Jessica Cocks is a social worker and researcher with over 25 years’ experience in child and family practice including out-of-home care. She is the national practice lead for children, young people and families at Life Without Barriers. Jessica is the founding President of Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter, a parent and worker co-led organisation based in New South Wales, which promotes family inclusion and parent-led change in the child protection system. In 2018, Jessica completed a Churchill Fellowship researching family inclusion in child welfare in the USA, Canada, Norway and the UK.
Family inclusion is increasingly recognised as crucial to achieving child protection policy goals across Australian jurisdictions, including the urgent need to support permanency for children and young people safely at home and increase their numbers. We know from research and practice that many Australian families with an experience of the child protection system gravely distrust it, and continue to experience exclusion from child protection processes and their children’s lives.
This webinar will present findings from a Churchill Fellowship project completed in 2018 that explored best practice and research evidence on family inclusion initiatives in the USA, Canada, Norway and the UK. The webinar will challenge dichotomised thinking about parents and children in child protection, and argue for a reconceptualisation of family inclusion that recognises and addresses the social context of child removal. It will also discuss the evidence base for practical innovations in family-inclusive practice in three areas, including parent-to-parent peer work, a greater focus on carer and parent relationships, and parent leadership.