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Child Protection Dinosaurs ~ Communities, Families & Children Journal Vol 2 No. 1

Child Protection Dinosaurs ~ Communities, Families & Children Journal Vol 2 No. 1

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Published by: adamfblakester on Dec 23, 2011
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05/19/2012

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1
W
e are very pleased to bring you the secondedition of
Communities, Children and Families Australia.
When Professor Dorothy Sco launchedthe journal in July 2006 she did so ‘hopeful’ thatit would be able to carry out its aims and that itwould endure. The editorial commiee recentlyreflected on our hopes that the journal may bea useful forum for challenging the orthodoxy ofcurrent ways of thinking in child protection. To dothis we felt it is essential that it crosses the differentarenas in which we work: practice, policy, research,education and management, as well as the differentdisciplines and sectors which all contribute to thewellbeing and safety of children and young people.Challenging the conventional gaps between primary,secondary and tertiary interventions (currentlyembedded in Commonwealth and States/Territoriesresponsibilities and funding arrangements), the journal will feature articles which recognise thestrong interface needed between early intervention,targeted approaches and statutory child protection.Some of these themes are reflected in this edition. Twoarticles (Connelly & Doolan; Bromfield & Ryan) arethe collaborations of practitioners and researchers.Three (Connelly & Doolan; Wyles; Richmond) reflecton the implications of specific child death reviews;articles (McHugh; Harries, Lonne & Thomson;Blakester) challenge conventional orthodoxies suchas ethics in child protection, the cost of fostering,and the frames through which we view child abuseand neglect; two writers, (Daro; Richmond), bothwith extensive experience working across the earlyintervention and statutory child protection spectrum,explore the potential of particular early interventionstrategies to prevent harm to children.One of the positive spin offs from aending variousconferences last year, including the XVIth ISPCANInternational Congress on Child Abuse and Neglectin York was that four high profile international figuresaccepted invitations to our editorial board. They are:Professor Ken Barter, Memorial University, Canada;Deborah Daro, Research Fellow, Chapin Hall at theUniversity of Chicago; Nigel Parton, Professor inChild Care and Director of the Centre for AppliedChildhood Studies, University of Huddersfield andPamela Tevithick who holds the field chair in socialwork at the University of Bristol.At our invitation, Deborah Daro provides an indepth analysis of research on early home visitationprograms which she places within the broadercontext of early intervention systems generally. InDeborah’s view the prenatal care and wellbeingvisits provided universally as part of primary healthcare throughout Australia provides a ‘promisingplatform on which to build a network of moreintensive early intervention efforts. Althoughacknowledging that home visitation is not a ‘singularsolution’ for preventing child abuse, Deborah claimsthat the empirical evidence generated so far doessupport the growing capacity of quality programsto achieve their aims. Deborah’s conclusions aboutthe importance of solid internal consistency withinprograms that link specific program elements tospecific outcomes is of great significance in the broader Australian human services context with theoutsourcing of many services and the challenge toidentify meaningful performance measures whichdrive rather than impede good practice.The “promising platform” of maternal and child
Editorial 
EDITORIAL
 
2
Communities, Families and Children Australia, Volume 2, Number 1, April 2006
3
to analyse their aention to the role professionalsupervision can play in improving outcomes. Hefinds that they offer lile direction, telling us ‘whatwe already know and understand’. There is lilefocus on the central role professional supervisioncan play in building beer child protection systemsin this country. Instead supervision referred toin reviews tends to be narrowly defined as linesupervision and is “almost solely about performancemanagement and monitoring”. Paul argues fromexperience that “administrative supervision does notcapture the inherent complexities of work in humanservice organisations”. The danger, he claims, withinevitable future reviews is that supervision willincreasingly be seen as a tool for compliance ratherthan for fulfilling broader purposes such as assistingstaff to think through the ethical considerationsoutlined in the previous article. Paul concludes withsome recommendations about a range of strategiesthat “sit comfortably between managerial andprofessional paradigms”.The importance of targeted recruitment, timelyinduction, entry level training and ongoing supportand supervision for child protection practitionersis reiterated in the article by Leah Bromfield andRobert Ryan. Reflecting the academic and practicepartnerships that the journal seeks to encourage,Leah, from the National Child ProtectionClearinghouse, and Robert, from the QueenslandDepartment of Child Safety, collaborate to providea national comparison of child protection trainingin Australian. The findings from this snapshot(October 2005–March 2006), undertaken to enhancethe goals of the Australasian Statutory ChildProtection Learning and Development Group, areuseful for policy makers, trainers, practitioners andresearchers. In particular the paper increases theawareness of the knowledge and skills expected ofstatutory child protection workers. Of significance,only half of the jurisdictions had formal assessmentprocesses in place to determine whether trainees hadacquired requisite skills and only two jurisdictionsformally evaluated their training programs. Theauthors identify assessment and evaluation aspriority areas for future research.In her paper about the costs of fosteringMarilyn McHugh asks the question “Is it timefor consideration of a carer payment?” Marilynprovides a detailed analysis of reasons for a crisisin foster care in Australia including the social andeconomic factors contributing to a reduction of theavailability of women as volunteers, the increasingcomplexity of children’s behaviour in care andgrowing expectations on carers to perform additionaltasks. Interviews with thirty foster carers indicatedthat carers incur psychological and emotional coststhrough the maintenance of a complex range ofrelationships; opportunity costs through loss ofemployment and superannuation; and time costsinvolved in the additional fostering tasks over andabove normal non foster care specific activities.The paper examines international developments,particularly in the UK, France and Sweden, whichpoint to financial support for carers far in advanceof what is provided in Australian child welfaresystems. The differences range from tax relief,payments for child expenses plus wages which areguaranteed for temporary absences of children andfor three months a�er children ceased being placedwith the carer. In Sweden, if a carer is required tostay at home due to the child’s special needs, thewage component is doubled as compensation forlost employment income.Finally, we are pleased to publish Adam Blakester,the National Executive Officer of
NAPCAN 
,’sreflective piece on
NAPCAN’s
shi� to a “community-wide” and “community responsibility” focus. Adamclaims that the phrase “prevent child abuse andneglect” conjures up in the public mind a need forprofessional intervention rather than communityresponsibility. He explains in depth the reasonswhy the “new” NAPCAN will reframe its work toencourage sustainable, child friendly communitiesthat provide and support children’s wellbeing.Adam’s background in commerce and law leadshim to explore the economic costs of child abuse andneglect, which, he points out, at an estimated $5billionin 2003 was more than Australia’s annual incomefrom meat exports. Drawing on the parallel betweenthe massive human and financial investment neededto combat the long term impacts of climate changeand the approach to child abuse and neglect, whereonly one third of one percent of current expenditureis invested in prevention, Adam provides staggering
Editorial 
health services in Australia referred to by Daro isexplored further in Giovanna Richmond’s articleon ‘policy partnerships’ between health and childprotection systems. Despite the extensive range ofprimary and targeted health services which reach avery large proportion of the population, especiallyin the first three years, Giovanna presents the viewthat the health sector’s response to child abuseand neglect at the primary and secondary levels ofprevention needs to be broader in scope and directed by specific cross sectoral policy. The unintendedconsequence of mandatory reporting, she claims,is an abrogation of responsibility on the part ofhealth workers to statutory workers and isolationfor many health professionals who find themselves“navigating” the child protection system instead of being an integral part of it. A “policy partnership”forged between health and child protection resultedin the development of a comprehensive trainingstrategy for all health professionals (developed byhealth professionals), creation of inter sectoral liaisonpositions, and enhanced interdisciplinary integrationsuch as the introduction of nursing positions intokey tertiary institutions. Finally Giovanna providesa conceptual framework for improving integrationwhich includes three key elements: explicit crosssectoral policy; the identification of benefits and barriers; and the effective management of boundaries between health and child protection domainsthrough dedicated leadership.In past decades child death and other high profileinquiries and the media responses to them, haveplayed a paramount role in changes to child welfarepractice which has been dominated by conservative,risk averse procedures. As Marie Connolly and MikeDoolan argue, reviewing child deaths can create aculture of blame and precipitate reactive responsesthat do lile to promote practice improvements.Marie Connolly, Chief Social Worker within the NewZealand Government and Mike Doolan, AdjunctSenior Fellow at the University of Canterburydiscuss the practice issues raised by an in depthanalysis of nine homicides of children known tostatutory child protection services in New Zealandover a four year period. They argue there is a harshreality that not all violence towards children can bepredicted, nor does this mean that all families whostruggle to care for their children should be treated“as potential child killers”. Instead fine practice judgements which balance short and long term risksto children including the risks involved in placingchildren in the care system, must be made at everypoint. Marie and Mike’s article also reminds us howimportant this kind of analysis is because it can helpin times of high political and media pressure toexplain the complexity of decision making in childprotection. If child protection environments allowin depth reviews of such cases, important practiceinsights and improved procedures can result.Some of the issues raised by Marie and Mikereflect the difficult ethical dilemmas facing childprotection workers every moment of every day.The paper by Maria Harries, (University of WesternAustralia), Bob Lonne (University of Queensland)and Jane Thomson, (James Cook University), isa fascinating and timely discussion of the ethicalfoundations of Child Welfare. Arguing that much ofcontemporary practice is fundamentally flawed by its“preoccupation with managing immediate risks andrisk avoidance” (justified by the ‘highly seductive”rhetoric of the ‘best interests’ principle) they claimthat decisions o�en fail to take into account longterm impacts on the wellbeing of children “and theirlocation within families and communities”. Thisaention to short term risk also overlooks the widercontext of structural disadvantage affecting mostfamilies involved with the child protection system.The authors put forward a theoretical frameworkcomprising three conceptual elements whichthey argue form the crux of good ethical decisionmaking. These are: competing ethical principles;power; and complex stakeholder relationships. Thisrich discussion argues for a greater understandingof the context of power relations in Child Protection.It also challenges people working in the systemto develop a strong value base in which “a dutyto protect children is balanced with the principleof respect for all people involved and where theprinciple of justice is permied to find a place backat the decision making table”.Continuing with themes emerging from child deathand other inquiries Paul Wyles, a Director in the ACTOffice of Child, Youth and Family Support, exploresthree recent Australian child protection reviews
 
4
Communities, Families and Children Australia, Volume 2, Number 1, April 2006
5
 ARTICLE
Perspectives on Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs: Improving Qualityand Enhancing Outcomes
Deborah Daro PhD
Research article 1
ABSTRACT
The rapid expansion of home visitation services over the past two decadeshas sparked lively debate over the method’s efficacy and structuralintegrity in both the United States and Australia. Many reviewers find thecurrent evidence base sufficient to justify continued program expansionwhile others find the evidentiary base inconclusive, particularly in the areaof preventing child abuse. Evaluators and reviewers that note limited ordisappointing impacts o�en call for greater aention to issues of programquality and more modest expectations as to what can be accomplishedthrough any single intervention. The purpose of this article is to placethese concerns within the broader context of cra�ing early interventionsystems, to identify the improvements in model clarity and outcomes being documented within the expanding body of empirical research, andto outline the key questions facing policy makers and program managersseeking to build a more comprehensive and relevant pool of empiricalfindings to guide practice.
OVERVIEW
Early intervention efforts to promote healthy child development have long been a central feature of social service and public health reforms. Central tothis strategy has been an explicit recognition of the importance of the firstthree years of life in shaping cognitive and socio-emotional development.In Australia, pre-natal care, well-baby visits and assessments to detectpossible developmental delays are provided on a universal basis through apublicly supported system of nurse visits and centre-based primary healthcare (Sco, 2006). Although the accessibility and quality in these servicesvaries among the states, this system provides a promising platform onwhich to build a network of more intensive early interventions efforts.In the United States, efforts to provide support for new borns and theirparents has developed without the benefit of a publicly funded health caresystem or the type of universal health home visiting found in Australia andmany other western democracies. Although a plethora of options existsfor providing assistance to parents around the time their child is born,
Deborah DaroResearch Fellow (AssociateProfessor)Chapin Hall Centre for ChildrenUniversity of Chicago1313 E. 60th StreetChicago, IL 60637 USA Phone: +1 773-256-5127Fax: +1 773-753-5940E-mail: ddaro@uchicago.edu
evidence of the lack of a national approach to thelaer. He contrasts the 1.2 billion dollars spent bystate governments on the tertiary response to childabuse and neglect in 2004-2005 with the Australiangovernment’s contribution of 4.2 million dollars toprevention, one three hundredth of this amount, inthe same period.We hope this edition is of interest to readers.Once again we thank those who have workedhard to produce it. Our special thanks go to thegrowing College for Child and Family ProtectionPractitioners for their very generous support andencouragement.Gail WinkworthEditor

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