Have a Question? Need Parenting Advice? Ask Michael Hawton

This week I will speak at the national ‘National Permanency Conference’ run by Adopt Change in Sydney.  It is a conference about how we can help children form attachments and how we can help them be secure by placing them in more permanent placements by making adoptions easier.

It is my view that children should remain with their birth parents where they can be rehabilitated.

That said,  we have much work to make the system better at rehabilitating parents and in coming up with solutions that actually work.

Acceptable care

What is clear is that parents whose care falls below a ‘floor’ of acceptable care is different across different parts of Australia, depending on who is doing the judging of what is acceptable and unacceptable care. This needs to change. We can’t have one child safety office saying that one form of care is acceptable and yet another one, seeing the same parenting behaviour, removing children. We need to stop the variation.  I believe that we can do this by getting our casework managers together each year for two days a year, to moderate what is an acceptable level of care and under what conditions children should be left with their parents’ care and when they should be removed.

As far as working out what we can do to rehabilitate parents, most people who work in this area know that there are still too many questions about what actually works. While some treatments  and interventions are surprisingly popular in clinical settings (CBT and some parenting programmes) additional work needs to be done to resolve intergenerational abuse. Many of the abuses by parents towards their children derive from what those parents themselves have been exposed to as children.

As I prepare to speak at the Adopt Change conference this week I will be very aware that children should remain with their the birth-origin family where a parent’s care rises above a ‘floor’.

However, if a parent cannot ‘lift their game’, it is probable that it will be in that child’s best interests to place them in a permanent adoption.

Michael Hawton. MAPS

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