During this assignment I shall be assessing strategies and methods used to minimise the harm to children, young people and their families where abuse is confirmed.
When looking at the subject of child protection it is important to know the agencies involved in protecting children and young people. There are two areas of profession that are involved in caring for children and young people, for example:
Multi- disciplinary teams
Multi-disciplinary care occurs when professionals from a range of disciplines with different but complementary skills, knowledge and experience work together to deliver comprehensive healthcare aimed at providing the best possible outcome for the physical and psychosocial needs of a patient and their carers. 1
Multi-disciplinary members that may work together can include-:
Health care services: can provide many different services in order to aid the safety of a child and help their family. For example, physical examinations to determine what has caused injury to a child or if they have been severely neglected or making referrals to agencies so that parents can be helped with their issues, thus aiding the child’s living conditions (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous sessions to help deal with excessive drinking).
When looking at it in greater depth, there are also systems within the health care system that aid in ensuring the welfare of children and their families, for example, the Child Protection Information Sharing Project. This is a vital part of being in a multi-disciplinary team and the following explains why; The Child Protection Information Sharing (CP-IS) programme is an NHS England sponsored nationwide initiative that helps clinicians in unscheduled care settings identify vulnerable children. 11 By sharing data across regional boundaries, CP-IS helps health and care professionals build a complete picture of a child’s visits to unscheduled care settings, supporting early detection and intervention in cases of potential or actual abuse. 12 This is very important, as all those in a multi-discipline agency need to communicate to provide the best outcome for the child in terms of safety.
Education services: Education works in many ways to reduce harm to children, such as, training their staff members on how to spot maltreatment, follow up suspicions, the correct way to report suspected or confirmed maltreatment, and assigning an individual to be the Child Safeguarding Officer, so that they can be in direct contact with the correct services to help deal with maltreatment reports. Schools must also ensure that the people that they hire do not pose a risk to children. It is a legal requirement that all staff working within a school environment must be DBS checked before they begin work. These checks are imperative as they ensure that those with harmful criminal records are spotted and refused entry for the safety of the children.
Schools also set up provisions within education to help children cope with abuse or troubles, for example, some schools have adopted the Place2Be help scheme. This organisation helps to support children who may be having basic issues, or offer them a place to sort out their feelings, if they have suffered maltreatment. There is a special Place2Be room inside the school where children can go to express and think about their worries, through talking, creative work and play. Adults that are qualified to work therapeutically, called School Project Managers, support this process, helping children to find new ways of coping with difficulties so they don’t get in the way of friendships or learning. 13
Social services: Social services play a great part in caring for children, as they conduct investigations into reports of maltreatment by through contacting the family, assess the safety of the child within the environment and report their findings to other agencies involved, making sure that everyone is aware of the situation and is communicating effectively. Social services are a vital part of ensuring a child is safe because offering unconditional acceptance of the child until proven otherwise is the foundation of their work, which is needed in the process of ensuring child’s safety.
In the process of ensuring the child’s safety there are groups and sessions that they social worker can make referrals too, to see if the condition of the child improves, for example, Harrow Offering Parents Encouragement (HOPE). HOPE is a parenting class that runs in the evening time that helps with building self-esteem for children and parents, understanding children’s behaviour, listening skills, effective communication, positive discipline, dealing with feelings and setting limit. 14 It is aimed at helping those with children between the ages of 3-12 years of age.
Local authority service
When a child is made the subject of a care order, the local authority has legal responsibility for the child. 2 local authority will seek a court order if a child does not receive appropriate care from a parent, and that lack of care is causing the child significant harm. 3The court will decide whether or not a child is suffering harm in this way. 4
There are also different services within the local authority involved in caring for children, for example:
Local authority circulars: LACs are issues by the Department of Health to communicate guidance or a requirement for urgent action to local authorities. 5 LAC’s are a significant part of child protection as they put policies in place to try and minimize the harm to children, for example, For the next financial year (2017/18), the rates of the Minimum Income Guarantee will remain at their current levels as follows: 7(1)(b) where the adult concerned is responsible for, and a member of the same household as, a child, the amount of £83.65 in respect of each child.6
Children’s Trust England: Are an organization that provide care for children who have special needs. Their key objectives are:
· be the best at what we do 7
· respond to the needs of children and young people 8
· ensure our services are there for children for the long term 9
· scale up. 10
The children’s trust play an important role in minimising maltreatment suffered within the service that they provide, for example, the policy they adopt in terms of safeguarding states that they aim to:
· safeguard and provide protection for the children and young people who receive services from The Children’s Trust. 15
· To provide staff and volunteers with guidance on procedures they should adopt if they suspect a child or young person may be experiencing, or be at risk of, harm. 16
· Valuing them, listening to and respecting them 17
· Hearing the young person’s voice through their advocate 18
· Adopting child protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers 19
· Recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made 20
· Sharing information about safeguarding, child protection and good practice with children, parents, staff and volunteers 21
· Sharing information about concerns promptly with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately 22
· Providing effective management for staff and volunteers through support, supervision and training. We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually. 23
All the strategies above are used by different organisations to ensure that the risk of maltreatment to children is reduced. All the strategies and procedures used have to adhere to certain legislations in order to provide the best care for children and young people, for example:
Ø The Children Act (1989&2004): This act places a statutory duty on agencies to co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. 24 This is a very important aspect of legislation to adhere to as it promotes the work of and communication of multiple agencies so that they may work efficiently enough to protect a child or young person.
Ø The Education Act (2002) The governing body of an institution within the further education sector shall make arrangements for ensuring that their functions relating to the conduct of the institution are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children receiving education or training at the institution. 25 Sections such as this are very important in terms of child protection as it sets a guideline that professional must stick to, stating that those working within such an institution must be educated as to how to properly safeguard a child.
Ø Every Child Matters (2003)- States that all organisations that work with children must work in unison to protect children from harm. Information must also be gathered on vulnerable children and young people, so that provisions can be put in place to help cater to their needs.
Ø Protection of Freedoms Act 2012- It is a legal requirement in the UK for regulated activity employers to refer safeguarding concerns to the DBS. 26 It is an offence for anyone barred by the DBS organisation to work or apply to work in the sector of children and adults, from which they are barred. It is also illegal for an employer to knowingly employ a barred person in the sector from which they are barred. 27. Legislation such as this is very important in terms of social work alongside the Data Protection Act (1988), as a lot of sensitive information is handled during these cases and hiring the wrong person could seriously breech this form of protection, hence why it is important that all staff members are DBS checked.
When a child or young person has witnessed abuse, this can leave them feeling vulnerable, meaning they and their families may need support, this can come in many ways, for example:
Ø Provide access to professional support: One a child has disclosed that they are suffering from maltreatment, the correct authorities or agencies can be allocated to help them. To help the child best the truth needs to be told. Thus, members of staff in which the child has opened up to should try and encourage the child to try and tell them as much as possible, as clearly as possible. Information from said confession is then passed onto the correct agencies and authorities, so that allegations may be investigated. People such as the Local Safeguarding Board and the police will be involved in the investigation. It is important that these agencies keep in contact with one another, so that the child can be supported and protected in the best way.
There are many strengths to providing professional support, the first being greater investigative aid. Once the child opens up to you it leaves the opportunity for the adult to ask further questions, revealing more information. This could provide more evidence for social services to use during their investigation. Another strength is that by providing different agencies with information during early signs of maltreatment, provisions and action plans and intervention can happen sooner, so that the maltreatment doesn’t progress further. On the other hand, some children are too shy, limited in speech, embarrassed or scared to open up about their maltreatment, meaning that they may not say much in regard to maltreatment, which may lengthen investigation, which is a weakness. Agencies putting plans into place during early recognition or maltreatment is beneficial as this can minimize the maltreatment suffered in the future.
Ø Unconditional acceptance for the child or young person: When a child or young person opens up to you about maltreatment, it is extremely important that you remember that it is not an easy for the young person to open up about their issues, as they often feel as though people will not believe them. Thus, it is essential that care staff immediately believe in what a child is saying. Whether the disclosure be full or partial, you must keep in mind that the young person is not to feel insecure or not believed when talking to you.
This aspect of strategy is a strength as it can act as a great comfort to children to have somebody believe in what they are saying. This is also a strength as it means that they may trust you more to open up to you, and the more information gathered the more their case can be helped. A weakness of this could be that a child may take advantage of the fact that they know someone will listen and report, if they don’t understand the concept of telling the truth, which could spark multiple cases of unnecessary investigation. Accepting a child is also an effective way of minimizing the risk of maltreatment in the future, as they may open up to people quicker, knowing that its okay, meaning that the problem can be dealt with before it gets too severe.
Ø Empowering Children: Children should be given strategies in order to help empower them in situations of exploitation and abuse. Lessons and programs, designed with sensitivity in mind, are designed to address some of the issues entailed with abuse. These lessons are often used by certain settings and the individual involved should be made to understand that saying ‘no’ is okay and to be aware of what is acceptable and inappropriate. This is a strength for two reasons. Firstly, because by providing someone to talk to these lessons could help young individuals deal with the complex feelings that come with experiencing maltreatment. Secondly, it gives them new knowledge as to how they can stay safe, thus acting as a way of minimizing maltreatment as they will know better should future events occur. Although these sessions are useful; the maltreatment could still be occurring without the authorities knowing. Also, parent could be manipulating the actions of the child, thus rendering the empowerment null, which is a weakness.
Ø Awareness of the potential impact on the child/ young person and on other family members: When situations of abuse arise, there is sure to be an impact on the child as well as members of their family. This impact is increased further if the abuser is a member of the nuclear family. In cases where the abuser is someone who is outside of the family, the family can act as a string unit of support for those who have been abused. There are various support systems that are available for families in order to help them come to terms with the abuse or exploitative situation, such as, whole family counselling, individual counselling and play counselling for younger individuals.
Counseling has many different benefits to a person and a family as a unit. One strength is the release of tension within a family unit. Some family’s may try to avoid talking about abuse, which can make the victim feel quite alone, however, talking about it relives their pent-up feelings, meaning that the therapist can work with the family members on how to deal with the issue. Another strength of counselling is that it could strengthen the family unit, as they may learn communication methods that they can apply to future situations. Although teaching methods of communication is good, some may not apply them behind closed doors, as they may feel as though the counselling is not necessary, which could lead to further communication breakdown. This is a very immense weakness. These have the potential to help overcome maltreatment as they can help the perpetrators of certain abuses such as neglect, become more aware of the effect on their children, which could lead to them seeing the relevance or need for help in the family’s relationship.
During this assignment I shall be evaluating how effective strategies of coping with maltreatment are on a family in terms of catering to their physical, intellectual, emotional and social wellbeing.
Maltreatment is always unsettling to the victim of such abuse. However, the damaged caused via maltreatment does not stop at the victim, it can also disrupt the environment of a family home, thus methods need to be put in place to help families cope with recovery and support. As stated above, the different coping strategies include:
· Provide access to professional support
· Unconditional acceptance for the child or young person:
· Awareness of the potential impact on the child/ young person and on other family members
· Empowering Children
These can benefit different people in different ways, for example:
Provide access to professional support: Forms of support
· Letting the future in: This service offers help to children aged 4-17 years old, who have suffered from sexual abuse. They offer aid through discussions and special play therapy. They do things like messy play, writing, storytelling and art to help express feelings that children can’t put into words. 28 They also talk to their parents or carers to help the whole family. Parents and carers of children who have been sexually abused can play a really important role in helping their child recover. They are offered some individual support and some joint sessions with the child. 29
· Safe Care: Safe Care was developed to offer practical support to parents of children aged 5 or under. It aimed to help parents to develop parenting skills and focus on the needs of their child. 30 They visit a family for 18-20 sessions and provide one to one support in their own home. Together, with the parent, they would agree some goals to aim for. Then they help them focus on areas that needed work and how they could achieve their goals. At the end, the worker would look back at progress together to work out if and how things had improved. 31
· DART: The Domestic Abuse Recovering together team aid families by arranging sessions every week, with mothers and children aged 7-14 for a 2-hour group session. 32 The sessions are for 10 weeks. Children and mothers work together for the first portion of the session and then take part in activities in separate groups for the final hour. At the end of each session, they join together again. Children take part in activities together which help them build their own understanding of domestic abuse, how they’re feeling and how to keep themselves safe. 33
How do they support those who have suffered maltreatment?
Physical- I think that these strategies are effective in catering to the family’s needs physically because some of these strategies aim to educate parents about better ways to sustain their children e.g. through healthy diets to how to spot signs of self-harm and how to deal with such situations.
Intellectual: I think that these strategies are effective in catering to the family’s needs intellectually as their main goal is to release bottled up feelings and break tensions, be them from situations of sexual abuse or domestic violence. Therapy that informs families on ways to communicate better are extremely vital to the recovery of the family after such situations. ‘Venting’ issues can ease people’s minds boosting family support, thus obtaining new knowledge on how to do this in a way that is healthy for the family helps intellectually.
Emotional: I think that sessions such as, DART and Letting the Future In, aid families and young people emotionally as they offer a safe place where young people and families can vent their issues. Being able to release issues or talk about abuse is so important, as repressing them can lad to explosive behaviour, in young people and between family members, which doesn’t aid the family bonding process after sensitive situations have occurred. Sessions such as this are also helpful as they teach young people and their families how to cope with and release their emotions in a way that everyone can understand, meaning that they can be helped better in the future.
Social: The methods used during these sessions benefit both patient and family socially, as people cannot properly function amidst their peers, be them work or school, without the right state of mind. When people are feeling vulnerable or depressed they may develop introverted or anti-social behaviours, causing them to withdraw from people. I think these form of strategies are effective as they can teach people how to release the burdens of these bad thoughts, so that they can carry on as normal. This is particularly important for kids who have suffered sexual abuse in their early stages in life, as what happens in the younger years of life can affect a person throughout their life, thus it is important to teach them how to deal with pent up feelings in a healthy way.
I think that these strategies are effective in catering to the family’s needs physically because…
14. htt p://www.hopeharrow.org.uk/content/effectiveparenting.html