Frequently Asked Questions - Child Protection Practices

All work and plans with children should be regularly reviewed.Often the timescale for review is identified within case management procedures or set down by the agency offering the service.Regular reviews are important to ensure that plans remain on track and that the plan continues to meet the needs of the child and adjustments can be made if necessary.

Reviews typically take place very frequently at the start of a plan but then may be still be regular, but less often, as work proceeds.Reviews should give everyone – including children themselves – the opportunity to discuss openly how the plan is being implemented / work proceeding.Ideally the review should be chaired by someone who is not involved in the day to day work with the family, so there is some impartiality.

Working from a rights based perspective is a conceptual shift from the ‘welfare’ perspective, where service s and help are seen as being something that is dispensed according to the good will of the service provider (and in some case the perceived ‘deserving’ of the client and expected gratitude) to a position which recognises that children (and their families) have rights which are guaranteed by law and which they are entitled too.

Children and families are not seen as beneficiates but as rights holders and service providers are seen as ‘duty bearers’ (that is having a responsibility).  Working from a rights based perspective requires that children and families are not seen as passive receivers of services and support but are proactively engaged in what support is provided and how.  It requires service providers, as duty bearers, to be more consultative with their clients and also to be accountable for their work.

Many organisations and governments are introducing case management as a way of working.Case management is a process or set of procedures which identifies how cases should be handled, who should be involved and timeframes, so that all cases are dealt with in a systematic way.This helps ensure that support is given in a timely way and also that there is consistency in the management of cases. Case management mechanisms typically also define how referrals should be made to other organisations and how agencies should work together.

Irrespective of how the case management process is described and divided, there are three main parts of any case management system:Assessment (and Planning), Intervention and Follow up and review.Unless these three processes are included then it is not a comprehensive case management system.

It should be understood that case management itself is not an intervention or a programme – it is a way of organising and approaching work, not in itself a service that is provided to families.

Not necessarily.It could mean that we have closed the case too soon, but it could also mean that the family has come back with a new problem.This could also be a sign that the family trusts the service.

However for some families rather than it being a series of different issues it is more like a ‘revolving door’ with the same issues repeating.This can signal that rather than dealing with the underlying causes it was only the symptoms that were being managed.This would suggest that the intervention was not effective and other ways of helping the family need to be identified.

As its name suggests, a service led assessment is one in which the help for the child is framed around what services exists.  A needs led assessment by contrast looks at the situation for the child and what they require.  For example ‘going to school’ is service led, whereas ‘education’ is needs led.

Framing assessments, and the case / care plans which are created as a result, by considering children’s needs are more useful , particularly in situations where there are reduced resources, as this help ensure that the plans are based on what is in the child’s best interests and also can encourage creativity in finding solutions for children.  To take the earlier of education – there are many different ways that children can be educated, one of which is by going to school but there may be other options such as a tutor or learning club or a training scheme which might be more appropriate.

This is a difficult question, and one that many workers struggle with. In fact, it is difficult to avoid re-victimisation unless a careful evaluation takes place of the causes and push factors that lead to victimisation in the first place. For example, if one of the drivers was poverty, leading to the commercial sexual exploitation of the child then unless the situation changes or the child and their families are helped to develop skills for alternative income generation and employment t it is likely that the child will be re-vicitmised. This underscores the need for the assessment to thoroughly explore the causes for the abuse, and not just treat the symptoms of it. 

No!  Of course specialist services are important, especially if we want to help children heal from abuse or where the child has particular behavioural and cognitive problems as a result of their abuse which interfere with their life (for example post-traumatic stress disorder).  However even when specialist services are not available there are still things that can be done to help the child.

Creating a safe environment, treating children with respect, allowing them to gain control over their lives and bodies are also important in terms of helping children heal – both in terms of learning new ways of relating to others and the way they might think about themselves.

There are also other things that can be done, such as ensuring that children are able to access appropriate education, have their basis needs met and develop appropriate support networks which can promote children’s resilience and coping.  This in turn can help with the recovery process.

Frequently there is no ‘perfect’ outcome in child protection work, however much we might want one.  Sometimes it is no so much as case of ‘best situation’ but the least worse.  However we might be able to regard the situation as successful where we have been able to reduce the level of risk to a child to an acceptable level and have been able to equip the child with the necessary resources to be able to cope and adjust to the changing circumstances of their lives.  This would include ensuring that their rights are respected so that they are able to achieve their full potential (eg right to education etc).

Children have a right to privacy – and in addition there may well be domestic laws that govern what and how information can be shared.  Therefore, we need to be careful when sharing information with others.  This applies not only in our work with other agencies but also in relation to information we share within our own organisations.  Particularly when working in contexts where people are well known (so in small communities or where people belong to a particular cultural group) confidentiality can be easily broken without thinking. 

Information should be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis: that means sharing those details with others who have a specific role in supporting the family.  For example, a foster carer will need to know more information about a child’s family background in order that they can support the child in a home setting than a teacher is likely to need.

In general it is always best to seek permission of children and families to share their information with others.  We should explain why it is important to share information and how the information will be used, in order that they can make informed decisions about consenting to sharing information.  However it is important to remember that even when families do not consent to sharing information we can still do this in cases where our objective is to protect the child (but we must be careful how much we share!).  The best interests of the child is a clear principle, and an exclusion to data protection laws domestically can be for the purposes of preventing a crime (which may include abuse).

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