Objective: Child participation is internationally seen as a crucial aspect of child protection and child welfare. Scholars have differences of opinion about what participation entails, but even less is known about whether children and case managers have similar perspectives on participation and its goals. Methods: An exploratory study was conducted, including 16 interviews with case managers and 16 interviews with young people in the Amsterdam area, the Netherlands. Results: There is a large gap between case managers' perspectives on participation and its prevalence in practice and the experiences and perspectives of young people under the care of child protection and welfare services. Case managers see participation as important, but it is generally seen as an instrument to ensure the child's cooperation. Young people, on the other hand, understand participation differently. They primarily want to be heard, informed and taken seriously. Conclusions and implications for practice: The level of participation that occurs and the different perspectives of young people and case managers show that there is currently no meaningful dialogue between the case manager and the young person. The knowledge and the experience of young people are not taken seriously, given the proper value or acted upon in the process of youth care. Although social scientists have shown that children are knowledgeable social actors, the practice of child protection is falling behind. Interventions to decrease barriers to participation should therefore focus on the case managers' perspectives of children and childhood, encouraging them to not only see but also approach children as knowledgeable social actors.