Where did the idea come from?

The story so far diagram

What we can learn from these pioneers

  • Define your neighbourhood – what was different about Harlem Children Zone was the focus on one geographical area and all the people, services and organisations within it. Children’s Communities were/are based in in disadvantaged areas but ones that already have a history of partnership working and a common commitment to take this to the “next level” 
  • Understand the local context and share it with everyone in the partnership, then together build a theory of change – use the assets of the community and spend time researching what’s already going one there
  • Locally integrated and holistic system of support – working across different parts of children’s lives, enabling transitions between family, school and community. West London Zone recommended building relationships and getting communities and local agencies fully on board before service delivery begins. Only add new services to fill gaps. 
  • Aim at generational change – working over the long-term: a way of working that is different from short-term goal-focused services. Harlem Children’s Zone’s ‘pipeline program design’ supports young people’s educational, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing from before they are born through to higher education.
  • Powered by local voices – Children’s Communities are locally-led and owned and focused on local needs, assets and communities
  • Bring in expertise: Whilst West London Zone originally thought data would be their biggest asset, they quickly realised their link workers were the most valuable part of the organisation as they build the relationships necessary to make collaboration happen.

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