There is widespread agreement on the role of universal child and family health services in identifying health needs within the family in order to provide families with support as early as possible. This reflects the evidence about the complex interaction of risk and protective factors that influence a child’s health, wellbeing and development and an acknowledgement of the social determinants of health. All universal child and family health services should have a system in place for early identification to:
- identify the factors known to increase the likelihood of a child experiencing poorer health, development and wellbeing outcomes in later childhood and adult life or factors which protect a child from poor outcomes;
- work with parents, families and communities to address health and development needs and minimise the impact of parent, child, family and community risk factors;
- identify the factors indicative of child abuse and neglect and refer or report appropriately; and
- facilitate support for children and families across multiple services (for example, health, education, housing).