Meeting children's needs when the family environment isn't always "good enough": A systems approach

Meeting children's needs when the family environment isn't always "good enough": A systems approach

Debbie Scott

CFCA Paper No. 14 — May 2013
Meeting children's needs when the family environment isn't always "good enough": A systems approach

This paper provides a theoretical basis to using a systems approach to working with vulnerable and high-risk families where children's needs are generally being met, but where parenting is at times not "good enough" or even unsafe.

Practical tools to aid the implementation of a systems approach to intensive home based support for these families are provided in three accompanying practice resources. These resources (developed by Marie Iannos and Greg Antcliff, 2013) provide some guidance in the use of motivational interviewing, planning for safety with at-risk families and parent skills training:



Key messages

For some at-risk children, out-of-home care is the best option. For others - especially those who live in family environments that are safe most of the time, but which occasionally become unsafe - intensive home-based family support may be preferable.

Judging whether a family environment is "safe enough" can be difficult, especially considering there is no definitive description of what constitutes a safe environment for children.

The systems approach has been advocated by a number of child protection experts. This approach emphasises that while it is not possible to eliminate human error or guarantee child safety, the consequences of errors and dangers can be minimised by establishing systems that recognise that they will inevitably occur.

If the strengths in the family environment are encouraged, and if risks are minimised using a systems approach, it may be possible to provide safety for children who live in variable family environments.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Debbie Scott is a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Leah Bromfield (Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia). Appreciation is also extended to Elly Robinson and Rhys Price-Robertson of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 14
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2013.
10 pp.

Publication meta

PACRA Register

The Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register is a searchable database of 944 research and evaluation projects related to protecting children. A range of filtering options enable easy access to relevant Australian research conducted between 2011 and 2015.

Access the Register

Need some help?

CFCA offers a free research and information helpdesk for child, family and community welfare practitioners, service providers, researchers and policy makers through the CFCA News.



Sign up to our email alert service for the latest news and updates