It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child is designed to increase parents' capabilities – their parenting skills, knowledge and behaviours – to ensure they are armed with the very best opportunities to ensure every Indigenous child gets the best possible start in life.
Cape York Partnerships (CYP) believes in promoting parental responsibility and supporting the physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. The Cape York Welfare Reform Agenda is premised on the acknowledgment that Indigenous kinship is a truly valuable cultural and social resource for Indigenous people, which should be honoured and respected. The agenda recognises that a range of dysfunctional behaviours have infiltrated classic kinship systems and commandeered them to their service and perpetuation. Contemporary expressions of kinship are therefore highly susceptible to dysfunction and cultural distortion. The implications for parenting practices need to be the subject of sensitive discussion with Indigenous community members. The program plays a role in building the social and cultural capital of a community; 'it takes a village to raise a child'.
Baby College was inspired by a project of the same name run by the Harlem Children’s Zone1. Baby College builds on the existing capabilities of parents. It provides a ‘college’ for impending parents to socialise and learn while they travel on the journey to parenthood with support from experienced aunties, uncles and grandparents in the community and from baby health and parenting professionals. It supports parents to prepare for the birth of their child with an emphasis on ante-natal and post-natal health. Parents are given the skills to lay the foundations for the positive early development of their children.
Positive Kids is a program designed to work with parents and Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) to encourage positive behaviour management to optimise learning and prepare students for success in secondary school. Using the Triple P approach, each parent is encouraged to not only participate, but through practical parenting demonstrations, discuss ideas and collaborate with one another. Positive parenting becomes a community norm which meets the expectations of respected and experienced uncles, aunts and grandparents in the community. Professional support is also provided to parents to develop parenting strategies and skills for the normal challenges of raising positive children.
Strong Families is a structured program for children and families who are actively case managed so that everything is done to ensure that families can stay together and grow strong. With intensive one-on-one support in the home, education in positive parenting techniques and integrated behaviour management, parents are given the framework to fulfil their responsibilities for their children. Everything is done to enhance the potential for children in protection to be reunited with their families into safe and functional homes where parents are fulfilling their responsibilities.
Funding and partnerships
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child is a component of the Social Responsibility Stream of the Cape York Welfare Reform Agenda – a tripartite partnership between the Australian and Queensland Governments, and Cape York Partnerships. Welfare Reform currently operates in Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.
CYP seeks partnerships with investors and with the national volunteer community network wanting to contribute in assisting families with their pursuits in a meaningful way.
The case for reform
Basic social norms that are the glue to any society (such as sending children to school, respecting others, and taking care of one’s family and one’s house) have significantly deteriorated in Cape York communities. Passive welfare has resulted in welfare payments being a poorly used and a problematic resource for families. Welfare Reform seeks to remove welfare dependency and encourage families to climb the opportunity staircase so individuals and families participate in the real economy. The goal being to enable Cape York people to have the capabilities to choose lives they have reason to value.
This requires foundations of strong cultural norms, enabling structures, and rational incentives that ‘nudge’ people towards capability and responsibility building opportunities. The necessary behaviour change can be precipitated when people are engaged in building a vision for their future and getting support to achieve it. CYP has designed a scaffold approach that supports people along the transition path, using education, coaching and incentives, which are slowly reduced as people begin to take more responsibility.
Alignment with the Cape York Agenda
CYP’s role is to implement the social, economic and cultural development goals of the Cape York Agenda, developed by indigenous leaders from Cape York. CYP has developed a Third Way to enable Aboriginal families to move from passive welfare dependency to real economic participation. This Third Way shifts from passive service delivery to an approach that combines personal and family responsibility, capabilities development and tangible opportunity products to enable individual and family pathways to a better life.
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child reinvigorates civic participation and social capital by building capability and delegating responsibility to active individuals and groups.
1. Harlem Children’s Zone is a highly regarded New York based organisation working to improve the lives of poor children living in one of the most devastated communities in America. The program has been proven to inspire parents to take up other training and employment opportunities, eat healthier and cook more meals in the home, get more exercise and increase their physical and spiritual well-being.
This project is designed, developed and delivered by Cape York Partnerships in partnership with Cape York Institute.