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Case planning with a child

The case plan should involve children in an age-appropriate manner as much as possible. Explore what the everyday life of a child looks like. Be curious about what they want to change and want to remain the same. Let the child guide the process. Do not assume what’s best for them.

When case planning with a child, make sure to:

  • include the child in an age-appropriate way in decision making processes
  • be open with them about decisions for them and what underpins that decision
  • speak about parents in a positive way while being honest and real
  • ask the child what they want to know
  • answer a child’s questions
  • look at the child’s role in the family
  • ask how they feel about this role and how they would like it to change
  • ask the child what they do when their parents act a certain way or do certain things
  • get to know how much they are aware of their parent’s illness

Further reading

Go to the COPMI resources for kids and young people for information on mental health that children can understand.

Plan with the child for when parents are unwell

Planning at all stages - immediate safety plan, long-term safety and support plan or case plan - includes guidance on what a child should do if their parents become unwell. Involve the child in the planning, if age-appropriate and they want to be involved. Ask them how they feel about this and provide space for them to participate.

Let children talk about what they think they need to keep safe. This should help guide the plan for interventions with the family. It also helps to explore the impact a parent’s health has on children in a broader sense. Use the practice tool Safety House to engage with children and allow the freedom to express their needs. 

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