- That staff focus on specific areas of change to keep children safe.
- Improved engagement with families and other agencies in Core Groups and Conferences.
Child protection is about identifying the potential harm to children and to understand what causes this. Child protection services focus on intervening to modify or change the things that present a risk to children. Sometimes this is about the behaviour of a parent or parents; the young person themselves, or some external factors. Change is therefore at the heart of child protection.
“How do you know if your child protection practice is effective?” Our analysis of this question led to our conclusion that child protection is only effective when it is clear that change is taking place in those areas of concern, linked to the likelihood of significant harm. It is not about compliance with processes or timescales. Child protection practice is outlined in detailed procedures, clear processes and recording formats. However, this framework does not focus on change.
The Effective Child Protection project was initiated when we recognised that change needed to be more prominent within child protection processes. What needed to change should be more clearly identified in assessments and these areas of change needed to be the focus of our child protection interventions. Firstly, to clarify the key areas of change, linked to likelihood of significant harm. Secondly, to clarify what evidence would indicate that care was ‘now, good enough.’
The Effective Child Protection project structures the identification of areas of change in assessments and within Initial Child Protection Case Conferences. The focus on change is monitored through Core Groups and in the Review Child Protection Conference. Recording templates have been modified and specific tools created to assist in the focus on change. Effective Child Protection encourages a focus on the key changes. Often three areas of change are sufficient for a child protection plan. More areas make it very difficult to maintain sufficient focus and achieve progress. For each area of change, evidence that indicate that care ‘is not good enough’ is recorded. For each area of change, the behaviour that would indicate when care was ‘good enough’ is clarified. This outlines the basis for the child protection plan.
The skills of identifying change and using the new recording formats are developed through training workshops for staff and mentoring support. Mentoring is provided within the Local Authority by managers, practice mentors and through facilitated support groups.
Effective Child Protection is an approach that has been developed and adopted by Gwynedd Council. It is a pioneer project for North Wales to develop innovative practice to transform the way we deliver services. The project will develop and trial new approaches. If it is perceived to be of value to other Authorities, it has been designed to be implemented elsewhere.
Training is provided through a locally developed programme and includes:
- Effective Child Protection workshop
- Practice guidance and support material.
This is supported in practice through supervision, peer support and the role of the Child Protection Co-ordinator within Case Conferences. The Effective Child Protection project provides individual and group mentoring support.