Application: Action Plan 3: Addressing Maltreatment—The Role of Early Childhood Professionals
Last week, you explored a variety of influences on parenting practices and styles, including instances when children are subjected to maltreatment defined as: “intentional harm to or endangerment of a child” (Berns, 2013, p. 144). This week, you focused on the role of early childhood programs in the lives of young children and families. One responsibility of early childhood educators, as well as any professional who works with young children and their families, is to be aware of requirements for responding to suspected child maltreatment and to support children and families to try to prevent child maltreatment. This Action Plan will help you gain information and ideas to do both.
Action Plan Professional Scenario: Imagine that you are an early childhood professional who has recently moved to the state where you are currently working. You know that it is your responsibility to be aware of state child maltreatment regulations. You also want to be prepared to recognize, intervene, and if at all possible, try to prevent child maltreatment.
Before you create your Action Plan together, consider:
- What you need to know about mandated reporting procedures in your state
- What ideas and advice from experts can be useful in supporting children who may be at risk for abuse or are victims of abuse, as well as nonabusive adults in a household
- What you must do in terms of reporting suspected abuse and what you realistically can do to help a child and family
Follow these steps to create your Action Plan.
1. What You Need to Know: Learning About the Reporting Procedures in Your State
States vary in detailing “mandated reporters” as well as official procedures for reporting. Visit the Prevent Child Abuse America Web site to find out the regulations in your state*: http://pcadb.cyberwoven.com/public/chapters/index.cfm
At this site, click on your state, then click on the URL. Take notes on the following:
- The “mandated reporters” in your state (if your state has many mandated reporters, list those who work or interact with young children and note there are “others” as well)
- The official state procedure for reporting child maltreatment
*If you are unable to locate information for your state at this Web site, check your state board of education’s Web site, or do a Web search, for specific guidance and requirements for reporting child abuse in your state.
2. Ideas and Advice: Checking Resources
According to the NAEYC, early childhood educators are in a unique position to support children and families and, through these efforts, play a critical role in addressing the needs of children who are at risk for abuse and neglect.
Review the “Supporting Parents and Preventing Child Maltreatment” article. Also review at least one other of the following resources.
- Helping Children Thrive: Supporting Woman Abuse Survivors as Mothers (PDF)
Review the “For Service Providers” sections (see the Index for pages).
- Promoting Effective and Nurturing Parenting (PDF)
- Building Circles, Breaking Cycles—Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: The Early Childhood Educator’s Role (PDF)
Take notes on specific ideas and strategies that you, as an early childhood professional, would feel comfortable with and capable of using with children and families.
3. Taking Action: Addressing Child Maltreatment to Support Children in Need
With knowledge and ideas in hand, you’re ready to take action. Organize your Action Plan in two parts, to ensure you cover your two key roles—as a mandated reporter if you suspect abuse, and as an advocate concerned with the well-being of the children and families with whom you work.
Part I: How to Report Suspected Child Abuse in [Your State]
In your own words, explain the procedure for reporting suspected child abuse in your state. List the following:
- Criteria to use for determining when abuse may be present and a report must be made
- Steps to follow in making a report
Part II: Strategies for Helping Children and Families
Based on the resources, think about the kinds of needs families that have experienced abuse or are at risk for abuse may have in each of the following areas:
- Knowledge of child development and positive parenting practices
- Information on available community resources
- Reassurance for children and nonabusive parents
Then, for each area, explain:
- A specific need that a parent or child may have
- Two specific strategies or suggestions you could use or recommend for addressing that need
As you write your plan:
- Choose strategies that you as an early childhood professional would have the skill and influence to implement.
- Think about how you present ideas and suggestions to families. Be supportive and nonjudgmental in the language you use.
Assignment length: 2–3 pages
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