We recognise that in order to support families to make changes that are helpful and long lasting, we need to work with all the members of the family. If we understand and recognise that the needs and desired outcomes of each person in the family affect each other, we are more likely to support and enable sustainable change.
The Family Approach Protocol and Toolkit was commissioned by the 4 Safeguarding Children Partnerships and 4 Safeguarding Adult Boards (4LSABs) in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton. The protocol was commissioned in response to findings from a range of reviews across all Partnership’s which highlight the need for professionals to work effectively together to achieve better outcomes for adults, children and their families across all areas.
As part of the Family Approach Toolkit we have put together some practical tips on having honest conversations, working with families and suggested conversation starters.
Professionals are required to have honest conversations with children, adults and their families, on a regular basis. It can sometimes be difficult to navigate these conversations and find the right words and approach to convey what you need to say in a way that will be understood, and accepted by those receiving the message.
Here are some tips to enable professionals to have honest, and at times difficult conversations, and being clear and easy to understand. These should be useful at times when you are having to share difficult news, or information that is likely to be disputed or not accepted.
There is increased awareness of the impact that the problems and difficulties experienced by adult family members can have on the development and psycho-social adaptation of children. There is also national recognition that emotional abuse and in particular neglect of children is significantly under-recognised and addressed.
Parents, carers or expectant parents may have difficulties which impact on their ability to meet the needs of their children or expected child and / or adults at risk. These children may be in need of assessment for services provided by a range of agencies from universal and early intervention to acute or specialist.
These questions are designed to guide your decision making when establishing the needs of the adults, children and /or unborn child.
A lead professional is accountable to their home agency for their delivery of the lead professional functions. They are not responsible or accountable for the actions of other practitioners or services.
Prompts for joint working between the children and adult workforce:
Professionals are required to have honest conversations with families’ about how their needs and decisions can impact on the children living within the family unit. It can be difficult to know how best to approach these conversations and find the right words to convey what you need to say in a way that will be understood, and accepted by those receiving the message. Here are some suggested ‘conversation starters’ and tips for talking to families about whether a parent’s learning disability, mental health or substance misuse is having an impact on their parenting capacity.
Using the following questions
“I can’t seem to get the family to understand what I am concerned about?” Try the following:
“I want to gain the child / young person’s views but am not sure what questions to ask them“. Children when asked what they consider to be good practice, valued professionals who:
Try asking the child / young person the following:
“The family had shown that they do know and understand what good parenting is… but they don’t do it consistently”. Try the following:
Family Safeguarding is based on the principle of safeguarding being a shared and equal responsibility between adults and children’s services.
This is a whole family approach focusing on improving outcomes and reducing harm to children, by working with the adults in the family. This way of working supports the adults to address their difficulties and will support children to live safely at home with their families. It will prevent more children and young people coming into local authority care. By addressing the difficulties that adults can experience, it will enable them to develop a better understanding of their children’s needs and to focus on developing their skills as a parent.
The Family Safeguarding Service includes specialist adult workers bringing expertise on adult issues, such as substance misuse, domestic abuse, mental health needs and social isolation. Motivational Interviewing is the unifying practice model. This focuses on strengths based approach, building relationships and working with resistance & behaviour change
These adult worker are co-located within the Children’s Locality Social Work Teams. These workers practice alongside children’s social workers, contributing to existing Child in Need and Child Protection processes.
The Family Safeguarding Service provides: