Category: Inclusive, Enabling Communities | Caring and protection of particularly vulnerable groups | 22 March, 2013 - 08:43← BACK
Kids Haven provides alternative care to street children and others at risk. Childcare is managed by social workers who regularly need to deal with children displaying problematic behaviour. Childcare must develop relationships so children become comfortable to share and receive support. The Children’s Act requires every child must have an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to plan for the best possible outcomes for each child.
We care for 180 children. The dual issues of extreme behaviours and necessary ‘paperwork’ pose a time and energy challenge. It is thus vital to provide counselling time while maintaining the IDP process.
To deal with this challenge we restructured childcare to create 3-way teams responsible for every child. The social worker manages the IDP process while each child is assigned a key careworker. Community workers and social workers conduct home visits to gather background information for the IDP process. All information is centrally stored in an electronic data management system to share pertinent information.
The care clusters has led to increased accountability and responsibility of the key care worker to provide detailed information about the child’s daily life to the social worker. This information informs the IDP and cues the social worker of critical counselling needs. The key care worker uploads this information into the electronic data system regularly so that the social worker can access current information any time. It is easier to develop an IDP with current information. Information from home visits is also included. This single repository allows the social worker to have relevant background data at his/her fingertips to develop the IDP. Once the IDP process starts, the child and others are included in panel meetings to discuss and gain agreement on the IDP. Other programme coordinators add information too.
The care worker and community worker are responsible for gathering information that reflects the child’s progress. The electronic system ensures that information is collected in a single format to simplify data retrieval. Social workers work closely with care workers, fostering staff relationships and the value of each member of the care team.
Why it works:
As a result the IDP process is accelerated and we comply with the Children’s Act while delivering a better service to the child. Efforts are brought together by both Social Work and child care teams to work towards clearly defined objectives and future plans for each child. The Institution shares one reunification plan for each child and is working towards a common goal.
We believe that care workers play a more significant role than just ‘looking after’ the child. The care worker’s opinion, comments and involvement in the life of the child are highly regarded as she/he becomes the source of information to include in the IDP. The social worker and care worker have many opportunities for joint sharing and learning.
The data management system is helpful but not essential if the care worker teams are sure of the type of information required to inform the IDP. The data system specifies a format which simplifies the gathering of information. It has still been necessary to train Childcare to know what to look for in behaviour and how to evaluate that behaviour.
There isn’t enough time for one person to ‘do everything’. It is better to empower a team to efficiently manage the legal requirements and more effectively manage the child’s progress.
As care workers become more familiar with collecting and sharing information systematically, it becomes possible for them to offer analysis of behaviour. Kids Haven is moving towards conducting baseline assessments against a model (‘the circle of courage’) and then re-evaluating periodically to measure behaviour change systematically and equitably. Currently, the IDP assists in establishing appropriate intervention programmes based on the circle of courage.
Positive behaviour change enables positive integration in community. Measuring criteria such as behaviour, personal development and the viability of home circumstances will indicate the most suitable period for disengagement from the organisation and full reintegration. Decisions will be based on good evidence gathered over time rather than opinion or ‘feelings’.
38 Cranbourne Avenue Benoni
(011) 421 4222
In this one-page-pitch Kids Haven shares how they have dealt with the competing priorities of providing much needed counselling and the time consuming tasks related to the development and management of required documentation.