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Community Capacity Building in Child Protection Projects

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Capacity building is a key goal for child protection services. Child protection workers need to build the capacity of parents to care for their children, the capacity of communities to support families, and the capacity of young people to look after themselves. However, these aims are often undermined by a range of factors. These include:
  • Child protection intervention often occurs in contexts where there is limited knowledge about the extent of the problem and where what is considered acceptable parenting is contestable.

  • Interventions are often perceived as threatening by families and sometimes as unjust, which can affect the degree to which trust and cooperation are developed.

  • Substantial increases in reporting rates mean that services often struggle to identify which cases require the most attention and cope with mounting caseloads.

  • Intense scrutiny and criticism often means that child protection services need to justify every decision they make, meaning that risk assessment procedures and child protection laws are often relied upon to justify interventions rather than providing frameworks for best practice.
These projects draw on various theories of responsive regulation, empowerment, restorative justice, shame management and defiance, and hope to explore how institutions can overcome these challenges in order to build the capacity of parents, communities and young people.

This project is part of the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. For more information contact Nathan Harris.








News Highlights

From the Perspective of Parents: Interviews Following a Child Protection Investigation (2012).This report is based on interviews with 156 parents who had been investigated by a statutory child protection agency following notifications that concerned 219 children.

“Resetting the Relationship” in Indigenous Child Protection: Public Hope and Private Reality (2012). 
A qualitative study explored the private realities of forty-five Australian Indigenous parents and carers who had experiences with child protection authorities was published in Law and Society.


Does Responsive Regulation Offer an Alternative? Questioning the Role of Formalistic Assessment in Child Protection Investigations (2011)

A paper published in British journal of Social Work argues that more families would engaged positively with child protection services if the principles of responsive regulation were applied to assessment within investigation processes.

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