Dealing with Child Protection
- Keep your own notes and records. Use a diary to record the date and time of every interaction you have with anyone related to your case. Record the names of people you speak to and what was said. Also record every activity you are doing to address protective concerns about your children.
- Ask questions, and keep asking questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question and you can never ask too many questions.
- Prepare your own agenda and list of questions for all meetings.
- BEWARE social media. Be mindful about using Facebook, Twitter or other social media programs. Comments you make could lead to further reports being made to Child Protection or be used against you in other ways.
- Manage your emotions. Find a safe space to express your emotions when you need to. Use coping strategies to settle your nerves and feel in control when you attend meetings, court and contact with your child.
Know Your Rights
- Seek legal advice. You have a right to understand the laws affecting you and your family. It is best to get legal advice as soon as you become aware that Child Protection have received reports about your family.
- Take a support person or advocate to meetings or court.
- Ask for help and support. Surround yourself with as many supportive people as you can who will provide practical advice, encouragement, understanding and respect.
- Start your own support group. Consider starting a support group with other parents and families facing similar issues in your area.
Help your Child Cope
- Maintain regular contact between visits via phone calls, letters, cards, emails, texts or Skype (whichever methods are available to you and suitable for your child's age).
- Establish simple rituals and structure for all contact. Whether the contact be face to face, by phone or by letter consider how you will greet your child, share news and stories, ask or answer questions, share feelings, end the contact. For example, you might use the same phrase every time you say goodbye. "Rituals act like coat hangers upon which people hang the good memories of their lives" (Andrew Fuller 2007).
- Listen without interrupting. Remember: "The first duty of love is to listen" (Paul Tillich).
- Be supportive and reassuring. Tell your children that what is happening is not their fault and that even though you may be feeling sad or angry yourself, you are OK.
- Put yourself in their shoes. Think about yourself at the same age and what you would have needed in the same situation. Don't make promises you can't keep, or burden your child with adult worries and concerns.