How Southwark Plans to Implement a Strengths-Based Parenting Tool for Professionals
Launching a project in the middle of a pandemic has its challenges. Having had their soft launch in March 2021, Southwark now plans to have an official launch this September to support social workers and Early Years practitioners engage with communities in the borough.
Setting the Scene in Southwark
Laura Feeney, Transformation and Delivery Manager in Southwark’s Children Services, expresses that London boroughs have a lot of opportunities for community development and they are fortunate enough to have funding available. Southwark runs a plethora of community projects and play activities for children which are organised by statutory and non-statutory services. This provides lots of options for engaged families to take part in with their young children. However, some families still find it difficult to access the universal offer.
For families who have a different approach to parenting, the universal offer activities available to them may not seem appealing, or they may be unfamiliar with the approach. Sometimes due to the fact that the professional and the parent or carer do not have a shared understanding of what play and support look like. To address this issue, Southwark plans to implement 50 Things To Do Before You’re Five as an additional tool for social workers and Early Years practitioners to use when working with a family.
“A lot of the activities on the app are about good parent-child communication which is key! That’s a great strength of the 50 Things app which we will be adopting.” Laura Feeney, Southwark 50 Things Lead
To build on the borough’s aim to support unengaged families, the Southwark team plans to focus on how parent-child communication can lead to a number of childhood developmental outcomes.
“With communication, people tend to over-simplify it to just talking. But of course it isn’t. Communication is so much wider and broader than that - the activities on the app help us understand that” Laura conveys. This is especially important for children who are under the age of two. Most often described as ‘pandemic babies’, they have spent most of their lives indoors with limited interaction outside of their immediate family. Experts worry that they will carry this collective trauma for many years to come. 50 Things will also be part of a strategy being developed for the under-twos.
How will Southwark’s team address their children’s needs?
Part of a multi-faceted program, the Southwark team’s official launch aims to deliver a targeted approach whilst being thoughtful and reflective about how professionals interact with families. 50 Things To Do Before You’re Five will help social workers and Early Years practitioners in Southwark have more practical ideas that they can easily explain to parents and carers, with a shared understanding of what ‘strengths-based parenting’ is. The big launch event on the 24th of September will demonstrate a selection of the 50 Things activities to social workers, early years practitioners, health visitors, school nurses and children and family centres.
“It’s helpful on the app how it guides you through an activity in quite a lot of detail. It doesn’t leave the parent going ‘Well, it says play with sand? What do I do with sand?’” Laura explains how her team wants to showcase how professionals, alongside the parent, will work together to focus on activities suitable for their children. Future visits by the social worker will focus on assessing what works and what they can improve on.
Future hopes for 50 Things
With plans already in place, Southwark’s team hopes to have a successful launch, for professionals to embrace what 50 Things has to offer, and importantly what it can do for a child’s development. As well as this, Laura Feeney expresses the borough’s long term goal of building good communications and relationships between parent and child using 50 Things.