As a health professional, you have responsibility for the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Abuse and/or neglect are more likely to occur when families are under stress. You can help families reduce their stress by facilitating support to a parent(s), family member or caregiver, and/or support the child or children who are showing signs of vulnerability
- Provide early help in line with local protocols and support services, and based on an assessment of the needs of children, young people and families.
- Discuss early help support and interventions with children, young people and families as part of building close working relationships with them and gaining their consent. Explain what the support will involve and how you think it may help.
- Give children, young people and their families a choice of proposed interventions if possible. Recognise that some interventions may not suit that person or family.
- Early help should include:
- practical support, for example help to attend appointments and details of other agencies that can provide food, clothes and toys
- emotional support, including empathy and active listening, and help to develop strategies for coping.
- Give families information about local services and resources, including advocacy, that they may find useful.
- Assessment of vulnerability requires careful continuous gathering of information, including formal assessment, observation and discussion with the family and the child. Information gained about factors associated with risk or vulnerability should be balanced with information regarding the family’s capacity to cope with stressors or problems. Availability of extended family support, good relationships with friends or neighbours and factors promoting personal resilience need to be taken into account.
- There is no one assessment tool or checklist that will reliably identify all children at risk.