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Example questions for engaging carers

Solution-focused questions

Solution-focused inquiry provides strategies for practitioners to effectively facilitate a change process by asking questions that elicit a vision for change (DCCSDS, 2015).  Below are some examples of solution focused questions you may be able to use when speaking with carers.

Exception questions

  • How would you say that you are different when you are less stressed with your home life?
  • You are saying that the demands of family contact and doctors’ appointments were constant for four days last week. How did you get it all done?
  • Tell me what is different for you at those times when you are confident about an upcoming family contact visit. At those times what was your CSO doing to support you?
  • You have successfully cared for many children over the years as a carer. What helped get you through those times when you had little sleep and the children in care were upset and not sleeping? What are others dong to help during that time?

Miracle questions

  • Suppose one night there is a miracle while you are sleeping and the problem that contributed to this situation has been resolved. Since you are sleeping, you don't know the miracle has happened or that the problem has been resolved. What do you suppose you will notice that is different the next morning that will tell you that the problem is solved?

Follow-up questions may include:

  • If the miracle happened, what would be the first thing you would do?
  • If the miracle happened, what would be the first change you would notice about yourself/your family/the child you are caring for?
  • What would your family notice that is different about you?
  • If you were to take these steps, what would you notice that is different at home?

Scaling questions

  • On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 meaning you have every confidence that this problem can be solved and 0 meaning no confidence at all, where would you place yourself today?
  • On the same scale, how hopeful are you that this problem can be solved?
  • What would be different in your life if you moved up just one step?
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, how much would you say you are willing to work to solve the problem?
  • What would it take for you to increase, by just one point, your willingness to solve this problem?
  • What’s the most important thing you need/have to do to keep things at a 7 or 8? What would you need from Child Safety/your foster and kinship care agency?

Relationship questions

  • If you were the child’s mother, how would you like to see your child being cared for when looking through the window into your family home?
  • When you think of your childhood and the good experiences you had when you were growing up, how can you mirror this for the children in your care with their biological family members?
  • If your mother/best friend was talking with us today, what would she say about this situation?
  • If you were the child in this situation, what do you think you would want to happen next?

Appreciative inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a process to guide reflection and draw out details about what has happened that has led to positive outcomes (DCCSDS, 2015).  Below are some examples of appreciative inquiry questions that may be used with carers when discussing the carer household, family and how the children in care fit within the carer household. Wording in the questions can be adapted so take time to consider which questions support engagement and would best fit the family, the context and purpose of the process.

Remember appreciative inquiry has four domains to help you unpack the information you are looking for: discovery, dream, design and destiny.

Discovery

  • What is great about your family?
  • What situations tend to bring out the best in your family?
  • Let’s share your BEST memory of a good family time.
  • What are the strengths of your family?
  • What are the strengths of each family member?
  • What do you value most about your family?
  • What is working well in your family?
  • What needs immediate attention in your family going forward in order to maintain/have a happy family? 

Dream

  • If you could have a wish for your family, what would it be?
  • What would it be like if you had your wish come true?
  • What’s possible in your family and who cares about what happens?
  • What do you want more of for your family?
  • What do you want more of for you within the context of your family?
  • What is one thing you would like to change in your family?
  • Where do you want to be as a family in 5 years? 

Design

  • What would make your wish come alive?
  • What would it take to create the change(s) needed in your family?
  • What principles/values would you choose to guide your family?
  • How can you support one another in taking the next step?
  • What is one thing you can do to help your family succeed?
  • What challenges might come your way and how might we meet them?
  • What are the next steps we need to take?

Destiny

  • What are you learning and accepting about your family at present?
  • What are you learning and accepting about you—within your family?
  • What unique contribution can you make to creating family happiness?
  • What is one thing you would like to change in you to benefit your family?
  • What commitments are you willing to make to yourself and your family?
  • In looking at the positive changes you have made, what has been the most important thing that you have learnt about yourself?

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    Maintenance.