Collaboration of Child Protective Services and Early Childhood Educators: Enhancing the Well-Being of Children in Need
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionToros, Tart, Falch-Eriksen. Collaboration of Child Protective Services and Early Childhood Educators: Enhancing the Well-Being of Children in Need. Early Childhood Education Journal. 2021 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01149-y
This paper examines the role of interprofessional collaboration in the identification and reporting of a child in need. Such collaboration is especially important in the context of the global pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus disease of 2019, known as COVID-19. The child protection system must have the capacity and resources to respond to increased demands during this time, and early childhood educators serve as an essential link for child protective services in identifying and reporting a child in need. As an effective system to accomplish these two aims requires a working collaboration among its participants, Bronstein’s interdisciplinary collaboration model was used as a framework to interpret this practice. A small-scale qualitative study was conducted that included principals of nursery schools and child protection workers from one region in Estonia. Findings indicate that effective collaboration was believed to require communication and ongoing systematic relationship building. Collaboration in practice varied, as principals reported a high turnover rate for the child protection workers, which hindered the development of a working relationship and support for the process of noticing and thereby identifying a child in need. In contrast, child protection workers assessed collaboration more positively, recognizing the need to have a supportive system in place for nursery schools. Both groups of collaborators acknowledged the need to train teachers, particularly to conduct joint training exercises to foster a common understanding of the child in need and of the intervention process itself.