The good practices presented here in this section were collected in the project ‘CHALVI’ (Family violence and substance misuse with special attention to a child’s perspective) during the years 2006 and 2007. The project was carried out in 7 European countries and was financed by the Daphne II programme of the European Commission. The mission of the project was to prevent and reduce harm inflicted on children by substance misuse related adult domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. Goal was to reach a substantial proportion of professionals working with children in the partnering countries, and to build up their awareness and capacity to empower children affected by domestic violence.
The aim of this Good Practice Report is to introduce the concept of good practices and offer guidance in making use of the practices for helping children suffering from domestic violence and alcohol misuse. The report will present xx good practices both in the field of treatment and prevention which can be divided into services directed to children, services for children and their parents and activities for empowering the professionals working with children.
What Is a 'Good Practice'?
There are lots of different conceptions of what a good practice is. Generally, a good practice is an activity that has proved to have a desired impact on an object, be it a disease, a social problem, performance of an organisation etc.
A good practice as we define is: A working practice that is based on the best possible knowledge, and which has been identified at a workplace as good, functioning and beneficial to the client, the client being a child suffering from parental alcohol problem and/or domestic violence.
Two typical activities where good practices are created are 1) in everyday activities (basic functions of the organisation and in 2) in projects.
Usually good practices are collected in projects but some organisations may have integrated the recording of good practices in their normal routines. The collection and dissemination of good practices indicate a chance in the organisation's culture: in information society, the boundary between development and routine work is diffuse.
Good practice examples can be: guidelines; case studies; material (products) or any other type of activity or product that has been successfully used to help a child, either as a routine work of the organisation or a result of a project.
Different types of good practices vary from each other in terms of level of detail: good practice descriptions can range from a very general description of what has been done to detailed description and amount of evidence on that the practice actually works.
There are certain limitations to the use of good practices. They have been developed in a learning process in a certain context and by certain people, called the community of practice, and cannot be transferred from that context or organisation to another like physical items. Integrating a new work practice is an organisational learning process and may involve a change in attitudes and structures in order be successful. In fact, the whole concept of good practices relies on the assumption that organisations have the interest, determination and capacity to start processes of change. Successful change always requires the engagement and participation of the people involved. Some of the good practices are deeply rooted in a certain cultural context and can not be rooted up without losing a vital element (see necessary elements).
In the social sector, unlike in medicine, for example, laying out evidence that an activity actually has the desired impact, is difficult. Only few practices, in fact, have been evaluated in a way which fulfills the scientific criteria, i.e. meta-analysis of randomised trials, etc. Most of the evidence is derived from the positive experiences gained while implementing the activity.
The European Union Perspective
The EU governance has recently applied an approach called Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on various areas of policy, including social policy. OMC looks for ways of working towards common European objectives while recognising and respecting the diversity of national policies and institutional arrangements among the member states.
OMC relies strongly on identifying, documenting and disseminating good practices and sees them as a means of unifying European working practices and improving mutual learning. The model implicitly assumes that good practices can be identified and their effectiveness can be proved using similar methods as in medical sciences, and that they can be embedded in a new context, with resulting increase in the quality and efficacy of the work.
The CHALVI Approach
The CHALVI project was designed to serve professionals on the field. Our experience is that professionals are interested in improving their work through learning new things and sharing experiences, but only have a limited amount of time for doing that. Therefore, the good practice descriptions need to be concise but yet offer enough information for people who might want to apply the new model of activity in his or her work environment.