The child-centred perspective is all about focusing on a child’s needs and best interests, their safety, care, support and wellbeing. It’s about understanding, at a deeper level, what influences a child’s behaviour – how they attach to caring adults in their lives and what impacts on their ability to grow and develop into strong adults.
Having a child-centred perspective requires that we become familiar with research that helps us to understand children and their needs so that we can work in their best interests. Being child-centred is also about supporting and maintaining their rights. Central to this is the work of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) and the underlying theme of children’s entitlement to special care, and the right to provision, protection and participation.
The family led and culturally responsive perspective reinforces the need to work with family cultures and to support them in their primary role of carers and protectors of their children. The driving principle of family empowerment rests at the heart of the framework and guides practice toward greater family-responsiveness. This strongly supports key practice principles within the Oranga Tamariki Act (1989).
The need to strengthen families is recognised and also the need to foster practice partnerships, including processes that involve the broader family in processes of decision making for their children. Being family-led and culturally responsive also requires that we are familiar with the research relating to family engagement and the ways in which families can be supported to care for their children. Supporting the cultural context of the family and working with social networks is also central to this strand of the practice framework.
At the same time as emphasising centrality of the child and being responsive to their unique family and cultural environment there is a need for practice to have a strong knowledge base and to be informed by evidence. It highlights the importance of working in a strengths based approach and maximising the opportunity to learn from research.
Building practice on a solid foundation of research evidence about what works in child welfare is key to getting good outcomes for children and young people. We work on the basis that no one perspective is enough when working with children, young people and their families. It is the weaving together of the perspectives through the phases of our work that makes our practice strong.
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