Clearly defined, practical guidance is critical in supporting new staff members, supervisors and managers to practice in child-focused ways. Competency guidelines containing explicit instructions for expected practice are an important part of any organisation.
Trusting and supportive co-working, mentoring and supervision contexts are important for frontline staff members, especially during the early stages of their role. These processes are both accountable to clients and supportive of practitioners.
Co-work processes which make use of existing staff’s skills can support those new to child-focused practice. This strategy is best offered as part of a broader organisational commitment to child-aware practice and co-work. These commitments in turn should be clearly articulated in practice frameworks. As a staff member’s confidence improves, they can begin to develop their own examples of child-focused practice.
To embed child-focused practices within an organisation, supervisors must have a strong understanding of such practices and how they inform service delivery. They must also be skilled in providing supervision to staff that is reflective and encourages the principles of child-focused practice.
Practice framework example (applies to front-line staff, supervisors and managers):
Our organisation is committed to child-focused practice. This means every adult who presents at our service will be asked if they are a parent, and about their relationship with their child and the child’s social and emotional wellbeing.
As part of our commitment to child-focused practice:
- every adult assessment will include a question about children. Regular assessment audits ensure these questions are asked 100% of the time
- our organisation reports quarterly on the number and percentage of adult clients who have accessed support to improve their relationship with their child or to improve their child’s social and emotional wellbeing
- 100% of our staff have received training on child-focused practices, childhood development and child trauma and wellbeing
- 100% of our staff have received training in and participate in reflective supervision.
Child-aware competency examples:
As part of their role, the staff member/supervisor/manager has demonstrated:
- conversation with a parent regarding their relationship with their child
- the use of eco-mapping and/or genograms to facilitate understanding of a parent’s relationship with their child and that child’s social and emotional wellbeing
- collaborative case management with an adult that has had direct benefit to their child’s social and emotional wellbeing
- respectful practice with adults that has identified possible risks to a child’s social and emotional wellbeing at an early stage, through an understanding of child development stages
- child-focused practice that allows the parent to view their current circumstances from the point of view of their child
- understanding of the effects of trauma on children, through a conversation with a parent that encourages them to consider what is happening for their child.