Good Childhood

Jointly Open New Doors for Children
A project in cooperation with
Rettet das Kind Salzburg

rettet das kindEnabling children and youths to lead a happy life is the main objective of the children’s aid organization “Rettet das Kind Salzburg”. For more than 50 years, the organization has guided children and youths along their paths. Young people, who are in need of help, are provided with emotional security, opportunities to receive individual support and a social environment that allows for a promising future through the support in the organization’s facilities.

Yet, what is it that constitutes a good and happy life, and how can it be achieved? What are the issues that need to be considered in regard of the difficult personal and family situations of the children and youths the organization cares for? With the project “Evidence-Based Quality Development”, which was scientifically supervised by Gunter Graf, “Rettet das Kind” faced these questions. In the course of the project a computer program was developed, which enables a target-oriented treatment and discussions of these issues. This software, called „DRE. – Dokumentation . Reflexion . Evaluation“, is now being employed in the daily work of the organization, where it fulfills three functions. First, it facilitates the planning and documentation of the care work. Second, it guides the co-workers through the reflection on their work by talking to the children and youths in care, which is an important indicator for necessary improvements. And third, it permits monitoring processes to show if the support measures of „Rettet das Kind“ actually have the desired impact.

For the development of the software, the following procedure was followed. Initially, the pedagogical aims of the organization were defined. For that matter, we consulted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Capability Approach and different impact studies aimed at out-of-home-care settings. Besides that, we also involved the organization’s employees and the children and youths with their practical knowledge. The general aim was to identify the most important dimensions of human well-being and to clarify which opportunities and freedoms should be made available to children in care. Based on these considerations and the current state of research, we identified a set of criteria, which permit the evaluation of the work provided by “Retted das Kind”. Involving employees and children and youths in care, we made sure that these criteria were adapted to the needs and specific requirements of the organization’s care facilities in Salzburg.

The knowledge acquired in the project allowed us to develop a software, which in fact provides support and useful guidelines for the daily routine of a child care organization. Together with the children, youths and staff we were able to specify essential dimensions of a good life, which now serve as the benchmark for the work of “Rettet das Kind Salzburg”. The results of the project were presented and discussed in a closing event, where many experts of child and youth care participated.