04 SES 16 D, Individualising Educational Interventions for Marginalised and at Risk Students
According to programs for international student assessment such as PISA, teachers are still facing the problem of educational success as a matter of social origin (Neuhauser et al., 2015; European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, 2010; OECD, 2010). Socio-economic and demographic variables (racial and ethnic identity, family income, geographical location, financial and emotional resources, and health and mental health status) impact the learning experience. Encouraging collaborative practices among teachers, social workers and other professionals involved in child development and well-being (including parents and children) provides opportunities and resources to support children with special needs living in a challenging life environment, especially in the case of child neglect.
Promoting collaboration among professionals is a valuable strategy to overlap the social and economic crisis that has invested our society and to improve the quality of services (Sennett, 2011; Dente, 2011). Research shows the impact of dialogical practices in terms of efficiency in the decision-making process (Crocker, 2008; Benhabib, 1996, Bakhtin, 1981) and their effects on social justice and equity (Santos, 2004; Cohen, 1997), but what happens in contexts, such as the social care system, that are characterized by a strong professional, epistemological and institutional hierarchy? How can collaboration be promoted among professionals involved in different organizations with their own language and bureaucratic procedures?
The paper focuses on the collaboration between social services and school as implemented in P.I.P.P.I., a research-training-intervention program funded by the Italian Ministry of Welfare and developed as an intensive care program for vulnerable families. P.I.P.P.I. (Program of Intervention for Prevention of Institutionalization) aims at preventing child placement by supporting parenting through a care process where participatory strategies and multi-professional and intensive intervention are key.
P.I.P.P.I. focuses on supporting parenting through multi-professional and intensive intervention in order to prevent child placement out-of-home, empower parenting skills and, in this way, break the cycle of disadvantages for children.
In the P.I.P.P.I. program, child neglect is defined as a significant deficiency or a failure to respond to the needs of a child recognized as fundamental on the grounds of current scientific knowledge (Lacharité et al. 2006, Dubowitz et al. 2005). In accordance with the bio-ecology of human development (Bronfenbrenner 1979, 2005), the program aims to respond to children’s needs with four “specific activities” involving families' different ecosystem levels. These four actions are integrated in a shared care plan, co-constructed for and with each child and family, following a Participative and Transformative Evaluation (PTE) approach (Serbati and Milani 2013). They consist of:
- Home-care intervention: this in-home activity aims at addressing relationship problems and modifying behaviours.
- Parents and children groups: parents and children are involved in group activities with other families, fostering reflective practice, encouraging exchange and interaction among participants.
- Natural family helpers: each family is provided with a support family or a family helper whose aim is to offer support in concrete aspects of daily life.
- Cooperation among schools, families, social and health services: teachers, with the other professionals and families, outline actions (both individualized and involving the entire class) that are meant to foster a positive school environment where children can learn social and emotional competences.
The paper focuses on the fourth action to deal with the following research questions: How do collaborative practices between school and services in the eso-system affect child wellbeing at school (micro-system)? Which practices support inclusive processes in child with special needs work? Which methodologies and strategies are the most useful in designing a common child-based care plan?
P.I.P.P.I. program provides approach and research tools based on the multidimensional model of the Child’s World (CW), that consists in the Italian adaptation of the British Assessment Framework, a triangular representation of the three fundamental dimensions in considering a child: the child’s developmental needs, the parenting response to these needs, and the environmental factors which may influence the responses. Each multidisciplinary team involved in the program used the CW for the assessment and the care plans for the 1,118 children and their 930 vulnerable families that participated in the 3rd and 4th phase of the implementation of P.I.P.P.I. during the years 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively, in 100 Italian territories. The paper aims to present an analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected with a focus on children with special needs. The paper presents the results about the pre-post assessment conducted by the professionals using analysis CW and a comparison with non-treated group selected in the same territories to analyse the impact of PIPPI program on the child wellbeing. A case study is presented to highlight the role played by teachers in the interdisciplinary team and how the collaboration among professionals supports inclusive practices.
The first results show the effects of collaboration on child-based care plans. Collaborative practices enrich the initial situation analysis by sharing the information collected by professionals and produce a common language and understanding about child and family resources and difficulties, as well as a more detailed knowledge of the functioning of the institutions involved. Moreover, the results show the impact on the CW: the program affects the child’s developmental needs that increase the child wellbeing specially in the children with special needs group. The results will be used to develop a shared training and a guideline to promote collaboration among social workers and teachers involved in child neglect.
Bakhtin M.M. (1981), The Dialogic Imagination: four essays by M.M. Bakhtin, University of Texas Press, Austin. Bronfenbrenner U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Bruner C. (1991): Thinking collaboratively: ten questions and answeres to help policy makers improve children’s services. Washington: Education and Human Services Consortium Crocker D. A. (2008), Ethics of global development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Dubowitz H., Pitts S.C., Litrownik A.J., Cox C.E., Runyand D., Black M.M. (2005). “Defining child neglect based on child protective services data”. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29, 493-511. Florian L., Spratt, J. (2013): Enacting inclusion: a framework for interrogating inclusive practice. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 2, pp. 119-135. Lacharité C., Ethier L., Nolin P. (2006). “Vers une théorie éco-systémique de la négligence envers les enfants”. Bulletin de psychologie, 59 (4), 381-394. Schwab J. J. (2013): The practical: a language for curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 5, pp. 591-621. Sennett R. (2011): Insieme: Rituali, piaceri, politiche della collaborazione. Milano: Feltrinelli Serbati S., Milani P. (2013). La tutela dei bambini. Teorie e strumenti di intervento con le famiglie vulnerabili. Roma: Carocci.
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