The history, guiding principles, process and evaluation results of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of London Middlesex.
The Middlesex-London Community Plan was developed in 2001 in response to the recommendations of the Jury Inquest into the death of five week old Jordan Heikamp who died of chronic starvation in a Toronto shelter for abused women. Key to the recommendations was the need to prioritize infant needs in service delivery and establish strong and effective inter-agency collaboration around service coordination and planning to promote the optimal safety, growth and development of infants under the age of 24 months who had been identified as living in high risk environments. It was a way of trying to ensure that no more babies fell through the cracks in the system and supported accountability of service providers to work in the best interests of infants and their caregivers.
The paramount guiding principle for the community plan is the recognition that the safety and well being of the infant takes precedence over any other client consideration in the delivery of service. Service delivery partnerships and ongoing communication of each partner’s intervention are essential to ensure the safety and well-being of infants. It is critical to strengthen and support the parent/caregiver’s ability to nurture the infant in a manner that promotes optimal growth and development. The parent/caregiver’s strengths should be built upon and community supports provided in a coordinated manner. Interventions must be respectful of parent/caregiver’s culture, religion, background, traditions, and their physical, mental and developmental status. Services are to be coordinated and duplication kept to a minimum. Access for infants and parent/caregivers to appropriate services and supports is a paramount consideration. An information management system based on partnership must be respectful of confidentiality.
Participating service providers collaborate to develop a community plan for addressing the identified risks. The service provider who identifies an infant at risk assumes responsibility for initiating the community plan process as the Interim Community Plan Coordinator. He or she identifies other service providers working with the family, determines the family’s needs and supports, mobilizes local services and resources required immediately and initiates the first Community Plan Conference. If the Children’s Aid Society is involved with the family the ongoing social worker assumes the role of Community Plan Coordinator Role. All participants in the Community Plan Conference, including caregivers, review their service plans and contribute to the information sharing, strategy development and creation of a collective intervention plan. Goals are set with identifiable outcomes. Subsequent community plan conferences are held at regular intervals to review strengths and gains and set new goals. When it is determined by members of the Community Plan Team that the infant is no longer living in a high-risk environment, a meeting is organized to terminate the community plan process. The service providers review the goals that have been achieved and articulate why the infant is no longer considered at high risk.
A project pilot was conducted in 2003 and an evaluation completed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit. The evaluation found that there was strong value in the Community Plan process for improving care for infants living in high risk environments through:
- Increased integration and coordination of services.
- Effectiveness of educational efforts orienting staff to the Community Plan
- Improved inter-agency collaboration
- Better and more effective mobilization of community resources
- Increased accountability of service providers
- Better outcomes for infants and their caregivers through service partnerships and in-house Train-the-Trainer support:
- 83% of participants gained strong skills for responding to infants in high risk environments
- 94% felt confident that they had the skills and knowledge to participate in the Community Plan protocol.
Brochure for Service Providers – Covers the role of the service coordinator, tips for holding a community plan meeting, and when to terminate the plan.
Brochure for Clients – Explains the community plan purpose and its goals.
Community Plan Screening Questionnaire – Questionnaire used to access risk for infants living in high risk environments.
Community Plan Prenatal Checklist – Questionnaire used to access prenatal risk of infants living in high risk environments.
Community Plan Training Powerpoint – Covers the story of Jordan Heikamp, overview of the community plan, identification of risk, duty to report, community plan process, and roles and responsibilities of the plan coordinator.
Jeffrey Baldwin Inquest Reports – Recommendations following the death of Jeffrey Baldwin, a Toronto child abused and neglected by his grandparents.