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Applying Community Capacity-Building Approaches to Child Welfare Practice and Policy

NCJ Number
Shaun Lohoar; Rhys Price-Robertson; Lalitha Nair
Date Published
15 pages
In examining whether or not the field of community capacity-building can improve child welfare practice and policy in Australia, this paper outlines the concept of community capacity and uses real-life examples to illustrate the ways in which service providers might apply community capacity-building approaches in their work with children and families.
For the purposes of this paper, a "community" is viewed as "any existing or potential network of individuals, groups, and organizations that share or have the potential to share common concerns, interests, and goals" (Bush and Dower, 2003). Community capacity-building is an effort to increase a given community's capacity to solve its collective problems. It is being increasingly recognized that the welfare of children and families is largely dependent on the health of the community in which they live. A community that gives priority to the development of programs and services that enhance child and youth development as well as the effectiveness of parenting contributes to the health and well-being of families who benefit from these community-based efforts. Child welfare agencies that do not recognize the importance of community resources tend to adopt a narrow approach in coordinating the features of family interventions. There are many examples of individual service providers who have strengthened community capacity to serve disadvantaged children and their families. This paper provides examples of such practices with the intent to motivate child welfare agencies and practitioners to allocate resources and personnel to community capacity-building as a means of expanding the community resources that can benefit disadvantaged children and their families. In Australia, this effort is being advanced through the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 and the Communities for Children initiative. 1 table and 54 references