Compulsory participation in a child protection and family enhancement program: Mothers' experiences

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Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2012, 41 (1), pp. 101 - 110
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A wide range of statutory and non-statutory child protection and family support services exist to prevent the occurrence or re-occurrence of maltreatment. They may be oriented towards primary, secondary or tertiary levels of prevention, employ various types of professional and/or paraprofessional workers, and target a diverse range of groups. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of parents who were directed by child protection authorities to attend a tertiary level child protection and family enhancement program. In depth unstructured interviews were used to gather data about these parents' experience. Thematic content analysis of these transcripts identified four major themes as follows: 1) It's a good place to be: Participation as an affordable social outlet; 2) Learning about kids: Participation as a source of learning; 3) They are there for me: Participation as a source of practical help and support; and, 4) I am a good mother: Participation as a source of tension and conflict. Participants' perceptions of friendship with workers emerged as the most significant and valued aspect of their experience. These feelings of friendship were tested when staff undertook their mandatory reporting role. Feelings of betrayal arose that challenged the women's previous unconditional feelings of trust, and jeopardized the therapeutic relationships that had been established. © eContent Management Pty Ltd.
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