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The training schools have shown remarkable success. Three-fourths of the parents who become involved stay involved through the end. Sixty-five percent of the parents who complete the training sessions continue to meet informally with the other participants. The relationships and skills developed in the schools then spill over to other community activities. With the mentors’ encouragement, many parents have gone on to initiate self-led workshops on relationships and marriage, unemployment, addiction, and other important topics. They also feel much more confident reaching out to local authorities, especially doctors and schoolteachers, to discuss their children’s well-being. The first author conducted a study with a team of academic researchers (Armbruster 2006; Sodtke & Armbruster, 2007) that shows how the parents he reaches come to feel much more comfortable as parents, and that their children show demonstrably fewer learning disabilities and perform better in school. (Their development significantly outstrips that of other children whose parents did not participate in ELTERN-AG program.) These findings help the ELTERN-AG group significantly in their expansion and will open doors in other states, via other universities.
Up to 2009, the ELTERN-AG team has trained 80 mentors, resulting in 100 parenting schools in the state of Lower Saxony, a depressed region of Eastern Germany. It has reached about 1 000 parents and 2 500 children.
The vision and strategy of the ELTERN-AG founders, however, extend far beyond this initial pool of clients. The members are launching a social franchise system that will allow the more rapid expansion of this program to other parts of Germany. Though their organization is currently financed primarily through grants from foundations and state health ministries, they plan to rely more heavily on payments from their network of franchisees, which will draw their funding from youth authorities, health insurers, foundations, and the private sector. Toolkits for franchisees will cost roughly EUR 2 500 and will include mentoring training, training materials, supervision (especially in the early stages), and yearly evaluations and content updates. The ELTERN-AG team is launching this system first in the poorer states of Eastern Germany, where the need is most acute, and will then spread into Western Germany.
The ELTERN-AG group is also planning to expand the slate of services offered, and to expand the target population to include children ages seven to sixteen. Understanding that their support to parents is limited in time and that his families need recurring encouragement to continue reaching out, the ELTERN-AG team plans to work with the German Midwives Association to tap into new volunteer networks. Interested citizens can become afterprogram mentors who accompany parents to school and interact with state
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGES
authorities until parents are familiar with the system and can continue on their own.
To change the very system of support offered to poor parents, the first author also works from the top down. Using his status as a Professor at the University Of Applied Sciences Of Magdeburg, he is creating the first university degree program in Germany that trains teachers in pedagogical strategies designed specifically to empower poor children and parents to take responsibility for their lives and decisions. Once in place, this program will create additional multipliers for his vision and strategy.
Baumert, J. (2001). PISA 2000. Opladen ( Leske & Budrich).
Baumert, J., Artelt, C. & Klieme, E. (2002). PISA 2000. Die Länder der Bundesrepublik im Vergleich. Wiesbaden (VS Verlag).
(Armbruster, M.M. (2004). Ausführliche Beschreibung des Projektes ELTERN-AG.
Magdeburg (MAPP e.V.).
Armbruster, M.M. & Gröninger, G. (2005). Die ELTERN-AG – Das Magdeburger Programm für Prävention im Elementarbereich. In R. Geene et al. (Eds.), Gesunde Lebenswelten für Kinder und Eltern – Chancengleichheit durch Gesundheitsförderung. Berlin (Gesundheit Berlin e.V.).
Armbruster, M.M. (2006). ELTERN-AG: Das Empowerment-Programm für mehr Elternkompetenz in Problemfamilien. Heidelberg (Carl-Auer).
Sodtke, D. & Armbruster, M. M. (2007). ELTERN-AG - Die niedrigschwellige Elternschule für die frühe Kindheit. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie 56(8), 707-720.
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGES
CHAPTER 3. OECD WORKSHOP ON INNOVATION FOR SOCIAL
CHALLENGES: LESSONS FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM
Introduction This chapter presents the United Kingdom’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) efforts to promote a range of innovators and include social innovators and entrepreneurs in tackling some of the most pressing global issues in different ways.
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) NESTA is the UK’s largest endowment with a mission to transform the UK’s capacity for innovation. We work across the private and public sector to understand how innovation happens and how to support it more effectively. NESTA researches and explores all of the different parts of the innovation system – from innovation capital and market incentives to knowledge creation and enterprise incubation.
NESTA’s public and social innovation work ranges across developing and supporting social enterprises and new models of public service delivery, developing metrics and methods for social innovation and researching ways in which government can more effectively encourage and enable innovation.
This is delivered by NESTA’s Public Service Innovation Lab – a team of innovation experts working with partners to test and evaluate new approaches – where experiments inform our policy and research work which in turn advises government and other key decision makers.
1. For more information on NESTA and its activities, please see www.nesta.org.uk
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGESThe case for social innovation The UK, like many other countries, is facing big challenges both economically and socially. Across all areas of public services, global challenges such as climate change, an ageing population and the changing nature of public health are having a profound impact. Furthermore, the UK public sector is facing higher levels of debt than it’s seen for a generation.
With restricted budgets, public services are being forced to think about how to achieve much more for significantly less.
Innovation is critical in responding to these challenges now and in the future. But innovation needs to involve a wider range of actors and draw across a number of disciplines to respond to the complex, interdependent nature of social challenges. This reflects the emerging trend towards more ‘open’ and ‘user-led’ innovation in the private sector. Policymakers increasingly recognise this, but still struggle to stimulate and support more distributed innovation from local communities and individuals.
NESTA strongly believes that innovation holds the key to delivering the kind of public services we need now. Social innovation – engaging new actors, resources, systems and processes to create new social value – can generate new ways of delivering existing services and design different ones.
Innovation with and by the users of public services can improve outcomes and ensure services are most efficient. A tighter focus on efficiency and budget control ought to drive innovation, as existing solutions are increasingly unsustainable.
Social innovation in practice
“All innovation involves the application of new ideas – or the reapplication of old ideas in new ways – to devise better solutions to our needs. Innovation is invariably a cumulative, collaborative activity in which ideas are shared, tested, refined, developed and applied. Social innovation applies this thinking to social issues: education and health, issues of inequality and inclusion.” Charlie Leadbeater (2008) ‘We Think’ 2 NESTA’s work on social innovation – a substantial body of which was developed in partnership with the Young Foundation – understands that social innovation isn’t always a linear process. Social innovations are constantly going through change and iteration.
2. Leadbeater, C. (2008) We Think: Mass Innovation Not Mass Participation. London: Profile Books.
NESTA’s Public Service Innovation Lab NESTA aims to demonstrate how public and social innovation can not only deliver better outcomes, but can also do so at lower cost. The Public Services Innovation Lab works across a range of programmes, anchored by social challenges, and draws out practical lessons for policy makers, partner organisations and practitioners.
For example, the Big Green Challenge is a GBP 1 million open innovation challenge prize for communities to tackle climate change; Age Unlimited, NESTA’s programme on ageing, works with people in their 50s to design new types of services for older people; our work on health looks to
3. Murray, M., Caulier-Grice, J., and Mulgan, G. (2010) The Open Book of Social Innovation.
London: NESTA and the Young Foundation; part of the Social Innovator Series, see www.socialinnovator.info
FOSTERING INNOVATION TO ADDRESS SOCIAL CHALLENGESuser-led innovation as a way to unleash more radically patient-centred care services and a social enterprise incubator to support new approaches to healthcare. NESTA’s research work supports these practical interventions and builds on the research, examples and ideas from other organisations and individuals where innovation has transformed public services or helped to respond to social challenges.
NESTA’s practical programmes and experiments inform and drive our policy and research work. The success of the Big Green Challenge for example – which solicited over 350 entries from community-based groups across the UK and delivered considerable reductions of CO2 emissions – demonstrated the potential of an approach we call ‘Mass Localism’, how government can support more widespread, local innovation and achieve impact at scale. We are testing the implications of this approach across a range of social challenge areas – improving public health, crime and antisocial behaviour and mental wellbeing.
Going forward – transforming innovation
Our experience in understanding social issues tells us three things:
firstly, they can’t be resolved by technology alone; secondly, like the challenges, the solutions must also be social; thirdly, wherever possible they need to come from and be led by the public. Our work looks to the public as the users of services, the people with ideas, and the resources with the capacity for behaviour change.
NESTA’s work going forward will focus on developing the infrastructure for social innovation – the financial architecture and methods for social innovation to grow and be strengthened as a field. The OECD partnerships and international network will be invaluable in sharing practice and developing the expertise in these areas at this critical time.
4. Bunt, L., and Harris, M. (2010), Mass Localism: A Way to Help Small Communities to Solve Big Social Challenges, London: NESTA.
Introduction I have had the chance to work for five years at Ashoka, the largest global network of innovative Social Entrepreneurs with systems changing ideas. Founded in 1981 in India, Ashoka now supports nearly 3 000 social innovators in 70 countries on all continents. This chapter summarizes some of what I have learnt by meeting and working with some of these outstanding Social Entrepreneurs on how they transform innovation to address social challenges and radically revolutionize our societies In an ideal world, everybody would have an equal access to education and healthcare, opportunities on the job market, fair representation and rights in courts of law, just rewards for the same job, a safe environment and adequate support in difficult situations. But we are not in an ideal world.
The challenges we face are countless, multiplying and made more complex by globalisation and a degrading environment. They are all the harder to resolve as they are systemically rooted and interconnected.