Canadian Looking After Children Project (CanLAC)
The Canadian Looking After Children Project (CanLAC), based on the model developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, attempts to improve the outcomes of children and youth in care by improving the quality of state parenting that they receive.
This is achieved by building partnerships between the caregiver(s), child welfare worker, child or youth in care, biological family members and other important people in the child's or youth's life.
The CanLAC project is endeavouring to bring some of the successes that the British model has achieved to the Canadian population of children and youth in care by building upon the work that has been done in this country and elsewhere over the past several years. Looking After Children (LAC) as it originated in the UK, relies on a developmental model in which a child's progress is examined in a holistic way by examining 7 dimensions on a yearly basis through the use of the core LAC tool, the Assessment and Action Record (AAR).
The seven developmental dimensions are:
- Family and Social Relationships
- Social Presentation
- Emotional and Behavioural Development
- Self Care Skills
CanLAC is a strengths-based model that moves beyond harm reduction to maximizing well being; aiming for outcomes for children and youth in care that are similar to those of children and youth in the general population. At the core of CanLAC is an emphasis on promoting dialogue between the child/youth, caregiver, child welfare worker and other important partners in order to create a comprehensive and collaborative plan of care to guide and monitor the development of children and youth in care. Further, it allows for a systematic evaluation of child outcomes and interventions at an individual, organizational, and national level, through data aggregation. This allows for the development of national data regarding the experiences and outcomes of children and youth in care.
The core tool that the LAC model relies on is the Assessment and Action Record. This is a set of questions for a child/youth in care, a foster parent/caregiver, child welfare worker and other relevant people (i.e. birth parent, teacher, etc.) to complete, working together, to develop a clear picture of the child/youth's development. It highlights successes and progress as well as areas in which a child is struggling and could use additional support. It structures this dialogue to ensure that these areas of concern are dealt with systematically, with clear lines of accountability and clear timeframes (ie. who does what and when). It provides a yearly record of the child/youth's life experiences in care.