The good practice guide to Child Aware Approaches: Keeping children safe and well

CFCA Paper No. 21 – May 2014

What are Child Aware Approaches?

Child Aware Approaches are community-led, innovative and practical, grassroots actions to keep children safe and well

The Child Aware Approaches initiative was introduced as an early intervention and prevention program under the Second Action Plan 2012-15 of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 (the National Framework).

The National Framework is a long-term collaborative agenda to improve the safety and wellbeing of Australia's children, with the key message "protecting children is everyone's business". The National Framework promotes a public health model approach to protecting children. The public health model places a greater emphasis on assisting families early to prevent abuse and neglect occurring by having universal supports (for example, health and education) available for all families and children.

It builds on a project undertaken in the First Action Plan 2009-12 of the National Framework, Protecting and Nurturing Children: Building Capacity Building Bridges,3 which aims to boost the capacity of community sector workers to identify and respond early to families and children who are at risk for child abuse and neglect (building capacity); and strengthen collaboration across sectors to improve the ways in which families with multiple needs experience the service system (building bridges).

A number of additional Child Aware Approaches projects are now being delivered under the National Framework's Second Action Plan, including this guide, national conferences in 2014 and 2015, Child Aware local communities and Child Aware organisations. For more information on Child Aware Approaches projects, see Appendix 1.

Box 1: Philosophies of Child Aware Approaches

Child Aware Approaches are:

  • A. family-sensitive;
  • B. child-inclusive;
  • C. strengths-based;
  • D. collaborative; and
  • E. culturally competent.

Box 2: Principles of Child Aware Approaches

Within each of the Child Aware Approaches philosophies are one or more principles that guide organisations, practitioners and individuals working with Child Aware Approaches to keep children safe and well:

  • Family-sensitive:
    • Principle 1. Identify and respond to the needs of adults who are parents.
    • Principle 2. Acknowledge and build on family strengths while responding to family stressors and risk factors for child abuse and neglect.
  • Child-inclusive:
    • Principle 3. Understand and apply knowledge of children's needs at each stage of their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.
    • Principle 4. Recognise and be sensitive to each child's unique perspective and experience.
    • Principle 5. Include children as active participants in decisions that affect them.
    • Principle 6. Promote child-safe environments.
  • Strengths-based:
    • Principle 7. Enable parents by promoting their parenting role as a motivator for positive change.
    • Principle 8. Build children's resilience by addressing their vulnerabilities and promoting effective, consistent caregiving.
  • Collaborative:
    • Principle 9. Develop and maintain connections between adult-focused services and child- and family-focused services.
  • Culturally competent:
    • Principle 10. Understand cultural influences on family and parenting practices and respond in a culturally sensitive way.

 

Footnote

3 For further information on the Building Capacity, Building Bridges initiative see <w3.unisa.edu.au/childprotection/projects/bcbb>.