The Evidence Portal

Child health and safety

Flexible activity

In this activity, parents are taught how to keep their children healthy and safe. This includes providing information and teaching skills about:

  • home hazards and how to reduce them
  • accident and injury prevention and the importance of supervision
  • how to identify and manage common health problems
  • appropriate medical decision making (e.g. when to go to the doctor vs. the emergency room). 
  • the importance of routine health care and immunisations
  • dietary requirements and nutrition
  • hygiene and bathing

It also includes supporting parents to:

  • establish a medical home for the child. A ‘medical home’ could be doctor or nurse who the family routinely sees and trusts. 
  • comply with scheduled immunizations and medical appointments

How can it be implemented?

Education on child health and safety can be provided in a number of different ways. The content taught should be tailored to the age of children. Parents of toddlers will need to learn and practice different strategies to parents of older children. 

You should use your professional judgement to determine what is most appropriate for your client/s.

Home visits

  • Sessions on child health and safety can be conducted in existing home visits with individual families. 
  • Sessions typically run weekly, for 60-90 minutes.  
  • Home visitation can last for 18-20 weeks. The frequency of visits and length of the program should be based on client needs. 

Clinic appointments + home visits

  • Clinic appointments can be combined with home visits. This can support families to engage with necessary medical visits and practices. 
  • The home visits can supplement the care given in the clinic. Practitioners can reinforce messages of medical practitioners and support families to adhere to medical advice.

Home visits + online learning:

  • Home visits can be combined with an online component.
  • Home visitors can structure their visits around the content in the online learning materials. 
  • Online component can include videos that teach/model newborn care techniques and how to respond to difficult infant behaviours. 

Provide resources

  • Provide families with tools and resources necessary to support their child’s health and safety. For example, infant choke tester devices, thermometers, health manual. 
  • Practitioners should ensure parents understand when and how to use these resources.

What should I consider when working with Aboriginal people and communities?

  • Parenting education needs to recognise unique kinship ties within Aboriginal communities. Also, the culture of parenting in an Aboriginal family may differ from that of non-Aboriginal families. This is why parenting education needs to be co-designed with Aboriginal and community stakeholders, and recognise the worldviews, practices and priorities of Aboriginal people.
  • Adopting a whole of organisation approach to cultural safety requires consideration of the policies and focus of the service, the physical location and environment, management and governance systems, human resources, and organisational processes.  Cultural safety should be embedded into the organisation’s way of working and not be an add-on element of practice.

See the Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review for more information.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • Parents with children under 2 years old
  • Families with at least one child 12 years of age or younger
  • Families at risk of child abuse and neglect
  • Teenage mothers are risk of maltreating their children
  • First time mothers

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program works with teenage mothers. In home visits, mothers are given instructive material about well and sick childcare. 
  • In the Hawaii Healthy Start Program, home visitors ensure the child has a medical home. 
  • The Healthy Families America program promotes optimal health and development by supporting healthy behaviours, improving compliance with scheduled immunisations and well child visits. They also ensure safety in the home and secure a ‘medical home’ for the child.  
  • In the e-Parenting Program parents participate in sessions about ‘home safety and accident prevention’ and ‘appropriate medical decision-making’. Home visitors also provide infant choke tester devices, thermometers, and an infant health manual were also provided to families.
  • In the New Zealand Early Start program home visitors work with families to ensure timely medical visits for common childhood morbidities, ensure families comply with immunisation and well childcare checks, and work with families to reduce and/or prevent unintentional injuries and poisoning.
  • In the Nurse Family Partnership program, home visitors work with parents to improve their understanding of the infant’s physical health care needs, such as dietary requirements, bathing, how to take the baby’s temperature and manage common health problems, and the need for routine health care and immunisations. 
  • In the Parent Aide Services and Case Management program, home visitors target child safety by addressing home hazards. Visits are up to twice per week for about 1 year.
  • The Parents Under Pressure Program includes a module designed to help parents to check their child is healthy. It discusses health, hygiene and nutrition. 
  • Safecare+ has two modules dedicated to child health and home safety. The child health module targets risk factors for medical neglect. The Home Safety module targets risk factors for environmental neglect and unintentional injury. 

Further resources

Last updated:

20 Feb 2023

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Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

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