Making sure children get 'HELD' - Ideas and resources to help workers place Hope, Empathy, Love and Dignity at the heart of child protection and support

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By Nicki Weld

A4 wiro paperback, 80 pages

Published 2009

How children and young people are treated, especially by those closest to them shapes their future relationships and social interactions. To help workers support and strengthen positive and protective relationships in children's lives, this book offers:

  • accessible explanations of key social and emotional competencies - hope empathy, love and dignity - described here by the acronym of 'HELD'
  • practical strategies and resource to help ensure children get 'HELD', can truly live out their potential, and are protected within families and communities

Based on the author's extensive experience in both child protection and -crucially - in work with families facing significant difficulty around having children with severe disabilities, this manual provides:

  • accessible explanations of each of the four 'HELD' competencies, along with brief examples
  • ten strategies for workers to support parents, families and communities in bringing each competency into action and see why they are important to help protect, support and strengthen children's wellbeing and safety
  • Three resources that can be used to help explore the competencies with families and children. Each can be used on it's own, or to support and enhance other information gathering tools, assessment frameworks and intervention planning that workers may already use. they can be used with groups and families, or to help one-to-one work with children and young people, for example in schools or residential settings. These three resources are:
  • a summary sheet of the 'HELD' competencies to give to parents and families as a resource to further support bringing them into action
  • the three Houses information gathering tool, already widely used internationally, to help support engagement and enquiry and explore with parents, children and families how these competencies may or may not be present
  • a simple assessment framework to help workers analyse information they gather

Most of the manual can be photocopied for use in staff development within local teams. (Precise permissions to copy are set out in the manual). the strategy sheets and examples about each competency, and the summary sheet for parents can also be photocopied with those terms for use with clients.

By focusing both on what is missing in the lives of people who harm each other and - especially - children, and on what is present in families where children are cherished and harm does not happen, it is a resource that can:

  • enable parents, family members, workers and communities to become actively involved in reducing the likelihood of children being harmed
  • support children and young people to develop resilient trails and healthy relationships as they progress on their journey to adulthood

Contains the Three Houses tool fir interviewing children, highlighted in the Munro Review as leading the way in communicating with children (Community Care 19th May 2011). Along with other resources in this book, it can be copied for use by staff in developing their work within local team, within any department o a local authority, or within local teams within a charity. for a longer piece about The Three Houses, see Weld N. (2008) 'The three houses tool - building safety and positive change' in Contemporary Risk Assessment in Safeguarding Children, edited by Martin C Calder (RHP, 2008).


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