Addressing cumulative harm: responding to chronic child maltreatment in the context of an intensive family support service

Collier, Simone and Bryce, India ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3616-8003 (2021) Addressing cumulative harm: responding to chronic child maltreatment in the context of an intensive family support service. Journal of Children's Services, 16 (3). pp. 249-266. ISSN 1746-6660


Abstract

Purpose
Adverse childhood experiences that are consistently experienced over a sustained period of time throughout childhood result in an accumulation of childhood adversity, which is often referred to in the literature as cumulative harm. This paper aims to closely examine statutory child protection practice, which favours an episodic and incident-focused approach to assessing risk and harm, failing to account for the evaluation of the accumulation of adversity and harm, commonly experienced by children exposed to maltreatment. The paper defines an existing gap in practice frameworks to adequately identify and respond to the accumulation of adversity.

Design/methodology/approach
Drawing on practice experiences in Queensland Australia, the paper examines service delivery responses to cumulative harm in the context of the Intensive Family Support model of service delivery.

Findings
Within current frameworks for child protection service delivery, there is no method of assessing the diverse and cumulative effects of ongoing chronic child maltreatment and adversity, despite research confirming that cumulative harm very often co-occurs with other child protection concerns. To effectively and collaboratively intervene in matters of chronic and cumulative abuse and neglect, practitioners and stakeholders must be guided by frameworks and assessments that accurately recognise and acknowledge the impact of ongoing exposure to adverse experiences and maltreatment.

Research limitations/implications
The need for a valid and reliable assessment method that draws together all elements contributing to the chronic maltreatment experience for a child and family: multiplicity, diversity and severity.

Social implications
Practice solutions tailored to each child’s specific cumulative experiences of adversity and maltreatment will promote better social, emotional and health outcomes across the lifespan.

Originality/value
This paper highlights a significant gap in assessment and practice frameworks and advances the impetus for cumulative harm to be proactively integrated into social care and service delivery.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published online: 6 July 2021. Permanent restricted access to ArticleFirst version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2021 06:20
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 06:04
Uncontrolled Keywords: assessment; harm; accumulated; cumulative; maltreatment
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4409 Social work > 440902 Counselling, wellbeing and community services
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940105 Children's/Youth Services and Childcare
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2301 Community services > 230104 Children's services and childcare
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JCS-10-2020-0058
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/42648

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