Informations and abstract
Keywords: Voluntary Guardians; Discretion; Social Work; Unaccompanied Minors; Law No. 47/2017.
The article analyzes the impact of the voluntary guardian figure, introduced by Law no. 47/2017, as a new street-level bureaucrat implementing the reception of unaccompanied minors by making an initial foray into the analysis of how the voluntary guardian-social worker pairing (the latter being the minor’s contact person) implements discretion. Moreover, the article also examines the differing theoretical outlooks that have evolved the concept of discretion over time, applied comparatively to these two actors. By means of a 15-month research project mainly focused on a large city in Italy, the research combined different strategies to collect data revealing how the role of voluntary guardian plays out on three main levels: legal representation, personal assistance and networking. These three areas are characterized by different levels of discretion and diverse variables prevail in each, thereby affecting the practices of actors. Accordingly, for each function the research found three collaborative practices between this new figure and social work professionals: substitution, overlap and cooperation. The research also presents the viewpoint of minors regarding the innovations introduced in their lives by the figure of a voluntary guardian before outlining further lines of inquiry in relation to this issue.