Place-based approaches to support children and young people – Literature review

The Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland model draws on examples of good practice from existing place-based initiatives to support children and young people living in disadvantaged areas. Poverty and inequality have a particularly profound impact on children’s lives.

Image with key points (edited) from the Place-based approaches to support children and young people Literature review' Text says: • Limited evidence that place-based approaches improve outcomes for children & young people BUT they can mitigate the effects of structural inequalities and help individuals and families living in disadvantaged areas. • Poverty & inequality have a profound impact on children’s lives, so place-based initiatives specifically for disadvantaged children have been developed in the US, Australia, and the UK. • Can learn from promising practice but need a localised, customised approach taking account of geographical diversity and socioeconomic, political, and funding contexts. Connect local action with national and regional policy. • Take a holistic approach, ensure that services are integrated, and that the initiative is locally led. • Key services and organisations have to approach partnership working in a different way, including agreed goals and a shared sense of how these will be achieved, using a theory of change. • Schools may play a central role, often in a more community focused role, offering additional supports to families and the wider community. • Vital to empower communities to shape the initiatives and include children & young people in decision-making."

This review of the literature demonstrates that place-based approaches can help to mitigate the effects of structural inequalities and improve outcomes for children and young people, their families, and the communities in which they live. However, more evidence is required as to the effectiveness of such interventions, and the specific ways in which they can support children and families.

The review also recognises the importance of context and the need to develop localised, customised approaches that pays attention to geographical diversity and different funding contexts. Current Children’s Zones and Communities share the key characteristics of taking a holistic approach to tackling disadvantage as opposed to focusing on the ‘problems’ of the individual or family. Principles of collective impact, a structured approach to collaboration, underpins the approach of such initiatives which are also locally led, empowering local people to respond to the effects of inequality. Schools often play a central role in place-based approaches, in many cases reconceptualising the school’s role as more community focused, offering additional supports to families and the wider community. However it is also vital to consider how communities can be empowered to shape the development of place-based initiatives to support disadvantaged children and young people, including involving children and young people themselves in decision-making.

To cite this literature review:

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland. Place-based approaches to support children and young people. Glasgow: CNS 2018.

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