WDHB to appoint new child protection coordinator

2 April 2014
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has given Wanganui Hospital the green light to employ a child protection coordinator. It’s a move welcomed by WDHB head of paediatrics Dr David Montgomery and the WDHB’s Violence Intervention Programme (VIP) coordinator Barbara Charuk who called for the role to be established last year.
Dr Montgomery says the child protection coordinator position is an essential part of any DHB region’s child health service. “Responding to the needs of at-risk children and their families is an enormous challenge,” Dr Montgomery says. “Abuse and neglect are very prevalent in our society, and the response to these problems requires a coordinated approach.
“Whanganui DHB is part of a multi-agency network involving health, education, social welfare, justice, non- government organisations and the community, which aims to reduce the impact of child abuse and neglect on the wellbeing of children. 
“The role of the child protection coordinator is both strategic and practical. On a strategic level, the coordinator will build on the effective partnerships developed with the other agencies in order to improve the combined response to abuse and neglect. The coordinator will also improve and develop protocols, guidelines and pathways for use within the health sector, while providing education and support for clinical staff working with at risk children and their families. 
“Finally, the coordinator will be directly involved with case management of at-risk children and families, as part of the Child Protection Team. 
“We anticipate that the appointment of the child protection coordinator will bring about a substantial and permanent improvement in the lives of at-risk children. Children who are at risk of abuse and neglect will be identified earlier, and the practical steps taken to assist them to live without fear, violence and deprivation will be swift and effective. Clinical staff, who are at the coal-face of dealing with the effects of violence and neglect, will be supported through education, peer-support, and multi-agency co-operation. The other agencies working with at-risk children and their families will be supported by health more effectively in their work.”
Mrs Charuk says she’s delighted the DHB recognises it has a responsibility to provide frontline leadership, education and support to hospital staff who work with vulnerable children and their families.
“This involves identifying and acting on the factors that put a child at risk,” Mrs Charuk says. “Our focus is to identify risks and put steps in place to help families keep their children safe. While child abuse and neglect is a New Zealand-wide problem I’m very proud of the determination we have in the Whanganui community to address this issue head-on and the fact we have put systems and people in place to do this.”
“Our staff have been doing some wonderful work with families and now, the new role will help us streamline our child protection processes and formalise the DHB’s child protection team. Mrs Charuk says the part-time position (0.5 FTE to be jointly funded by the DHB’s Paediatric Services and the VIP programme) will be advertised from next week. It is hoped the successful applicant will be in place by late May.