Department of Women and Children’s Health, Uppsala University – “Barnsäkert”

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Early action when children are small is the best way to influence children’s health and development in a positive direction – even small effects on an individual level can lead to change on a societal level over time. For many years, a screening form has been used at child healthcare centers in Sweden for the early identification of mothers who have developed, or are at risk of developing, post-natal depression, so that the right help and support can be provided. Research has shown that depression is also common among fathers, but they are seldom screened in a preventive capacity. Depression, substance abuse, domestic violence and parental stress (for example, regarding the state of the family’s finances) are some of the risk factors that increase the risk of neglect and abuse of children.

REACH is a multidisciplinary research group at the Department of Women and Children’s Health at Uppsala University that is working to improve women and children’s health in Sweden and internationally. This research has a mainly clinical approach and aims to develop methods that can help care professionals to promote children’s health, prevent ill health and identify problems at an early stage, making it possible to offer appropriate help and action. The “Barnsäkert” project is a collaboration between REACH and the central child healthcare organizations in Uppsala and Dalarna.

Barnsäkert’s objective is to test and evaluate the Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model to see whether it can contribute to preventing child abuse by identifying early psychosocial risk factors in the child’s home environment and providing relevant support and assistance to the family. Selected child healthcare centers in Dalarna county will use the SEEK screening form when parents are visiting and, when necessary, refer them for the right support and assistance. The results will be followed up over several years to see if it makes any difference.