Parents with complicated lives: do child protection services help or hinder?

Baker, Joanne, Miles, Debra, and Thorpe, Ros (2006) Parents with complicated lives: do child protection services help or hinder? In: Papers from CROCCS International Conference: Working Together for Families . pp. 1-8. From: CROCCS International Conference: Working Together for Families , 4-6 August 2006, Mackay, QLD, Australia.

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This paper will outline a research project which seeks to centre the voices of parents who have been involved with Child Protection services. The need for a study which focuses on the experiences of service users who have ‘complicated lives’ is discussed with reference to some literature about the intersection of child protection with multiple difficulties relating to violence, disability and problematic substance use. The term ‘complicated lives’ is drawn from the work of Liz Kelly (2000). She uses this expression in her analysis of the systemic constraints facing women who experience multiple and repetitive forms of violence and abuse in order to describe the complex and compound difficulties that may characterise people’s lives. We have chosen to use the term ‘complicated lives’ because it enables us to purposefully avoid pathologising approaches and language which rigidly categorise and stigmatise those with such experiences.

Australian research confirms the significant extent to which parents who come to the attention of statutory child protection services are experiencing multiple difficulties. In up to 75% of child protection cases, parents experience problematic substance use, a physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability or ‘family violence’ (Community Care Division, Victorian Government Department of Human Services 2002). The Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care reports an increase in child protection applications resulting from parental issues with substance use, mental illness and/or violence (Senate Community Affairs Committee 2005). Child protection figures from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare show that 44% of such parents experience two or more of these problems (Australian Institute for Health and Welfare 2003).

Item ID: 1596
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
Keywords: child protection; parents; mental health issues; substance abuse
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Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2007
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111704 Community Child Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940105 Childrens/Youth Services and Childcare @ 100%
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