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Fammily Support and Community Development

Autor:   •  November 7, 2018  •  2,121 Words (9 Pages)  •  23 Views

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involved in social networks which, in turn, can lead to greater interpersonal trust and effective collective action’. (Bagley, C., Ackerley, C. L. & Rattery, J., 2004). Moreover, Social Capital has been a suggested theory for community development (Dolan et al, 2006). It is concerned with measuring trust between individuals and networks. (Bagley, C., Ackerley, C, L., 2006).

Guiding Principles

The comparison of the guiding principles are very similar of Community Development approaches and Family Support Principles . For instance, Community Development seek to work collectively and in partnership. Also, Community Development is participatory and family support is needs-led involving service users. Moreover, the community development approach of empowerment compliments the family support principle of strengths based practice. Although, community development is concerned with the process and task more so than outcomes. The Family support principle of service provision does seek to ensure accessibility and is flexible. Furthermore, these approaches and principles seek to improve quality of life for all people in the community and promotes social inclusion i.e. ethnic minority groups. In addition, to Community Development confronting prejudice and the promotion of anti-discriminatory practice in family support, it seeks equality. Family support practice strengthens informal social networks (Dolan et al, 2006).

Practice example

Lifestart was the agreed service provision for community based family support for parents in County Leitrim. The aim of Lifestart is to achieve better outcomes for children. This is done by sharing knowledge and evidence-based information with parents on how young children grow and learn. This work is done in partnership with communities and other organisations. Community Development provides the environmental context in which Family Support Practice can operate.

Participation was facilitated at all stages of the Lifestart project; predevelopment, planning, implementing the project, monitoring and evaluation. Research (needs led analysis) conducted on behalf of Leitrim Development Company had highlighted a gap in services for a large number of new parents living in an isolated area of the county. Consultation with the community involved agencies, parents, community groups, and the County Childcare Committee. They were best placed to ‘design services that were responsive to local priorities and needs’ (Gardner, 2003). The government have set the goals to tackle social disadvantage and set the framework. This has led to empowering local parents by active participation and partnership in decisions regarding in the planning, administration and delivery of local early years services to help combat the social problems (Bagley. et al, 2006).

A Lifestart project visit took place to existing national projects including Donegal, to see a successful project in operation. Some of the participants were met and shared information of the benefits of the programme. In conjunction with service providers including public health nurses assisted to identify potential families, and those most in need of the service. Equality was promoted by the service, as it was open to all parents or carers of children from birth to five years of age, in the community. Workers induction training focused on community participation and links with other services. Staff were all parents themselves with an understanding of community development and family support practice. Some were recruited from a community social scheme entitled the Job Initiative programme which was a scheme to enable people to work in their community. Subsequent staff that were recruited in later years are fully funded by the state, (Tusla, Child and Family Agency, 2014). Therefore, the maintenance of the service provision is financially dependent on the state.

The project was managed by Leitrim Development Company, with a licenced agreement with Lifestart. A sub committee was formed to oversee the project. This consisted of members of Leitrim Development Company, County Child Care Committee, Community Development Workers, and Public Health Nurse, Tusla and parents representatives. This ensures a voice for parents at decision making level.

The project is located in the community and is accessible. Moreover, the office base is in a community development setting with Leitrim Development Company. This promotes the service provision, as it is less stigmatising than statutory services. It is free of charge, voluntary, facilitates multi-referral pathways including parents self-referral.

Structure of Support Provided by Lifestart

Parent is seen as primary educator and the home as the learning environment.

Parent and family visitor work together and are guided by the Growing Child Programme.

Every six months, the child’s developmental miles stones are reviewed.

Reflective practice is promoted and one of the main areas of work is on the parent’s nurturing practices. These include model play and age appropriate learning activities. Furthermore, goals are set for further development and learning. In addition, any problems or concerns are discussed and followed up with referral or sign posting to the required services. Key characteristic of the service is the long-term supporting and trusting relationship, between family visitor and the parent. Family visitors provide additional sessional interventions as appropriate i.e. communication, promoting positive behaviour, toilet learning, food and nutrition.

While the primary focus of Lifestart is for the child to develop and reach their full potential, the approach is focused on supporting and empowering the parent as the primary educator.

From time to time, training is provided on request for parents, building their capacity as primary educators of their children. Networking is also an important element of the programme, linking parents to other required services and other parents. Many access other community based services including local parent and toddler groups etc. Evidenced based outcomes from this programme for parents, impacts positively on their children. These include increased parenting skills, knowledge competence leading to better self- esteem and enhanced well-being (Mc Clenaghnan,P, 2012).

In conclusion, the government have set the goals to tackle social disadvantage and set the framework. This requires that all services, statutory, voluntary


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