The birth of a child changes the entire life situation, and not every family copes with it equally well. Stressful situations often arise that can develop into real problems. To prevent this from happening, the coordinating child protection agency (koki) of the youth welfare office in the district office of kulmbach has been in existence for almost ten years. It advises pregnant women and mothers and fathers with children between zero and three years of age and, if necessary, arranges the appropriate help so that more serious problems do not arise in the first place.
How does the cooperation in the network work?? Where there is still room for improvement? That's what bavarian health minister melanie huml (CSU) wanted to know, and that's why she met with doctors' representatives from upper franconia, members of the bavarian chamber of psychotherapists and upper franconian koki employees at the district administration office yesterday. "My goal is to further the healthy, challenging and non-violent growth of our children", according to the minister. Thanks to good networking in child protection, psychosocial stress situations and risks to children's well-being could be identified or even avoided."
Doctors are important partners
In the discussion with the upper franconian networkers, it became clear that closer contact with doctors would be desirable, especially with gynecologists, who could specifically refer young pregnant women or women in difficult life situations to koki support. "They should know who they can turn to for help. The doctors are important partners."
The minister also wanted to get the subject of mental illness out of the taboo zone. "Children of mentally ill parents often feel responsible for their own actions. They therefore need special attention and support. The mentally ill parents, on the other hand, need help so that they can fulfill their educational responsibilities."
There are now over 100 interdisciplinary koki networks in the state. In kulmbach, the social pedagogues monika cosma and kerstin ziegler are the contact persons for families and all health and youth care professionals involved in early help. Both brought many years of experience in the youth welfare office to this task. "We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone who needs support to come to us", says monika cosma. "It is important to us that families know they can turn to us for help without being criticized or labeled."
Where there are still gaps in the network? "Currently, we would like to have a sponsor who offers family mentors who can relieve parents on an hourly basis. This would be a valuable support for many families."
It can affect any family
Stressful situations that are difficult to cope with can arise in any family and in all social classes, explained head of the youth welfare office klaus schroder. "Multiple births, a mental illness, special health needs, financial difficulties, an apartment that is too small – problems can have many causes. If we can solve them at an early stage, we can avoid later need for youth welfare services." Those seeking help were much less reluctant to turn to the koki than to the youth welfare office, which is perceived more as an intervening authority.
50 new first contacts per year
How long a family needs support varies greatly, says kerstin ziegler. Sometimes even a little help is enough, sometimes the support lasts a year or longer. "And if it turns out that there is a need for further help for young people, we can be the ones who are open to it."
The kulmbach counseling center has about 50 initial contacts with families every year – and the trend is upward. In addition, there are families who need support more than once or over a longer period of time. District administrator klaus peter sollner is pleased that the offer has been accepted. Families are effectively helped before expensive juvenile detentions become necessary, he said.