ELTERN-AG – Interview mit Prof. Meinrad Armbruster
Online Magazin VITA Europe vom 22.11.2010
ELTERN-AG by Cristina Barbetta - published on 22 November 2010 at 17:09
Non Profit ID card: A voluntary empowerment project that works with parents of socially disadvantaged children
Questions answered by Prof. Dr. Meinrad Armbruster, Strategic director of ELTERN-AG.
Where are you based? ELTERN-AG is based in Magdeburg, the capital of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, in Germany.
What are you called? We are called ELTERN-AG (Parenting community).
What are you doing and why? ELTERN-AG is an outreach and voluntary empowerment project that works with parents of children in socially disadvantaged situations. We help the relations between parents and children and help parents to cooperate with social service agencies and health care providers.
Do you have a website/email? www.eltern-ag.de; firstname.lastname@example.org.
What makes you so special? ELTERN-AG runs a free, five-month program specifically targeted at parents. It is facilitated by two trained mentors and consists of twenty weekly sessions, each designed as a stand-alone module to accommodate parents who cannot attend every time. The approach of ELTERN-AG understands that these sessions will not work unless they are informal and participatory and involve peer-to-peer learning rather than lectures from experts. Parents must feel that they are in charge of their lives, must experience some quick successes at home, and must not be made to feel inadequate or delinquent.
The turning point
How did you start? The PISA-study conducted by the OECD in 2000 ranked Germany in the bottom third of the thirty-two mainly OECD countries. It showed that there is a high correlation between socio-economic background, performance in school and social standing later in life. Children born into the poorest, most depressed 25 percent of German counties (approximately 2 million) suffer pervasive disadvantages in their education and their later lives. One year later, a professor and a group of inspired young students in the small University of Magdeburg thought they should do something about this and so they started the first ELTERN-AG team.
What keeps you going every day? ELTERN-AG is attacking one of the biggest inequalities in Germany: children from working class backgrounds have significantly fewer chances of success in life and suffer crucial disadvantages at home before the age of six. ELTERN-AG helps these children by making their parents a part of the solution rather than the problem. It empowers poor parents to become responsible mothers and fathers and to create the nurturing family and community environments their children need to succeed in school and in life.
Who is your target? Parents with children aged from 0 to 6 years in socially disadvantaged situations and in high-risk circumstances (poverty, youth, lack of education, social isolation, unemployment, migration, chronical illness and stressful life conditions). About 70 % of the participants are single mothers.
How are you financed? Funding is provided by social service agencies, the European Social Fund (ESF) and foundations.
A proud moment? Nomination to the German Prevention Prize 2006, Ashoka- Fellowship 2008 and being one of the winners of the first European Social Innovation Competition.
A problem you face? The non profit sector is a substantial economic force in Germany, as far as both expenditures and employment are concerned. The big welfare organisations are competing hard, they try to copy the ELTERN- AG-approach without reaching the quality standards.
Your personal motto when things get hard? You are not responsible for being down, but you are responsible for getting up!
Another cool project/organisation/campaign you would like to recommend? iq consult. This welfare organisation advises and assists young enterprises and non profit organizations in developing future strategies, realising new ideas and in coping with crisis situations. Moreover, iq consult advises public institutions in developing new planning intentions and their wish to realize them.