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The Transition to Community Integration

Above, I introduced the notion of “centeredness.” As we
saw there, the child protection paradigm transitions from the traditional staff
centered approach to incorporate a client centered approach at the intermediate
transitional level. The paradigm then transitions to the advanced level where
child protection is fully success centered. At this level, child protection is neither
staff nor client driven. It is instead driven by a continuous focus on the
shared success of the client and child protection workers as they strive to
keep the child safe while achieving permanence and ongoing success for the

In the continuing emergence of the new child protection
paradigm, centeredness is an increasingly important feature. Just as the
paradigm transitions from staff to client to success centeredness, it similarly
transitions from program centered to family centered to community integrated.
At the program centered, traditional level, services and resources are
delimited by the specific program to which the child is attached or for which
the family is eligible. The client receives those services or resources the
program provides. At the intermediate level, services and resources are family
driven. The family receives those services and resources the family believes to
be in its best interest.

In the new, emerging child protection paradigm,
centeredness shifts to the community. The community becomes a place where
children and families can fully participate in assuring that their needs are
met, their vulnerabilities are managed, their problems are resolved. It is a
place where young children are safe and nurtured and older children are at
home, in school, and out of trouble. It is a place where both families and
children succeed. When they do not succeed, the services and resources are
there in the particular mix most appropriate for each child and each family.

Revisiting the same transition, think about a particular
program associated with child protection. That program offers defined services
to identifiable clients. The program is at the center of the helping circle and
clients move into and out of the helping circle. We find this arrangement at
the traditional level of practice. Next, think about a family. When it receives
focus, is at the center of the helping circle, it may receive services and
resources from several programs, depending on the family’s specific needs and
interests. Various programs and associated staff move into and out of the
helping circle. Now consider an arrangement where the community is itself the
helping circle. The services, resources, and supplemental guidance children and
families need from time to time are equally available to and accessible by all
members of the community.

If a child or family need special or supplemental
services or resources (either self-identified or community-identified), the
needed array materializes. Think of it as a meta program, uniquely designed to
respond to the individual interests and circumstances of the particular child
or family. The development of one-stop services centers are a long step toward
realizing this new reality. Families know about and easily access the services
mall where they can get the exact help they need. When managed well, each
customer has a personal shopper (case manager) who makes sure each client gets
exactly what he (or she) needs.

If the exact services or resources are not immediately
available, the personal shopper locates them at another mall and has them
brought to the customer. “If we do not have exactly what you need, we will find
it for you.” At this level, child protection has fully transitioned from
program centered practice, past family centered practice, to actual community
integration. Each member of the community either has or can access the exact
services and resources he (or she) needs to succeed.

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