Becca Dove, family worker and Tim Fisher, social worker wrote an article in CommunityCare on lived experience and peer support approaches in child protection. Beginning with a story on a real-world example telling how social services were experienced by a parent and a child, the authors open the important question of empathy and support, and how these could be practised precisely through the two methods.
Present in the academic debate and applied in other disciplines – perinatal support, mental health and more - the benefits are already evidenced in different projects implemented in the USA and Australia.
Parent peer advocacy and peer support based on lived experience approached are slowly moving into human services as they bring two – folded positive impact.
- Parents receive support from others who are familiar with the way they feel and could, therefore, provide insight and critical navigation.
- Professionals could gain expertise on safe, ethical and respectful work for parents, children and families.
Yet, as the integration of the methods in child protection might take time, the authors suggest stepping on relational activism values meaning taking small steps through personal relationships. Examples of such moves could be asking a colleague to join a parent story-telling occasion or simply arranging a cup of coffee between two persons with similar life experiences. By doing so a commitment towards the values of the methods is shown, and conceptualization becomes possible.