Building Stronger Communities with Children and Families

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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This book captures the essence of how communities that better support healthy child development can be built. It includes a look at key elements of the Australian Communities for Children initiative, using a collaborative approach that takes into account community, government and family. How can the voices of children be heard in decision-making processes that impact their futures? How can the avalanche of electronic games, the information superhighway, and social media be negotiated to support, educate and protect children living in an online world? What does it mean to use a whole of community approach to supporting families? How can government departments and non-government agencies work together with communities to provide the kind of support that effectively engages families, so that the quality of parenting improves and results in healthy child development? What strategies can be developed in early childhood and school settings to improve family functioning? How can the integration of fragmented services be improved? While these are undoubtedly diverse questions, this kind of holistic viewpoint is necessary if we are to redesign inadequate, siloed approaches and build family friendly urban villages that deliver improved outcomes for children.

Complex early childhood trauma often leads to recurring problems for generations with significant economic cost if there is no effective intervention. The current ‘merry go round’ of services risks the re-traumatisation and escalation of symptoms of those seeking help. If significant change is to be witnessed, relevant stakeholders need to make a concerted attempt to, first of all, listen to what children and families are saying, and then to implement the kinds of practices and policies that will adequately address their needs and aspirations. To do this, a well-trained workforce that understands the issues of holistic, trans-disciplinary and integrated work with children and families is required. Governments and services can’t do this alone. Most families are more influenced by peers and associates, and change needs to be galvanised across whole communities. A whole of community approach involves linking together a place-based combination of government, non-government and community initiatives to support families. Services need to consider how they can work with individuals and community groups to develop the kind of social environment that enables families to flourish. This is not an easy task, and, drawing on research and practical experience, this book looks at some of the key ingredients needed by those individuals and organisations who dare to attempt it.

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About the author

Karl Brettig is Manager of Salisbury Communities for Children, a community development initiative of the Australian Government facilitated by the Salvation Army at Ingle Farm in South Australia. In collaboration with interested child and family support stakeholders, he also convenes the Children Communities Connections Learning Network which brings together practitioners, policy makers and researchers to resource integrated and holistic support for children and their families. Karl is the co-editor (with Professor Margaret Sims) of Building Integrated Connections for Children their Families and Communities.

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Additional Information

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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Published on
Oct 5, 2015
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Best For
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Education / Parent Participation
Psychology / Developmental / Child
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Research and practice shows that many vulnerable children and families face more than one challenge and require more than one intervention. However our service system has evolved historically to deal with one thing at a time or to provide services from multiple sources. This lack of integration can have a devastating effect on some families where key information or warning signs are missed. Coronial and judicial inquiries constantly stress the negative impact of a ‘siloed’ approach to services. Many researchers, practitioners and policy makers have struggled to address this issue. This book has been compiled from a series of presentations given at the 2010 Children Communities Connections conference in Adelaide. Over 300 professionals from NGOs, state and federal departments and academics from all states in Australia attended and focused on three key ideas: what do we know about these families and children, what are we doing to help them and what could we do better. Papers covered a range of topics from neurobiology, to service redesign and family engagement. Here we have a snapshot of some of the most promising programs and research being undertaken in Australia. It provides a platform for starting conversations on the need to focus on the child and family in the context of their whole life, the need to cross service and professional boundaries and the need to change the way we as professionals do things to improve outcomes for families. It is a book that captures the challenges, the opportunities and the hope for the future. *Includes contributions from more than 40 practitioners, policy makers and researchers who work in community services, education and health for state, federal government and non government sectors.
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