In its annual review of child deaths, The Victoria (Australia) Child Death Review Committee finds problems with the child protection system in some rather predictable areas. These include:
1. Assessment is found to be inadequate in these cases. Fortunately, the committee sees that it is not just the workers but also the orhanziational context in which the assessment takes place.
We need to be asking are case loads too high, budgets avilable to get the work done, supports available to do the work? But there is also a problem with coordinating present and historical data to get a clearer pircture of what is going on in the family. This means that data must be coordinated from other agencies beyond child protection - a theme seen in so many of these inquireis.
As Eileen Munro notes in her work in England, there is also the need to be able to analyse the gathered data and come to realize what is and is not significant. This takes experience and good coaching from mentors and supervisors who have the time to spend with their colleagues.
2. The child's voice is often missed. If a child is not given the opportunity to tell what is going on from their perspective, then vital unformation is never heard. Too often workers give scant attention to that in these published cases. This has been seen for example, in teh Victoria Climbe case in Britain where no worker ever spent any significant time with that little girl.
As the Age media in Australia reports "THE deaths last year of 26 children known to Victoria's child protection authorities has highlighted staff shortages, inadequate training and poor assessment practices, a report has found." Sounds way too familliar!
Those interested in reading the full report from Australia can go to http://www.ocsc.vic.gov.au/downloads/vcdrc/ar_vcdrc_2010.pdf