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3. Effective practice when children are at risk

  • The new national child protection guidance includes new protocols for managing cases where children are placed on the Child Protection Register.
  • Research evidence consistently identifies key messages for managers and practitioners when working with complex cases. These include that:
    • Direct observation of carer-child interaction and good quality, regular, supervision for frontline workers are essential.
    • Highly developed communication and assessment skills are essential in working with complex families. Practitioners need to obtain a clear picture of the adults living in a particular household and their role in a given child’s life, while keeping the focus of work on the needs of the child rather than on adult members of the family.
    • Practitioners need to balance an empathic approach to working with carers with a boundaried, authoritative approach which avoids over-optimism and critically questions apparent caregiver compliance with child protection plans.
    • Case intervention needs to avoid a ‘stop-start’ response to intervention where cases are allocated and worked intensely for short periods, but then left to drift, or closed, due to organisational needs rather than the assessed needs of the child.

    SWIA, 2005; Brandon et al, 2008; Fauth et al, 2010; Scottish Government, 2010a, Vincent, 2010