How to Prevent Maltreatment of Children Age Five and Under
The first five years of a child’s life are vitally important for healthy development and growth. It is also the period of time when a child is the most vulnerable to suffering consequences of child abuse and neglect. A multidisciplinary group of child welfare and early childhood experts in Colorado recently concluded a year's worth of work reviewing reports and research, conducting focus groups and analyzing data to answer the question; how does the child welfare and early childhood systems, in partnership with families and communities, prevent maltreatment of children age five and under?
The work of the Birth-to-Five Task Group culminated in the submition of a formal white paper to the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Child Welfare and Early Childhood Sub-Policy Advisory Councils with one conclusion - staff turnover is a factor that inhibits strong cross-system collaboration and impacts child and families outcomes.
At the family level, relationship-building and consistency are key to developing strong engagement and as professionals change, the relationship is broken and engagement is lost. At the system level, professionals must have the capacity to learn about programs, understand referrals process, and explore opportunities for creating efficiencies and filling gaps. Again, turnover creates the barrier to strong cross-system collaboration. A stable, consistent early childhood and child welfare workforce means that all families in Colorado are engaged with the right support, services, and interventions at the right time when their children were at the most important stages of development.
Based on a year’s worth of work, the Birth-to-Five Task Group made four recommendations to prevent maltreatment of children age five and under:
- Explore decision-making at the points of assessment closure and case closure.
- Address high staff turnover rates within both child welfare and early childhood systems.
- Enhance cross-system collaboration.
- Ensure that child welfare is engaged in the Colorado Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action developed out of the Office of Early Childhood.
To read the complete white paper and learn more click HERE.