The child and family in context - Developing ecological practice in disadvantaged communities

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By Owen Gill and Gordon Jack

Large format paperback, 176 pages

Published 2007

This book's evidence and case studies, drawn from lives in disadvantaged communities, illustrate way of delivering innovative food practice that will be helpful to anyone concerned about the welfare of children, young people and families in those communities.

As valuable to readers who have some familiarity with the emerging concepts of 'ecological practice' as it will be those who may be new to the term, it focuses on the whole child, recognising the links between different parts of their lives, and working creatively with these connections. Such practice developments are especially timely in the UK in the context for Every Child Matters, Integrated Children's Centres and Extended Schools. The authors explore this context to draw out lessons that can inform practice everywhere, and in evolving policy contexts.

The approach is underpinned by full reference to the work over many years of research who have focused on the 'ecology' of childhood, in fields such as child development and mistreatment, you offending and child poverty. I this, the child is seen as part of a number of interconnected systems, including the family, social networks, schools, and the local community. Such thinking about children's lives has also underpinned recent frameworks for assessing the needs of children and young people, as well as major preventative and early intervention initiatives, such as Sure Start, the Children's Fund, and On Track.

The authors show applying these research and practice developments in all relevant areas of practice can help: > hearing the voices of the children, young people and parents in their community context

  • working jointly with families and communities to safeguard children and young people and promote their well-being
  • working with communities to increase support for parents and produce better for all concerned
  • developing the approaches of all work done not only by children's trust agencies, but also by others that impact a child's ecology, including safety, housing, planning and regeneration
  • integrating the participation of children and young people into all such work

Their book will appeal to busy practitioners, service managers, those involved in organisational and policy aspects, as well as to researchers, lecturers and students. It addresses:

  • children of different ages and genders
  • children living within white, black and minority ethnic, dual heritage and refugee families
  • disabled children and young people. It covers many of the community contexts within which they are living, including: inner-city neighbourhoods - rural towns - peripheral housing estates and coastal towns

Anyone working with children and families in communities, plus lecturers, students and researchers in those areas of practice, which include: social work - school and community nursing - family support - education - youth work - child and adolescent psychiatry an psychology - community work - neighbourhood regeneration and planning - community safety - housing.

Owen Gill has worked with families in a wide range of different settings, including rural and inner city communities. He is currently anti-poverty co-ordinator for Barnado's South West.

Gordon Jack has been involved in social work practice and research with children and families and is currently Reader in Social Work at Durham University.

Together, they are the authors of The Missing Side of the Triangle (Barnado's 2003).


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