This e-learning presentation provides an overview of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services' Strengthening Families Protecting Children Framework for Practice.
It is designed to provide families and agencies with an understanding of how the department will work in partnership with them, and offers practitioners working with children and families an insight into the foundational elements of the framework for practice.
The presentation is also a useful resource for the induction of new staff. The presentation was developed by the Children's Research Center in collaboration with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
Imagine your work when it is most effective, collaborative, and successful, achieving the best outcomes for all. What would your work look like? Your relationships with your colleagues? What would need to be in place to support this vision?
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is a Queensland Government agency committed to promoting and supporting excellence in the delivery of human services to Queenslanders. It focuses on a vision where Queensland’s children and young people are cared for, protected, safe and able to reach their full potential.
A review of Queensland’s child protection system in 2012 found that the Department, despite good intentions, was not ensuring the safety, wellbeing and best interests of children as well as it should or could. Not only did the review identify an unsustainable number of children entering the child protection system and evidence of an intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect, it also identified a need for the Department to refocus on learning, improving, and sharingresponsibility to design a better child protection system. A particular mandate was to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within the system.
In response to the inquiry, the Department collaborated with a broad variety of participants to develop the Queensland Strengthening Families Protecting Children Framework for Practice. The Framework for Practice grew out of a need for us to do more and to be supported in doing more—to improve not only how we work with families, but also how we work with each other. The Framework is a strengths-based and safety-oriented practice framework to help guide our child protection practice, our work within the Department, and our work with our partners.
Our strengths-based, safety-oriented framework provides the Department with a roadmap that will help us to ensure current and future policies, procedures, and practices are developed and delivered in accordance with our values and principles, built on a foundation of safety, belonging and wellbeing for children.
Every person who works in the Department has a role to play in achieving quality outcomes for children, young people and families. The values and principles that inform how we work must be reflected in the way we work within our organisation and with our partners. How we treat each other, also speaks to how we treat children and families.
The framework consists of six key elements: our vision for the future, our best hopes for the children and families we work for, and the values, principles, knowledge, and skills that guide our work.
Strengths-based, safety-oriented work requires a commitment from the organisation to support practices of reflection, appreciation, and ongoing learning. Everything we do, including how we manage, lead, and supervise staff and our continual quality improvement and training processes, must reflect this commitment.
This Framework was developed through a collaboration between the Department, the Children’s Research Centre, and SP Consultancy. The development process included a review of the previous practice framework in the Department, research on best practices in child protection, feedback from state wide focus groups that included over 520 participants, and successful work occurring around the globe. Focus group participants included parents and other family members, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, young people, carers, community agency representatives and departmental staff.
The participation of so many in the frameworks development shows that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – each of us plays a critical role in realising this vision for Queensland’s child protection system.
So, what does the Strengthening Families Protecting Children Framework for Practice mean for your work? The Framework for Practice defines our way of being, acting, and working together. It will impact your engagement with other departmental staff, inform your professional development, guide organisational decisions, and help articulate these decisions to relevant stakeholders with the goal of enhancing practice and organisational effectiveness. More generally, our hope is that the Framework will:
Enhance connections across the Department and with our partner agencies to help us all provide the best practice to children, young people and families
The Framework’s Foundational Elements clearly explain the organisational values that serve as touchstones in all our work;
Ensures that everyone within the Department is clear on the what, the why, and the how we do things;
Serves as a yardstick for organising agency operations, measuring performance, and identifying strengths and areas for improvement;
And assists the Department in making decisions regarding our work.
So, what are the Foundational Elements of The Framework for Practice? First, our Best Hopes, as everyone who works for the protection of children has an important role in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families. Our best hopes are:
Safety—That children and young people are safe and surrounded by family, networks, and community who protect them from harm. Belonging—That children and young people have strong, meaningful connections to family, community, and culture. Wellbeing—That children and young people are supported to thrive in all areas of their lives. These are the outcomes we are seeking for the children, young people, and families we work for. Our Department, from administrative staff to frontline workers to policy makers, will all be oriented toward achieving these best hopes through the Framework.
Values underpin and shape every part of our work—the way we work with one another, how we structure our activities, how we set goals, form relationships, gather information, assess, plan and facilitate change. No matter where you work in the Department or how you work with the Department, we all share a common set of core values.
Our core values are: Family and community connection—We share a commitment to supporting work that ultimately encourages families and communities to strengthen their capacity to safely care for their children. Participation—Interventions, whether with families or within the Department, are more likely to lead to meaningful, lasting change when the people affected are active participants in the work. Partnership—Everyone needs to work together respectfully, transparently, and collaboratively to support the best outcomes for children and families.
Cultural integrity—We respect people from all cultures as being experts in their own lives and culture. We will be humble and curious, reflect openly about our potential biases, address potential barriers to relationship building, understand the impact of history, and be accountable for more just practices.
Please take a moment to reflect on the values in The Framework for Practice that you have just seen. Which of these values is most visible in your work? On a scale from 0-10, with 10 being ‘always’ and 0 being ‘never’ – how often do you feel these values should inform how the Department works with families, how we work internally with each other, and with our partners? What kind of difference would it make if we did this even more?
Principles are another foundational element of the Framework for Practice. They give us direction and help us apply our values in our work, with actionable steps we can take with the people we serve and colleagues and partners we work with.
By always focusing on safety, belonging and wellbeing; we recognise that cultural knowledge and understanding is central to children’s safety, belonging and wellbeing; we build collaborative working relationships and use our authority respectfully and thoughtfully; we listen to staff’s views and involve them in planning and decision making; we seek to understand the impact of the past, but stay focused on the present and the future; we are rigorous and hopeful in our search for strengths and solutions; we critically reflect on our work and continue to grow and develop
Take a moment to reflect on the principles in The Framework for Practice that you have just seen. How might you apply these principles in your daily work? How can you take the principles and adjust them to suit your role? Now read them again and think about how you can take the core meaning of each of the principles and use them to inform your work with colleagues and partners.
When we draw upon our knowledge we make a choice about what is relevant to our work and what we see as being of value. Organisational knowledge is important, but on its own it’s not enough. The Framework for Practice identifies other sources of knowledge as being essential to quality work. They include: Individual and family based—Acknowledging that individuals and family members have critical knowledge and expertise about themselves and their families. Community and cultural based—Respecting the wisdom of communities and cultural groups and the diverse and complex elements of culture, race, and religion that may challenge our assumptions. Research based—Understanding and making rigorous use of interventions that have been found through research to be safe and effective and to produce intended outcomes. Practitioner based—Learning from your own work. Through conversation and reflection, working individually or collaboratively with peers or your supervisor to consider what works, what does not, and what could be improved. Systems based—Understanding and collaborating with systems such as income support, health, education, criminal and legal, housing. These often have a significant impact on families’ lives and often intersect our work. The framework recognises all these sources of knowledges and what they teach us, as being essential to quality practice.
Please take a moment now to reflect on the knowledge bases in The Framework for Practice that you have just seen. Identify one you think you could draw on more often. How might your work be different? Think about ways you can broaden your understanding of that knowledge and apply it to your work more. How can you maintain curiosity about knowledge that assists your own professional development?
Skills involve what we actually do– the tools, processes and day to day activities that comprise our work. They include: Engagement—the development of effective working relationships characterized by openness, curiosity and transparency. Assessment—critical reflection and robust decision making at key decision points; the use of rigorous and balanced assessments that help us maintain accuracy and consistency while prompting examination of situations, beliefs, assumptions and values Planning— the collaborative process for building rigorous change plans; mutually agreed-upon and implemented action steps and plans that enhance shared goals Process—focus on the processes that support and reinforce our work, including supervision and continual quality improvement. It is often not what we do that creates the change, but how we do it.
Please take a moment to reflect on the skills in The Framework for Practice that you have just seen. What is a skill you could pay more attention to in your work so that it reflects the values and principles of the framework?
Now, imagine a supportive organisation where everyone is inspired by this shared vision for the future, encouraged by our collective best hopes for the children, young people and families we serve, guided by clear values, principles, knowledge and skills that drive all of the work that we do.
The Framework for Practice explicitly reinforces this vision for the Department and strengthens our commitment to each other and to Queensland’s children and young people. It provides the organisational backing and infrastructure to support and embed these ways of working moving forward, and it recognizes you as a key change agent in the process. We invite you, no matter your role, to join us in achieving this vision.