This practice paper focuses on improving cross-sectoral relationships between child protection and child and family welfare practitioners, who are often required to work together to keep children and families safe. This paper aims to build practitioners’ collaborative competence; that is, their skills in developing and sustaining effective cross-sectoral relationships in the many and varied circumstances of daily practice.
- Protecting children from abuse and neglect generally requires the coordinated efforts of practitioners from various health and welfare sectors.
- Child protection system inquiries in Australia and internationally have repeatedly highlighted strained relationships and poor coordination between child protection and child and family welfare services.
- There are both system-level barriers (e.g. inadequate resources) and practitioner-level barriers (e.g. mutual lack of understanding) to collaboration.
- Practitioners in the child protection and child and family welfare sectors can strengthen collaborations by adopting strategies to develop their collaborative competence.
- Collaborative competence involves developing an understanding of the differences between the child protection and child and family welfare sectors.
- Collaborative competence is strengthened by clarifying whether collaboration is necessary in a specific circumstance, and, if so, what form it could or should take.
- Collaborative competence depends on communicating effectively with other practitioners and family members.