In the United Kingdom, there has been an explicit move towards greater emphasis on providing family support when there is concern about a child's welfare. Child welfare organisations in Australia have also recognised the need to refocus services to vulnerable children and families. This changed agenda is based on the idea that reduction in the incidence of factors that can lead to child and family dysfunction requires a coherent system that can meet the diverse needs of families (and their children) as early as possible. The overarching framework for such a strategy adopts holistic, integrated and child-centered approaches.
Experience suggests that effective assessment is the foundation upon which to configure the effective delivery of services to children and families. Continuing previous research (1999) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies on the outcomes of the UK 'Looking After Children' approach in out of home care in Victoria, the author discusses the value of the UK Children in Need assessment framework for Victorian Family Services. This approach aims to provide effective and comprehensive services to vulnerable families as early as possible within a child focused service model.
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