Working with families: Three practice-based approaches for child protection

Child protection systems
Friday 27 July, 1010 – 1030


Jack Davenport
Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania

In bridging the gap between a child’s “needs” and the “wants” of the family, statutory child protection faces a challenge of communication and engagement with families. These relationships can lead to misunderstandings, antagonism, and prevention of interventions such as family support and reunification of children with their parents. As the numbers of children in care rise to ever-alarming numbers, the positive implications of establishing common ground become more apparent. In practice, the goals of all parties are usually the same, and mutually inclusive.
The presentation will focus on three practice-informed key approaches for child protection in working with families including Using Emotional Awareness, Relationship Building, and Collaboration.

This presentation will do this by exploring the communication approaches commonly present when child protection agencies get involved with a family; discussing misconceptions about the role of factual details, and how establishing an honest, accessible, emotional connection with families can deliver better outcomes; examining the organisational elements that influence child protection practice; and what senior leaders can do to build a working environment conducive to engaging families.

This is not just about bridging a gap between statutory services and families; it is about recognising that often the bridge already exists, and what matters is how all parties can negotiate it together to improve children’s lives.