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Working with children

Case planning with children

Case planning with children involves listening to them, giving them hope and making them seen and heard in the community. Find out how in more detail in the following paragraphs.

Listen to and involve children in their case plan

Talk with children and young people about how they experience violence. Make sure you check in with them about their experiences regularly. Think about how their views and perspectives can be added to the case plan.

Look at their relationships

Explore a child's relationship with their siblings. Are they close? What level of support and protection do they provide to each other?

Also look at the relationship between the mother and child. If the relationship has suffered because of domestic violence, give them opportunities to spend time together and restore trust. Plan and debrief with each of them to coach and nurture their recovery together.

If the parents have separated, ask about what sort of relationship they want with their father. Acknowledge and consider the children’s views of contact, safety and feelings of divided loyalty. Some children may still want to see their father. Ask the mother for her opinion about how safe contact would be.

Consider what you can put in place to make contact safe. Realistically, most children will continue to have contact with their father, even when violence has been serious and prolonged.

Find others to help and to make children more visible

Increase the child’s visibility in the community through child care, playgroup and parenting support.

Also look into who else in their life can support them. These people could be family, friends, school teachers, and sporting and cultural groups. Plan to maintain and build on these relationships. Always think about how you can make a child feel more connected and less isolated.

Children want to know what you’re going to do and what action is going to stop the violence. Name the supports and services—both formal and wider family—who are available to help them, and be clear about how they can help.

Give hope and healing

If possible, help children to connect with other children who have had similar experiences. This gives them hope that they can recover and provides an opportunity for them to be open about their life story in a way that may not be possible with their peers.

Counselling for children that acknowledges their experience of violence is likely to be most appropriate. Remember that even though you’re not a counsellor, every interaction you have with a child can help them heal.

What not to do when case planning with a child hurt by domestic violence

Do not refer children to counselling when they are unsafe at home. Children need to feel physically and emotionally safe in order to open up about their experiences.

Do not refer children to counselling alone. Children harmed in their relationships must heal in relationships too, so any therapy needs to accept that a safe adult (usually the mother) is crucial to the child staying safe while having the opportunity to process trauma.

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