''Listen to Me": Exploring children's participation during child protection assessment

''Listen to Me": Exploring children's participation during child protection assessment

Dr Mary Salveron

As a way of addressing the urgency in progressing needed research about children's participation, the current study has two aims. Firstly to develop a tool and methodology for exploring children's views and experiences of their worker during the assessment phase of the child protection process, using a qualitative interview and rating tool. Secondly, to pilot the tool and methodology. This second objective involved two phases which were to 1) determine the feasibility of conducting research with children aged 12 years and under at the assessment phase of the child protection process and 2) gain insight into their experiences of using the tool. Such methods and approaches allow children to become experts in their own lives and create 'a sense of power and control and provide them with a voice with which to describe their experiences and perspectives on what is important' (Bromfield & Osborn, 2007, p.19). This is especially critical in child protection research as there is much uncertainty about children's cases, living arrangements and overall environment (Shemmings, 1999).


Salveron, M., Finan, S. & Bromfield (2014). 'Why Wait?': Engaging with children and young people in child protection research to inform practice. Developing Practice.

Publication/Completion Year:

Research Focus

  • Support for children who have been abused or neglected
Major Findings:

While children's ratings of their worker and child protection experience were generally positive, thematic analysis of the interviews with children revealed mixed experiences. Children highlighted the themes of: (1) Engagement and support, (2) Uncertainty surrounding worker and practice and (3) Importance of communication during their involvement with child protection services. Children were also generally positive about their participation in the research study as a way of examining their perspectives about their child protection worker and practice they received. Findings from this small sample are consistent with themes emerging from research into other sensitive issues with young children (under 12) and of children over 12 in the child protection system, that children are active participants in the child protection process.


Findings from this small sample pilot are consistent with themes emerging from other research focusing on sensitive issues with young children (under 12) and of children over 12 involved with child protection intervention. Children valued the support given to them and their families by their workers but were still uncertain about who their worker was, what they did and the child protection process. The qualitative findings showed that while children may express being listened to, heard, being spoken to and feel like they are participating, these experiences may not necessarily translate to feelings of safety and a clear understanding of what was happening around them involving their families. Facilitating better communication between child protection workers, children and families may assist in alleviating uncertainty for children in order to prepare them so they know what to expect during investigations or assessments. Furthermore, it may also prevent the good intentions of workers in including children in the process from being experienced negatively such as the young child who was not able to keep her drawings.

Child Abuse Type(s):
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Neglect
  • Exposure to family violence
Type of Programme:
  • Statutory CP service

Further Citations

"Listen to me": Emphasising children and young people's voices in child protection practice, Signs of Safety Festival of Learning 2013, Perth, Western Australia, November 2013

"Listen to me": Engaging children and young people's voices in child protection practice, 13th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Melbourne, Victoria, November 2013

Commencement Year:
Project Completed?:
Completion Year:


Information obtained from:
Added to Register: 30 June 2016
Last updated: 30 November 2016

Publication meta

Project location(s):
  • Western Australia
Project Type:
Research only
Participants/Data Sample:
  • Children / Young people
Sample Size:
Small (1-19 participants)
Mixed methods

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