Objective: To ensure that children and parents feel that their interests are considered within their family and are able to set goals as a family for the benefit of all. The family provides positive experiences for all its members and new stresses are dealt with in a way which is not damaging to anyone within the family. In this way the family replaces negative cycles of interaction with a virtuous cycle which encourages the personal development of all family members.
What are the key elements of practice?
What we do and why:
- Work alongside the family in setting goals as a group which take into account and respond to everyone’s needs, balance personal vs. family priorities, and create shared hope and ambition within the family. The process allows family members to develop a clearer vision of the family they want to be, which in turn provides the motivation to acquire the skills they need, and helps them to begin interacting positively with their local communities and services.
- Facilitate shared decision-making within the family – e.g. how to spend money, ensuring that everyone in the family has a voice. Shared decision-making reinforces respect between family members.
- Facilitate and support decision-making whist avoiding giving direction. The family learns how to work independently of their key worker’s intervention to achieve shared family goals. The worker, in turn, demonstrates their confidence in the family’s ability to make their own decisions, which helps to develop the family’s belief in their own capacity.
- Help family members support each other’s development and achievements with awareness of each person’s individuality and developmental stage.
- Build a supportive network around the family – e.g. extended family members, neighbours and community services available to the family over time to help ensure the sustainability of the positive changes.
- Encourage families to access help from their communities, wider family and friendship networks and other local services. At this stage the family is becoming independent of our support and they will exercise decision making, problem-solving and communication without the guidance of their key workers.
- Resist the temptation to “improve” the ideas that families have, as learning now comes from their own experience in applying the insights they have gained through the entire process and by exploring what works among themselves.
There is considerable overlap with tools used for work with individuals on their purpose and goals, such as:
- Life skills
- Parenting skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Skills to manage sexual and reproductive health decisions
- Prioritising and setting goals
- Financial management skills
Case Study – Marcelo and Mauricio
Marcelo and Mauricio, then aged 11 and 9, were first met working on the streets collecting rubbish to sell. Their father, Paulo, was an alcoholic and chronically unemployed. Family relations were dominated by severe physical and psychological violence between Paulo and Maria José, the mother, with the two boys stuck in the middle. Maria José relied heavily on her children for emotional support and they were also solely responsible for generating income for the household. Marcelo lacked the capacity to sustain participation in any community-level activities and Maricio reproduced the violence he experienced at home in his interactions at school. However, with intensive support, Paulo started tackling his alcoholism and began to see the damage it was causing his family. They have since come a long way together and now have a shared vision of their past, present and future. Paulo is regularly in work and Maria José plays an active role in creating a positive home environment for her children. When the yearlong internship Marcelo had managed to secure in a public bank ended successfully, Maria José brought the family together to talk about how they could support him in his desire to finish high school. Now 17, Marcelo works part time and is doing the last year of secundary at evening school. Motivated by his family, he hopes to go on to university. Maruicio is making good progress at school and is able to manage his own behaviour much more effectively. The family now support one another in achieving individual and shared goals and in overcoming obstacles when they arise.