The “family-centered” model has developed significantly over the past two decades and is applied more and more in the context of treating and rehabilitating children with special needs.
Insight with regard to the central role played by the family in the child’s life, and growing recognition of the considerable knowledge that parents have of their child’s abilities, difficulties and needs, are increasingly delineating the nature of the partnership and connection between parents and professionals.
In a service in which the family is the center, attention is paid to the strengths and needs of all members of the family, and interventions are aimed at strengthening the family as a whole – parents, siblings, grandparents, and so on.
The basic assumptions of family-centered service
On the basis of the assumptions below, the working principles and characteristic of family-centered service have developed, and the nature of the partnership between parents and professionals has been shaped.
With regard to the family:
- The family is the primary and most significant determining factor in the child’s life, throughout his or her life.
- Families are unique, and differ from each other.
- Parents know their children well and bring their knowledge of the child’s unique characteristics and needs to the partnership.
- Parents bring to the partnership their values, needs, and priorities.
With regard to the professionals:
- Professionals are a significant, yet temporary, resource in the life of the child and his or her family.
- The professionals have expertise in their field, and bring professional knowledge and technology, professional experience, skills and abilities to the partnership.
- The role of the professional is to increase the family’s ability to achieve the decisions and objectives that are meaningful to it, and strengthen its skills and abilities.
The main principles of the model
The model recognizes the connection between the welfare of the family and the welfare of the child. It focuses on developing the strengths and powers of the child and the family, and pooling the resources required for their well-being. In order to provide the child with the optimal environment for development, it is necessary to relate not only to the child, but also to the needs of the family and the immediate surroundings (the community).
The model is based on the following principles:
- Partnership between family and professional
This partnership exists in decision-making, the assessment process, and the intervention and control process.
- Mutual respect
Each side, parents and professionals, respects the role and contribution of the other.
- The family as a unit is the focus of attention
The professionals relate to each family as an independent unit, and are aware of the individual differences of the families: values, beliefs, lifestyle. Each family has a tailor-made program to suit it.
- The central place of the family
In the decision-making processes, a central place is given to the preferences and choices of the family when defining the needs and determining the priorities in the intervention programs.
- Full sharing of information
Professionals share all relevant information with parents regularly and in a variety of ways, at the right time and in a structured language, so as to enable them to make use of the information.
- Combining the abilities of the professionals and the parents
The intervention is based on the abilities of both the professionals and the family, together promoting the care of the child.
- The family’s strengths
The approach recognizes the power of regular dialogue between parents and professionals. The intervention focuses on the strengths of the family and is aimed at empowering them. The professionals share knowledge, guide, accompany and support the family, in order to strengthen its ability to act as a partner in a dialogue with the professionals, to advocate for the child in dealing with services and authorities.
- Flexible service
The service provides a range of programs adapted to the unique needs of the child and his or her family.
- Culturally adapted service
Respect for cultural differences and attention to the unique cultural variables of each family.