Child-focused approaches to complex problems – part one

Runtime 00:24:38
Released 23/1/23
Emerging Minds Podcast
Emerging Minds Podcast
Child-focused approaches to complex problems - part one

For the past five years, Emerging Minds has worked in partnership with Flinders University’s Social Work Innovation Research Living Space (SWIRLS) to develop a range of resources for health and social service workers. This includes a series of practice papers which support child-focused practices where children and families face disadvantage, trauma or adversity.

The SWIRLS practice papers examine the core skills which support practitioners to work positively with children and families who are facing multiple and complex problems. A structural approach allows for curious conversations with parents that examine the effects of disadvantage in their lives, while bringing into focus their capacity to ensure safety and wellbeing for their children.

In this episode, you will hear from Professor Sarah Wendt, Director of SWIRLS, and her team including Dr Kate Seymour, Kirsty Lowe and Nicola Trenorden. Sarah and the team discuss the effects of intergenerational disadvantage and substance use issues on children and families. They describe how a focus on parenting capacity can help to motivate change, while also allowing for honest and explicit conversations about concerns.



In this episode you will learn:

  • key messages for practitioners who want to work in child-focused and structural ways [2:40]
  • how an openness to exploring parenting capacity can help parents describe the hopes they have for their children and the ways in which they are fighting for them [7:25]
  • the importance of hearing the broader story of parents who are engaged in harmful substance use [13:28]
  • respectful and explicit ways to have direct conversations with parents about child safety [16:12]
  • ways to have conversations with parents about their challenges which focus on their own expertise, experience and resilience [22:12]


Further information and resources:

Child-focused approaches to complex problems – part two podcast (Emerging Minds)

Child-focused practice competencies: Structural approaches to complex problems practice paper (Emerging Minds)

Insights for social workers supporting families with complex needs literature review (Emerging Minds)

Child-focused practice in social work: Beginning the naming journey when family and domestic violence is present practice paper (Emerging Minds)

Child-focused work with families affected by domestic violence: Skills, values and knowledge requirements for social work students practice paper (Emerging Minds)

Child-focused social work practice in the context of family and domestic violence: Understanding the impact of male violence practice paper (Emerging Minds)

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