Conversations - effective communication through practicing ‘collaborative conversations’

  • How staff apply skilful approaches to engaging with; motivating and having difficult conversations with people.
  • Increasing children and family’s ownership of the changes(s) required.

Child protection practice often brings social workers and other staff into conflict with families.  Legislation places a duty of investigation and if necessary intervention on Local Authorities.  When the concerns about significant harm relate to parental capacity the state is often in a role of interfering in the private lives of families.  This does not always create the best environment for establishing the positive working relationship necessary to support families.  Collaborative conversations and similar approaches (e.g. motivational interviewing) acknowledge this dilemma and provide a framework for undertaking better conversations with individuals and families.  Collaborative conversations start by identifying strengths and what matters most to families.  The approach is careful to avoid focussing on deficits or criticising.  It aims to avoid families losing their sense of control and becoming defensive.  Applying this in child protection is a particular challenge due to the duties on Local Authorities and that statutory thresholds are assessed from a deficit perspective.  

The skills of ‘Collaborative conversations’ 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.

Collaborative conversations is an approach endorsed and supported by Social Care Wales, who have provided:

  • Collaborative conversations training for staff
  • Mentoring training
  • National Mentoring Network
  • Online resources

This is supported in practice through supervision and peer support.  The Effective Child Protection project provides individual and group mentoring support.