What is the Team Response to Child Abuse Investigations?
The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is a key component of the collaborative response to child abuse cases. MDTs are composed of professionals across several fields that work together to provide support, services, and healing.
Teams should include members from across professional fields, including child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, medical, mental health, advocacy, and other fields as defined by the team and/or community members.
First Steps to Develop a Shared Purpose and Practice
Once an MDT is convened, members should work together to develop guidelines to lead their collaborative response to child abuse and maltreatment allegations. The following questions are intended to assist members as they begin to draft their team guidelines.
What is the Working Definition of Our Team?
Early on, it’s essential for MDTs to consider the professional disciplines that should be part of their team. Certain disciplines – like those named above – are typically included in the MDT. However, teams have the ability to include additional community members and stakeholders that can help improve the overall supportive response provided to children and their families. The following questions are designed to help teams develop their membership:
- Is the team a group of specified individuals from a variety of agencies assigned to respond together to allegations of abuse (i.e., an investigation team)?
- Is the team a group of representatives of agencies working together cooperatively to manage interventions in child abuse cases (i.e., a screening team or one used for case consultation)?
- What is the purpose/philosophy of the team?
- What are the goals of the multidisciplinary intervention?
- Who are the members of the team?
- What agencies/interests are represented?
Team Involvement in Guidelines
All team members have a role in developing collaborative guidelines. Through group discussion, use these questions to begin identifying the role of group members in the process.
- Who (agencies/representatives/leadership) should be a part of drafting the team guidelines? Provide input? Offer suggestions?
- Who ultimately signs the guidelines from each agency?
- How will they be involved in the guidelines’ development process to ensure they fully support the final product?
- Will other agency service providers be able to offer input or feedback on the guidelines?
- When and how?