[International] Failure to Track Risk is a Fatal Flaw in Child Protection

17 Sep 2019
The Cronicle of Social Change

Very often when fatal consequences occur in children served by child protection agencies and services, the question arises as to whether they can do something to prevent it, some critics argue that they could seriously risk the lives of children.

The biggest problem in preventing fatal consequences for children is in assessing the risk and safety of the system. Scientist David Woods emphasized responsibility for making predictions about changing nature of risk before anything goes wrong. It is this change in the nature of risk that is critical to understanding the safety of children who remain in their parents' homes while being supervised by an agency. Family dynamics can change from initial assessments to final outcomes.

The potential resiliencies suggested by Erik Hollnagels that they could be incorporated into the child protection system to be able to improve access to security:

  • the potential to respond to regular and irregular changes,
  • the potential to monitor,
  • the potential to learn from experiences,
  • the potential to anticipate the future.

Two critical factors in continuous safety assessment are actively monitoring and recognizing dynamic changes in the nature of risk and safety and avoiding the assumption that success so far guarantees success as a basis for continuing the plan. Incorporating resilience potential into the work of a child protection agency offers a strategy to further minimize the risk of child deaths while under surveillance.

Suggested best practices to lower the risk are:

  • start with a family team meeting to discuss the good and bad anticipated outcomes,
  • frequent contact monitoring (at least once a week in-person meeting with family members and call with providers),
  • monitoring should focus on changes in the frequency and intensity of threats of harm and changes in caregiver resilience,
  • avoid the pre assumption that if nothing goes wrong everything is going right,
  • failure signs must be communicated to caregivers, whop should plan a response accordingly.

This project is funded by: