated and standard independence, which aims to respond to the lack of family support to manage this transitionary stage. This is a twofold dimension within child welfare services as it aims to direct young people towards common law services by gradually ending the support provided by the departmental child welfare services (at 21 years old at the latest, art. L221-1 of the CASF) and to also avoid exits with “no parachute”, meaning those with no integration prospects[14]. This particular situation results in earlier social and professional integration for care leavers compared to the general population, as well as greater institutional and social pressure with regard to achieving economic and financial independence (for a literature review, see Frechon, Lacroix, 2020). A better understanding of the experiences of care leavers and their individual and familial journeys (with a return to the family on some occasions) is an important aspect for better understanding both the needs of these young people and also the challenges of structuring public policies in this area. In addition, papers focussing on the different types of solidarity that work to avoid social exclusion (Paugam, 1991) and on which care leavers rely or cannot rely over the course of this transitional period would clarify the processes for replicating them in the future and for removing the risk of poverty. How can young people leaving care enlist the help of their family and/or friends, who are sometimes faced with poverty themselves?  What obstacles do they face in asking for help? Lastly, mutual assistance from peers could also be a focus for papers: youth in care networks (Lacroix, 2016), older brothers or sisters who can take in their siblings or enlisting the network of family, friends and community that has been built and maintained by the young person.

In addition, the timescale for having children varies according to the level of education, as women with more qualifications have their first child later in life (INSEE, 2017).  Therefore, young adults leaving care sometimes begin relationships more quickly than young people of the same age in the general population (Goyette, Turcotte, 2011; Ganne et al., 2019). These situations are reason to examine the living conditions for young parents care leavers, and, in particular, the circumstances for young women who may see motherhood as a way of “taking a place” in society, at risk of being “isolated” in this maternal role. What are the risks of being drawn into paths leading to social invisibility (ONPES, 2016) through fear of copying the family dynamic of poverty? How can social services approache these young parents care leavers? 

It would be very interesting to see articles that make it possible to better understand the processes that prevent or encourage rising social mobility through the protection of the children concerned. With regard to this point, it is a matter of taking into account new forms of poverty that can affect young people who were taken into care early on (Dietrich, Frechon, 2022). Particular attention on certain categories of young people in care could also be the subject of a paper. For example, unaccompanied minors whose social and professional integration is conditional on the regularisation of their administrative status in France when they turn 18; young people placed in hotels, young people with disabilities or mental health conditions and cannot immediately respond to the requirements of contractualised assistance.

Of the various facets of the subject that are worthy of exploration, the risk of perpetuating inequalities appears to be linked to the education of children in care.  In 2021, 81% of poor people in France had not achieved the baccalaureate and almost a third had no qualifications (Observatoire des inégalités, 2021). Two thirds of young people in care leave without the baccalaureate and a third have no qualifications. Slightly over a quarter still continue their education after being put into care (ELAP, wave 2, 2015). It has been established that the qualifications achieved, regardless of social backgrounds, are an essential resource for being “armed” for adult life and “finding a place” in society, especially for those who are most social disadvantaged (Poullaouec, 2010). However, repeated underperformance at school during childhood, a distant relationship with school maintained by child welfare services professionals (Denecheau, 2015), the risks of stigmatisation for children in care and even a short and professional-focused academic career create a greater risk of perpetuating poverty. The current call for papers therefore covers research conducted in France and abroad to identify risk and protection factors (ONPE, 2022) that are inherent in the academic careers of children in care and in understanding the specific difficulties that are likely to be faced by children in poverty.

To conclude, the different areas of focus proposed in the context of this call for papers aim to better understand the links between poverty and child protection in the context of a multidisciplinary approach and in a multifaceted reflection showing both the wealth and complexity of these study topics.


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Ganne C., Dietrich-Ragon P., Frechon I., (2019), « Devenir parent en sortant de l’Aide sociale à l’enfance. L’enchaînement des étapes du passage à l’âge adulte », Revue française des affaires sociales, n° 4, p. 147-168

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HCFEA (2018), « Note 1.4 – Grande pauvreté et recours aux associations », in Rapport du Conseil de la famille. Lutter contre la pauvreté des familles et des enfants, [en ligne]

INSEE (2021), « Fiche 1.20- Niveau de vie et pauvreté des enfants », Revenus et patrimoine des ménages – Insee Références – Édition 2021, p. 148-149.

INSEE Nord-Pas-de-Calais (2013), Étude sur les parcours des bénéficiaires de l’Aide sociale à l’enfance dans le Pas-de-Calais, Rapport d’étude, document finalisé en octobre 2013.

INSEE Première (2017), « Un premier enfant à 28,5 ans en 2015 : 4,5 ans plus tard qu’en 1974 », n° 1242, mars 2017.

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Box 1: Defining child poverty in France

Poverty is a multidimensional concept that is defined by either insufficient income or various forms of deprivation. In France, two indicators are used to measure the poverty of households and therefore, that of children in these households.

Child poverty in terms of money is measured by referring to the standard of living for the households to which they belong. It is generally calculated at 60% of the median for standard of living. It takes into account social and fiscal transfers, measures that decreased the child poverty rate by 12 points in 2018 (DREES, 2021). This indicator takes into account all earned and replacement income, maintenance allowances, wealth income, direct taxes, non-contributory social benefits and the composition of the household according to an equivalence scale weighing different members.

Material deprivation is an indicator that provides information on the shortage of goods and services declared by households. Although there were different European indicators up to 2020, these are now aligned with a common definition that narrows a list of 27 types of deprivation to 13 types. Material and social deprivation indicates a situation of long-term economic difficulty that is defined as the inability to cover costs in the following list: on an individual scale (not being able: to purchase new clothes for financial reasons; to meet friends or family for a drink or a meal at least once a month for financial reasons; to spend a small amount on yourself without consulting others in the household; to have regular leisure activities due to a lack of financial means; to have two pairs of shoes for financial reasons; to have internet access for private use due to a lack of financial means) and on a household level (having arrears in credit card payments, loans, mortgages and water/gas/electricity/phone bills; being unable to replace damaged furniture for financial reasons; or not being able: to deal with unplanned spending of around €1,000; to maintain a decent temperature at home for financial reasons; to pay for a week-long holiday away from the home in the year; to eat meat, chicken or fish or the vegetarian equivalent every two days for financial reasons; to pay for a personal car). A person is typically said to be in a situation of social and material deprivation when they can relate to at least 5 material deprivations or difficulties from the 13 in the list. When they relate to at least 7, this is referred to as extreme material or social deprivation.

Although the conditions of unstable housing have negative impacts on child development, in particular academic development, this new material poverty indicator evidently puts less emphasis on unstable housing than the preceding indicator. In this way, can the indicator for overcrowding in housing be used to better understand unstable living conditions for children?

Lastly, we refer to a situation of extreme poverty either when a person living in ordinary housing is both in monetary poverty with a threshold of 50% and in extreme material and social deprivation or when a person does not have a home of their own (INSEE, 2021).

Therefore, there are different ways of understanding poverty in scientific terms in order to highlight the living conditions of children and families and their experiences. As such, the call for papers presented here does not aim to give a single definition of poverty, but will be considerate of the layers of approaches taken. In addition, an article discussing these various indicators with regard to the needs of the child in care would be welcome. 

To learn more:

DREES (2021), « Fiche3. Les effets des transferts sociaux et fiscaux sur la réduction de la pauvreté monétaire », in Minima sociaux et prestations sociales, p. 41-50, [online].

ONPES (2017), « Enfants pauvres, enfants démunis : quels indicateurs ? », Les cahiers de l’ONPES, November.

INSEE (2021), « Dossiers – Environ 2 millions de personnes en situation de grande pauvreté en France en 2018 », Insee Références Edition 2021, p. 55-75.

Legleye S., Pla A., Gleizes F. (2021), « Une personne sur cinq est en situation de pauvreté monétaire ou de privation matérielle et sociale », INSEE Focus, n° 245.

Box 2: Protecting children in danger in France

Child protection is now defined by article L112-3 of the CASF as aiming “to guarantee the taking into account of the child’s fundamental needs, to support physical, emotional, intellectual and social development and to protect their health, safety, morality and education, with respect for their rights. It includes prevention actions in favour of the child and their parents, organising the identification and handling of situations that are dangerous or at risk of being dangerous for the child, as well as administrative and judicial decisions taken for their protection […]”.

This definition, which is repeated by articles 375 et seq. of the French Civil Code and L221-1 of the French Family and Social Action Code, forms the basis of public intervention on the criteria of “danger” or “risk of danger”. In addition, it makes it possible to reiterate that child protection is based on a dual institutional system that is made up of, on the one hand, administrative measures decided by the departmental services of child welfare services (ASE) with the agreement of the person who has parental authority and judicial measures, arranged by the children’s court judge, who is thus held to ensure that the family adheres to the given measure. 

The CASF reiterates that the interventions implemented concern minors (who must be associated with the decisions that concern them depending on their degree of maturity), but are also aimed at adults under 21 years old who are facing difficulties that are likely to severely compromise their stability (art. L112-3 para. 3 and 4 of the CASF). Therefore, child protection concerns young people aged 0 to 18 years old and can continue up to 21 years old as support for young adults. This latter support is now primarily implemented by departmental services and its eligibility requirements have been recently modified by the law of 7 February 2022.

The policy of child protection is a competence that is largely decentralised. Although the vast majority of decisions are of a legal nature, their execution is ensured by the departmental services with departmental inequalities that have a tendency to intensify [*]. The situation is now dispersed also with regard to the judiciary nature of the measures (between 62% and 85% of legal measures according to the departments); the methods of fostering (foster families represent between 20% and 88% of all placements) and the broadening of measures to help young adults (18-20-year-olds represent between 4% and 35% of all children in care) [**].

At the end of 2020, 308,000 minors in France (excluding Mayotte) received at least one Child protection measure , equal to 2.14% of all minors living in France. Of these minors, half are separated from their family and are primarily “placed” in residencial care or foster families. In addition, 32,160 young adults, equal to 1.32% of young people aged 18 to 21 years old [***], are also included in a child welfare services measure. Nevertheless, it should be noted that these figures represent the specific circumstances of the 2020 pandemic, during which a decree allowed young adults to continue their care pathway systematically. An increase of 30% in the number of young people should therefore be noted when compared to the previous year.

* ONPE (2022), La population des enfants suivis en protection de l’enfance au 31/12/2019, GIP enfance en danger.

** Calculations carried out using data on ASE recipients as of 31/12/2020, DREES.

*** ONPE (2022), Seizième rapport au Gouvernement et au Parlement, GIP Enfance en danger.

For further information on the content of this call for papers, please contact the coordinators at the following addresses:

Authors wishing to submit an article on this topic to the journal should send no later than Tuesday, 10 January 2023,

to this address,

a proposal of one or two pages indicating:

The paper’s area of focus

The issue

A presentation of the field


Outline of the article

A short biographic note

Final articles must be submitted before Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Please follow the recommendations online (

The multidisciplinary nature of the journal and its requirement that articles be accessible to non-expert readers must be taken into account.

[1] 16.8% for those under 16 years old vs 12.8% for the entire population in 2014.

[2] ECHR, 26 February 2002, Case of Kutzner v. Germany, Application no. 46544/99, § 69.

[3] Decree of 28 October 2016 on the assessment of minors following information that is cause for concern (art. D226-2-3 of the CASF).

[4] As shown, for example, by the aforementioned +30% increase in young people supported by child welfare services (ASE) between 2019 and 2020.

[5] Art. L223-1-1 of the CASF.

[6] Art. L222-5 and R223-5 of the CASF.

[7] The CJM is not defined by texts, but refers to the support for young adults governed by art. L222-5 5° of the CASF.

[8] Decree no. 2016-1375 of 12 October 2016 on the constitution, allocation and payment, based on the back-to-school allowance, of the savings fund mentioned in article L543-3 of the French Social Security Code.

[9] Livre Vert (2009), Reconnaître la valeur de la jeunesse, commission de concertation sur la politique de la jeunesse, report by the French High Commission for Youth to the Prime Minister.

[10] IGAS (2015), Évaluation de la 2e mise en œuvre du Plan pluriannuel contre la pauvreté et pour l’inclusion sociale, report 2014 049R.

[11] DULIN A. (2018), « Prévenir les ruptures dans les parcours en protection de l’enfance », opinion of CESE,. 

[12] Fondation Abbé-Pierre, L’État du Mal-logement en 2019, annual report 24th edition.

[13] Art. L. 543-3 of the French Social Security Code (Code de la sécurité sociale).

[14] This topic has been the subject of renewed political attention in recent months as part of the national strategy to combat poverty, firstly, then the legislative plan with the vote on new provisions to the law of 7 February 2022. This law intends to strengthen support for young adults and also mentions the systematic proposal of a youth commitment contract (contrat d’engagement jeunes, formerly Garantie Jeunes).