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Building Supportive Infrastructure to Support Families of Young Children A Community-Based Approach Helen Francis Frank Tesoriero Association of Children’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Supportive Infrastructure to Support Families of Young Children A Community-Based Approach Helen Francis Frank Tesoriero Association of Children’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Supportive Infrastructure to Support Families of Young Children A Community-Based Approach Helen Francis Frank Tesoriero Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies Conference 2010 Building a Child Friendly Australia: Responding to Vulnerable Families Sydney 2-4 August 2010

2 This paper is dedicated to the memory, and honours the work of Phyllis Crittenden and Joylene Crouch two of our Communities for Children team members whose significant contributions to the program inspired so many others to aim towards transformation and a strong and supportive community for children and families in the Murray Mallee. Dedication

3 Paper outline 1.Introduction 2.The Communities for Children program 3.Underpinning principles/concepts i.Capacity building ii.Collaboration 4.Collaborative Learning strategy 5.Effectiveness 6.Conclusion

4 C4C Murray Mallee, South Australia Callington Introduction

5 Aim to increase the capacity of communities and services to support families of children 0-5 years of age Approaches early intervention community capacity building creating a sense of place and space for families providing information accessible to families and the broader community Introduction

6 Collaborative Learning– a key and deliberate capacity building strategy providing opportunities for agencies to gain new knowledge in a spirit of collaboration The paper explores the impact of Collaborative Learning beyond the life of the project – longer term, sustained changes in the capacity of service providers, individually and collectively as a network, to support families of young children the strategy’s underlying concepts of capacity building and collaboration Introduction

7 Communities for Children program Communities for Children in the Murray Mallee comprised the following: Valuing Fathers; Kindy for Kids; Pathways for Families; and Child Friendly Communities Collaborative Learning

8 Communities for Children program All the Program’s strategies built on the strengths of families and developed connections between families, their children and the wider community. Enabled families to participate in community life and ultimately to feel, and to be, valued by and connected to their community. Crucial to achieving these community aims were the notions of partnerships and collaboration between services, businesses, government and community. Services, businesses and government agencies must themselves have the capacity to engage in strategies which lead to community capacity outcomes, so… The collaborative learning strategy aimed to: build the understanding of effective ways to engage with families; develop an understanding how to develop community capacity; understand how to build integrated, collaborative and coordinated approaches to responding to child, family and community issues.

9 Underpinning principles/concepts Capacity building Collaboration

10 Capacity building “the ability of a collective to act in particular ways and its ability to do things to help promote and sustain its well being and within it, the wellbeing of its individuals, networks and organisations.”

11 Collaboration …an attitude, a set of values and a way of being. Genuine collaboration and leadership within genuine collaboration involves relationships between equals – one where all are respected and valued and where differences are embraced as positive resources. Collaboration is not simply a way of problem solving. It engages the collaborators in a dialogue which opens up possibilities, exposes questions, constructs complexities and reflectively proceeds

12 Collaborative Learning strategy comprised a range of educational opportunities, including ‘lunchbox sessions’ and reflective practice sessions entailed bringing a wide range of resource people to the Murraylands holding sessions at the most accessible times topics covered were those that people had expressed a need to learn more about and so the program emerged from local needs.

13 Collaborative Learning strategy Two central aspects Bringing resource people to the community enabled knowledge to be widely shared Reflective practice enabled deep learning and sharing of learning

14 Effectiveness Increased worker confidence and increased family confidence in workers C4C context of collaborative learning enabled mutual reinforcing of learning and core values Locally based sessions increased access for more, enhanced shared learning and showed that workers were valued

15 Effectiveness Enabled shared knowledge and assumptions across diverse workers and agencies Strengthened mutual support and forged new relationships The many differences amongst workers were “levelled” out

16 Effectiveness Inclusive, building a culture of ‘community’ amongst workers All workers were valued and affirmed processes were important – sessions which were interactive and reflective In a rural setting, not a luxury but a vital part of professional development

17 Effectiveness Sense of well being, potency Building on strengths Diverse people coming together Developing collective strategies for change Processes of dialogue owned by participants Reaching beyond conventional agency boundaries Impact on agency cultures

18 Conclusions Collaborative learning a significant component of an overall approach to collaborative work and building community capacity Reinforced, support, initiate, complement work practices Specially important in a rural context Led supportively, increased strength and commitment in worker relationships

19 Conclusions For sustainability over time Must be embedded in a wider context of collaborative work amongst diverse workers The importance of collaboration (over and above coordination etc) must be understood and appreciated by agency management

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