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Although the emphasis in current thinking about work with street children has changed from aid-dependency towards youth protagonism, many organisations ignore the role of the children’s families in their interventions. In so doing, they reproduce obsolete welfare traditions and also violate rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and national legislation. This article illustrates the importance of child-family ties for both children and families, and argues that interventions that lack the involvement of parents and families serve to reproduce images of failed families and inadequate mothers. The author presents an alternative approach from Brazil which respects the rights and needs of children and families through family empowerment.

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