Overall, children residing in families suspected or confirmed as being physically, sexually, emotionally abused or neglected were tracked through the targeted network.
The results provided evidence of the effect of a variety of in situ effects not traditionally identified in models of the decision making process and highlighted the important role played by non-statutory professionals in the management of actual or suspected cases of child maltreatment. The decisions made by these workers determined the subsequent involvement of statutory services and could either enhance or diminish the likelihood of a positive case outcome. Workers involved in the case tracking were utilising the informal relationships they had developed with other workers in the region to circumvent formal methods of communication and coordination referral protocols and case conferences.
Although this could enhance professional decision making, it was also responsible for the exclusion of some workers from the case management and professional decision making process, poor information exchange, interprofessional disputes and less than optimal case management. The results of the case tracking were subsequently used to develop an Ecological Framework of Decision Making able to encompass current knowledge of the factors that influence professional decision making in the child maltreatment field.
The April Kids First - Agenda for Change Conference was an initiative of Australians Against Child Abuse and drew together health, legal and welfare professionals to collaborate in developing possible solutions to improve current approaches to protecting children and preventing child abuse and neglect. Delegates were asked to complete a questionnaire about the changes required to improve child protection systems and resolutions from delegates throughout the conference were noted. The information from these sources has been collated in this document and forms the basis for the identification of the solutions and problems in Australian child protection systems.
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The problems are discussed and presented in order of priority allocated by delegates. Key recommendations to improve child protection systems across Australia articulated at the conference are presented. This book addresses issues of family work as they confront practitioners working outside formal therapy contexts with marginalised families who are often demoralised by poverty and violence.
While focusing on four approaches: solution focused, narrative, cognitive and community building, its foundation rests not on therapeutic techniques but on core principles of family practice. Numerous family stories are included to illustrate different interventions. Olmstead County Minnesota Community Services operates two Family Group Decision Making projects: Family Partners, for families at low-risk of child abuse and Family Works, a more intensive approach for high-risk families.
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The Family Partners Project is designed as a non-punitive approach to the investigation and assessment of child abuse allegations among low-risk families. Target families have no history of child abuse and are not in immediate danger of losing their children or being arrested. Service components include an ecological family assessment, the identification of family supports, in-home counselling, mediation, and family group decision-making. The Family Works Project is a family-centred program that focuses on empowering families that are at high risk of maltreatment and building their relationship skills.
Components include in-home family based counselling; multi-family group therapy; family conferencing; transition services; and family mentoring. Families are empowered to take control and participate equally in case planning and identifying a vision for their lives. An evaluation of the Family Works program found that child safety increased and risk decreased among participants. The Family Partners program was also successful in reducing the number of child maltreatment reports and improving the quality of assessments. Although family group conferences were not used often, families who participated in conferences were able to develop a realistic plan.
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There is a world wide trend in the child protection field away from aggressive and intrusive practice toward working in partnership with the family suspected of abuse and neglect. This trend has been popularised by policy makers and academics but workers in the field are often left wondering how they should go about building partnerships without increasing the risks to children. This process fosters collaboration between family and worker at the early stages and creates the context for partnership in the subsequent casework.
The approach also assists the statutory agency to clarify its own safety goals and purposefully seeks to maximise the involvement of the family in defining and achieving these. This paper summarises the Signs of Safety model, demonstrates it with several case examples and also reflect on the lessons learned in designing and implementing an approach which aspires to partnership between the statutory agency and the family. A West Australian text describing the application of strengths-based approaches to child prtoection practice.
Families where children have been placed in the care of the State are frequently involuntary participants in programs aimed at achieving the safe return of their children to their care. This article outlines the Mofflyn Reunification program which works with high risk families and moving them from an involuntary position to participating positively in the return home of their children. Emphasis is placed on workers developing a sense of congruency in their work with families, peers and other agencies. Current initiatives in Victoria, Australia, attempt to rebalance the relationship between protective and support services.
New language is generated to describe long held tensions between voluntary and non-voluntary services and differing philosophies of intervention. Interpretation of these international trends has helped consolidate an emerging practice position within Victorian child protection services. This evolving framework includes the protection- welfare-developmental needs of the child; a strengths based partnership approach to families; integration and collaboration with other services; and consistent regard for the professionalism of the child protection workforce.
In the area of child protection, there is often a struggle for a balance between safety of the child with privacy of the family. At even greater odds is the inclusion of some family members and other professionals in child protection investigations, and the exclusion of others. Some family based practice models available in work with statutory child protection cases are problematic when it comes to assessing risk and safety.
This paper aims to describe a current practice model that the author has found to be relevant for statutory family based practice. It focuses on fostering a cooperative relationship between workers and families, particularly where the families perceive a threat to remove the child from the home. Drawing on recent research, this report outlines the risk of polarising family support and child protection work by treating them as alternatives rather than mutually supportive and complementary activities.
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It offers a definition of family support and outlines some practical ways in which local authorities can work towards achieving a balance between family support and child protection. Messages from Research. The overview of the studies recommends that there be a shift in resources and attitudes from an investigative approach family support perspective. The ramifications of this change in approach are examined from the dual perspectives of policy and practice.
The article suggests that while much of the change in emphasis is to be welcomed, the needs of the most severely abused children may be compromised by the new orthodoxy, as it is not based on the reality of the many problems encountered by children and professionals in child protection work. It is argued that a focus on practice issues needs to permeate all such documents. This article examines child protection services and the increasing numbers of reports of suspected child maltreatment, focusing on the adoption by some Australian State and Territory governments of a new model of child protection.
A research program implemented in the United Kingdom by the Department of Health and coordinated by Dartington Social Research Unit, University of Bristol, is described and implications for policy makers to consider shifting the balance between child protection and other services for children in need, are discussed. An Australian pilot in Western Australia is analysed, highlighting family support rather than forensic investigation. There has also been acknowledgment of the need for child protection services to engage family support and other non-government services in meaningful case management partnerships.
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Second, there has been growing recognition that child protection departments, in isolation, cannot adequately protect children and a subsequent re-emphasis on the value of child abuse prevention. A number of innovative child abuse prevention approaches, such as the Inter-Agency School Community Centres Pilot Project, which is currently operating in New South Wales, are highlighted. This article reports on the first phase of one of several research projects commissioned by the Department of Health to study post Children Act policy and practice.
An opportunity was thus missed to differentiate between those families who would be able to meet the needs of children without the provision of services and those in which the health and welfare of the children would be likely to deteriorate without further assessment and help.
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New directions in child protection and family support: interim guidelines, standards and implementation package. This paper describes, analyses and, in part, evaluates New Directions. There is a great deal of evidence that statutory child welfare agencies are being overwhelmed by a large increase in child protection referrals which require formal investigation and that there has been an increasing failure to develop more preventive family support services. In this paper the changes introduced in Western Australia to address this situation are described. Results demonstrate that the changes have led to a restructuring in the way the Department responds to concerns expressed about children, which in turn have impacted on the proportion of substantiated child maltreatment cases and the way responses are prioritised and allocated.
This in turn has provided the Department with a more explicit and clearer focus for its work in a period of increasing demand and rapid change. Journal abstract. The research described in this document investigates the child protective notifications from the City of Brimbank in Victoria, with particular reference to unsubstantiated notifications and those investigated but where no further action was taken and includes a detailed profile of these children and their family circumstances.
The model, The Family Outreach Service, which resulted from this research and aims to divert the children and their families from the statutory child protection system by developing community-based primary and secondary services responses specifically targeted to meet their needs, is discussed.
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The report is divided into the following areas: the context; the research phase of the project, the research findings, findings and relevant models of service; the proposal for the pilot phase of the project; and evaluation of the project. Burnside, in partnership with the NSW Department of Community Services Cumberland and Prospect area has been offering, since , Family Decision Making Conferences to families where plans are needed for the future care and protection of children.
As Tomison notes a , much of this change in practice systems came from the United Kingdom: an Audit Commission report , and a research program implemented by the Department of Health and coordinated by the Dartington Social Research Unit, University of Bristol Messages from Research. In the s policy changes consistent with economic rationalist philosophies led to the introduction of user pays service provision, compulsory competitive tendering and the contracting out of many aspects of health and welfare services , the privatisation of services, and the separation of funding from the provision of services.
As Parton notes:. The move to a family support model in child protection is an attempt to take a holistic approach to preventing maltreatment and protecting children by addressing family problems through promoting cooperation between workers and families. In addition, family problems can be comprehensively assessed and appropriate services put in place to address them Tomison a. The crux of any child protection system would [therefore] appear to be the adequate resourcing of family support services such that families in need can receive appropriate counselling or support in a cooperative venture with welfare professionals.
Without adequate resources, no system can expect to adequately protect children or enhance family welfare Tomison The emphasis in this system is to provide appropriate services to the child and family as early as possible, rather than gathering evidence as a qualifier for services. This system allowed for a differential response to reports of maltreatment. An Investigation response Track provided traditional protective processes. Under the Assessment Track family strengths and service needs were identified and services were offered to the family Virginia Department of Social Services, Adequate resourcing and service provision for children and families.
Such services have an important role to play in preventing the development of maltreatment and cutting both re-notifications and longer-term child protection reports. Child and family participation in decision making — intake and case planning processes including placement decision making.
On a precautionary note, while developing opportunities for participation e. It should be noted that an assesment of the local community needs may also be important. Recognition of the vital role other agencies paly in identification, investigation, assessment, treatment, support and prevention. Most states have re-newed respect for the role of other agencies, are seeking to engage in partnership throughout assessment and the family support phases of cases. A key aspect of this is cross-sectoral partnerships — vital when working with multi-problem families. To make it successful requires the development of formal and informal structures for information sharing and working together, and importantly, effective case coordination see Brief no.
Colclough, Parton and Anslow argue that families need help before they are exposed to the child protection system and that a more holistic view of the needs of vulnerable children and families is needed. As most of the counselling and support services come from non-government agencies, there is a need to be more systematic and coordinated and the role of the community should be far more central to the child protection process, not peripheral, as it is at present.
Early intervention initiatives are also allied with the promotion of health and wellbeing.