Effective Child Protection is a project designed to change the way agencies work with families where there are concerns about child abuse.

It aims to have different conversations with families about keeping children safe.  So often these are conversations of conflict with families, generating resistance to the very change necessary to keep children safe.  The project will develop the capacity of staff to have different conversations with families.  Beyond capacity, deepening a worker’s awareness and reflection about these conversations through mentoring.

It aims to:

  • Clarify the changes that are necessary to reduce the harm.
  • Once focussed on these changes, maintain focus throughout the child protection process.
  • Establish with families; in their own words, the changes they want to achieve.
  • Measure steps with the family of their progress towards these outcomes.

Finally, to continue to pursue high quality and consistent assessment of likelihood of significant harm.  This ensures that services have a legal basis for intervening in the private life of families.

Our analysis of case work indicated that what needed to change in order for safeguarding outcomes to be achieved, was not always clear.  Often, lost in the noise of case work and the proliferation of tasks, services and actions.  It was not always clear in Conferences the important areas of change that needed attention.  It was not always easy to find consensus between agencies about their role in the Child Protection Plan and the tasks that needed attention.  Families reported confusion about the expectations of them and were consequently less engaged in the child protection plan.

Some modifications were introduced to some Case Conferences.  Clarity about changes and the outcomes we were hoping to see were discussed between agencies.  Over time these approaches mature.  This was later developed into the ‘Effective Child Protection’ training programme for staff.  One of the key benefits are for Core Groups that are tasked to focus on very specific areas of change.

Staff from all agencies should notice that Case Conferences become increasingly focussed on identifying the changes necessary to keep a child safe from harm.

Social workers will be asked to think about changes in their reports to Conference.  Agencies should notice these areas in reports.  Where there is Registration, the Conference chair should focus all agencies on the changes necessary.  For each change, the evidence why care is not considered ‘good enough’ will be discussed.  For each change, the Conference will work together to specify the behaviours it would want to see that would keep the child safe.  The changes if maintained will be the safeguarding outcomes (change) at the heart of the Child Protection Plan.

The summaries from Case Conferences should clarify very specifically the areas of focus for Core Groups.  It will provide the Core Group with the areas of change, the behaviours and evidence indicating the start of a journey (from a level of care); towards a new set of behaviours where the child is safer and care is ‘good enough.’  This will provide the Core Group with the basis of its work in developing the Child Protection Plan.

Core Groups will focus on the specific areas of change.  Developing the plan to achieve these outcomes.  The changes and statements about ‘not good enough’ and ‘good enough’ will be structured through using a scaling tool.  The steps towards a safer outcome will be developed collaboratively with families.

We have received resources from the Welsh Government to support this project for two years.

One of the key investments is in the role of a practice mentor.  The mentor will support individual staff and teams as they implement the framework.  The role will promote the active learning of staff members as they use these new approaches and the tools developed.  We hope to learn from these experiences to further refine the model and deepen our understanding of practice.

The four elements of Effective Child Protection are supported by three specific training programmes.  These include the national Collaborative Conversations training programme as well as two locally developed training events.

These are:

  • Collaborative Conversations
  • Risk Model
  • Effective Child Protection.

The project will produce several new forms and the modification of other forms.  These include:

  • Social Work Report to Initial Case Conference:  this has been modified and agreed and is operational in the pilot area.
  • Social Work Report to Review Case Conference:  this has been modified and agreed and is operational in the pilot area.  

Work has completed on the format of Core Group minutes and Child Protection Plan.  This will ensure the focus on change and measurement scales are included within core documents.