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ISSN 1378-286X

Special issue: Cross-national dialogues on identifying effective interventions with vulnerable children and families

Guest editors: Marian Brandon, Patricia McNamara & Anat Zeira

Table of Contents and Abstracts

Editorial: Noticing and Helping the Neglected Child: Summary of a Systematic Literature Review Marian Brandon, Patricia McNamara & Anat Zeira

Discerning European perspectives on evidence-based interventions for vulnerable children and
their families
Hans Grietens

In this contribution I reflect upon European perspectives on evidence-based working with vulnerable children and families. Europe is presented as an open-ended construction and a mosaic of cultures, languages, and ethnicities. This is not without consequences for child and family welfare practice. I will bring into memory some recent milestones in this field, and show how the evidence-based practice paradigm entered the continent and is given form today. Evidence, however, is not an endpoint. I will try to go beyond evidence by outlining what an integrative perspective on care for vulnerable children and families could look like, what it may offer to Europe and what the role of Europe in developing policy and practice based on such a perspective may be.

Voices of Holocaust child survivors: learning how to foster resilience.
Marco Ius & Paola Milani

This paper reports on qualitative research about resilience processes in Holocaust child survivor especially those evident in hidden children. Data refers to 22 life stories collected through l semi-structured interviews and 3 published biographies. Collection and analysis of the life stories of people who experienced one or more traumatic events during the Holocaust (separation from birth family, hiding and parents’ deportation) has been carried out, employing a long term approach focused on major life trajectories. The central focus of the research has been to explore the developmental outcomes of these survivors across the life course. The main aim of the study was to identify the protective factors that enabled child survivors to develop and grow. It is argued that this knowledge might be applied by social workers and other helping professionals working with vulnerable children and families, in order to foster similar resilient responses.

Achieving safety, stability and belonging for children in out-of-home care: The search for ‘what
works’ across national boundaries
June Thoburn

Findings from a study of administrative data on children in formal out of home care in different jurisdictions in 14 countries are combined with an overview of the state of knowledge on outcomes for children in care, paying particular attention to children’s needs for a sense of belonging and family membership. The paper argues for the routine collection of robust administrative data on child welfare populations to complement summative (what works?) and formative (why does it work and with whom?) research studies. It concludes that, while much is to be gained by learning from apparently successful policies and interventions in other jurisdictions, care has to be taken to
ascertain that there is sufficient congruence between the welfare systems and routinely provided services, and the characteristics of the children served, in the 'originating’ and ‘importing’ states.

Residential youth care and treatment research: Care workers as key factor in outcomes?
Erik I. Knorth, Annemiek T. Harder Anne-Marie N. Huyghen, Margrite E. Kalverboer & Tjalling Zandberg

Residential child and youth care is not only the oldest but nowadays also one of the least ‘sexy’ forrns of assistance for children and young people in need. Among other things, questions have been raised as to the effectiveness of residential placements, especially in comparison with well-conceptualized non-residential alternatives. The empirical proof for the ascribed lack of effective-ness is small. Outcome studies indicate a moderate-high level of change, i.e. reduction of problem behaviour in children and young people.
It is likely that the care and assistance provided by group workers is a key factor in bringing about positive change, In this article we investigate care worker functioning, their job satisfaction and their working methods in this discipline. Our focus will be on the quality of the social interaction and the working relationship between child and care worker. Research points to the importance of this common treatment factor.
In addition to broadening the study of outcomes, in terms of both measurement type and time, we argue for a greater emphasis in research and practice on the status and personal characteristics of residential workers, partly in relation to the needs of children in their care.

Mapping the life space of children living in multi-problem families
Cinzia Canali & Tiziano Vecchiato

In this article we describe a new tool called “Map of Subjects and Resources" (MSR) and present findings from research in which this tool was applied to a group of multi-problem families with children. The MSR was developed as a response to the growing demand for assessment of the life space, with specific attention to relational and socio-environmental dimensions. One of the MSR's main goals is to offer an assessment tool that enables a detailed and comprehensive description of the child and family. Professionals (mainly social workers) can use this tool at different times to measure changes in involvement of people (family members, formal and informal workers, volunteers, and others) and organisations who might help to tackle the problems of the person or family in need. Through the findings, the article also highlights the challenges professionals face in
assessing potential within the individual and family life space.

Emotional PAIN relief for traumatised young people: Description of a tool for providing ‘Frst
aid plus’
Jenny Dwyer Annette Jackson, Raeleen McKenzie, & Margarita Frederico

This paper presents a tool that forms part of an emotional first aid approach to prevent or reduce escalation of emotional and behavioural difficulties for young people who are facing threatening situations and other overwhelming events. PAIN is an acronym designed to help workers, carers and young people learn and remember the value of: Predicting and Preparing; Acknowledging feelings; Informing and Nurturing and Noticing. It is not an intervention approach in itself but a tool to support those at risk of becoming increasingly dysregulated. It has been developed out of practice experience and informed by theories regarding development, attachment and trauma. It has been applied in a variety of settings including child protection, residential care, youth justice and primary health settings. This paper presents on the development, rationale and application of the tool and aims to encourage discussion regarding this and other approaches that emerge from practice.

Proving culture and voice works: Towards creating the evidence base for resilient aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander children in Australia
Muriel Bamblett, Jane Harrison & Peter Lewis

Since colonisation, the overt and covert forms of violence imposed on Australia’s First Peoples has created an environment which is socially toxic for their children. The challenge for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and family service agencies is to demonstrate that culturally based services, programs, policies and processes which enable self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and children will improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family service agencies are seeking to frame a methodology to create an evidence base which pays due respect to both Indigenous and Western forms of knowledge and practice. Such an approach requires creating culturally respectful hybrid systems of research and evidence gathering.