Multi-disciplinary child protection teams: formality or reality?

11 Nov 2015

Teams and professionals representing different child protection stakeholders gathered together at the conference named  “Sharing Realities of Multi-Disciplinary Team Working” organised by Child Protection Hub, Terre des Hommes and Defence for Children in Pristina, Kosovo, on November 9-10, 2015.

The conference brought together around 60 people from 13 countries, representing government bodies, police, health and education sectors, social workers and NGOs. Based on their interests and capacities, they attended sessions on legal aspects and mandates, structure and leadership of multi-disciplinary team (MDT) working, its effectiveness and  functioning, capacity building efforts, monitoring and evaluation of MDT efforts.

While some countries discovered a lot of similarities between their policies and procedures, still there was space for learning from each other. Participants shared their own stories and cases, which often felt inspiring to others. Myra Ter Mulen from “Defence for Children” shared an example from her practice: "We did a joint training for members of a multi-disciplinary group, and we were looking at a photo of a baby, asking whether they can see signs of abuse on her. When you hear the police officer says with full conviction that "you can see the baby was neglected from her eyes, as the eyes are the window to the soul" - then you know the training is effective."

The participants were often pointing out that while in many countries of the region there are official procedures and legislations developed for MDT, they still often find it challenging to apply them at a daily basis. “Indeed, emphasis on the technical and procedural sides often leads to a very formal approach with concentration on procedures only,” Stephanie Delaney, international child protection adviser, confirmed.

Overall, the participants shared the idea of MDT being a very effective approach, as it creates shared understanding, clarifies procedures and practices, identifies roles, expectations and responsibilities, develops skills and knowledge.

Based on the needs articulated by the participants, Child Hub will be organising webinars to explore more the experience of multi-disciplinary work in certain countries of the region, and it will also publish a paper summarizing models of MDT working in the region.

This project is funded by: