30 SEPTEMBER 2009
Children and young people in need of care are almost always dependent on adults to ensure safety and security, to receive a meaningful education, and to form social relationships that strengthen distinctive cultural identities and promote life opportunities. Community and extended family members - along with health, education and social service professionals who make care decisions - are particularly influential, especially when seeking to achieve positive outcomes for the futures of children and young people. Multi-disciplinary teamwork is essential to ensure that everyone is working together with purpose. This involves placing family/ kinship or sibling carers - as well as other designated carers - at the very centre of attention alongside children or young people receiving state-sponsored or voluntary care. Only in this way is it possible to thereby promote and deliver integrated services to society's most vulnerable members.
Children depend on adults from
Children depend on adults for safety and security, and for nurturing in them a sense of belonging. Birth mothers, sisters and female elders, as well as other of kin group members traditionally guarantee the safety and security of children - including birth fathers (whether present or not), older brothers, uncles and grandfathers. Children depend on adults for shelter, food and sustenance, and for life opportunities to engage in purposeful activities and play. Children and young people also depend on adults for education in life skills to become a contributing member of a household, family complex, neighbourhood, village and community. Life education in the 21st Century also includes meaningful formal education where children and young people depend on adults to provide education that is learner-centred and not just subject-centred. Children and young people need to
gain mastery of life skills and knowledge for meaningful life if they are to make independent contributions to their people and families. Children and young people also depend on adults for introduction to, as well as induction into social relationships through which they master life skills, acquire cultural identities and learn to demonstrate generosity as a contributing member of any social group (Brendtro, Brokenleg and Bockern, 1990).
Different adults claim purpose,
define needs and supervision rules
There is a purpose associated with identifying children's needs and requirements for supervision. From supervision over milestones of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development, to mastery of specific life skills needed to achieve positive adult standing in particular living groups, adults play significant roles in every culture, each claiming a designated purpose in the care and supervision of children and young people (Maier, 1987). Children's life stories touch the souls of child and youth care workers. While it is not uncommon for unknown adults to define 'needs' and 'supervision requirements' for children and young people deemed to require 'looking after' by the State, or in need of State sponsored 'out-of-home care', primary carers and family members want to know: Is our child safe now?
LEON C. FULCHER
Fulcher, L.C. (2009). Working together with purpose.
Child and Youth Care Work, 27, 4. p. 12.
Maier, H. W. (1987) Developmental group care of children and youth: Concepts and practice. New York: Haworth Press.