Social Action with Children and Families: A Community Development Approach to Child and Family Welfare

By Chris Warren; Crescy Cannan | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

New social networks for families and children in Germany

Annemarie Gerzer-Sass and Rudolf Pettinger

EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION

This chapter describes family self-help centres in Germany. Self-help traditionally has an important place in German social policy; while selfhelp organisations are as diverse in Germany as elsewhere, those described here have emerged from a movement of parents. This movement has its origins in the 1968 student revolt against rigid, uncreative norms and practices in the care and education (the German term pedagogy includes both these areas) of children and young people. In Chapter 4, Crescy Cannan refers to the parallel parents’ movement in France.

Family self-help centres then introduce not just the principles of parent participation or self-management in a pluralistic welfare state, but challenge professional theories and empower parents. This chapter describes the ways in which lay and professional workers have been able to find ways of working together while becoming much more responsive to local needs. These are mainly for flexible day care for children, including those of school age, for opportunities for building social networks, for informal education, and for a child-friendly public environment. As in the UK, preventive family support lies at the centre of the recent (1990) Children and Young People Act, whose significance for the self-help movement is discussed.


FAMILIES CALL FOR SELF-HELP INITIATIVES

In West Germany in the last fifteen years something new has supplemented the traditional axis of family policy: families as receivers of family policy measures are speaking up for themselves in the founding of projects, for example: mother, family and neighbourhood centres, parents’ initiatives, or mother and children groups.

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