Dr Jenn McIntosh best described what Child Inclusive Practice is in a resource published by the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse:
“At its core, child-inclusive practice is a process of developmental consultation and therapeutic conversation. The primary goal of the child-inclusive model is to re-establish and maintain a secure emotional base for the child post-separation.”
Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) requires the involvement of two highly skilled professionals: The FDR Practitioner, who works with the parents in the resolution of the dispute; and a specially trained child consultant who meets with and assesses the child and provides the mediator and parents with feedback. It is best if different people undertake the role, particularly where neutrality is important or conflict/complexity is high.
The goals of child-focused (child-inclusive) FDR are to:
- Create an environment that supports disputing parents in actively considering the unique needs of each of their children;
- Facilitate a parenting agreement that preserves significant relationships and supports children’s psychological adjustment to the separation, including recovery from parental acrimony and protection from further conflict;
- Focus parents on the needs of the children;
- Support parents to leave the dispute resolution forum on higher rather than diminished ground with respect to their post-separation parenting. It also ensures that the ongoing mediation/litigation process and the agreements or decisions reached, reflect the basic psycho-developmental needs of each child—to the extent that they can be known without the involvement of the children.