In the framework of the action programme of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) entitled "Early Assistance for Parents and Children and Social Early-Warning Systems", the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) and the German Youth Institute (DJI) jointly operate the multiprofessional "National Centre on Early Prevention" (NZFH). The Centre began its work in March 2007, the concept and the "first steps" being presented to the public on 10 July 2007.
The Centre supports practitioners in identifying risks earlier and more effectively, and in providing appropriate assistance. The sharing of its operation is intended to express the exemplary development of multiprofessional cooperation projects in the field of "Early Prevention".
The overriding goal of the "National Centre on Early Prevention" is to protect children against dangers earlier and better by networking the assistance provided by the health system and the child and youth welfare sector as effectively as possible.
To achieve this goal, it is particularly important to improve the reachability of risk groups. To this end, information must be compiled and criteria developed that make it easier for child and youth welfare organisations, and the forms of assistance available in the health system, to identify high-risk families in a non-discriminatory manner, (further) develop suitable prevention offerings and provide them in the close social environment of the families. Child, youth and health assistance must offer coordinated, mutually complementary prevention measures, from qualification measures for parents with young children, all the way to intensive community services support for families in crisis situations. The latest cases of child endangerment, all the way to the killing of babies and infants, make it clear that the content of the mandate to provide "early prevention", which focuses on primary prevention, very rapidly comes close to intervention (secondary and tertiary prevention). Against this backdrop, knowledge relating purely to primary prevention must be expanded, and practical work based on it intensified. There is, however, also a need to expand it to include the knowledge available in relation to effective assistance in cases of child endangerment.
The "National Centre on Early Prevention" targets the knowledge-based improvement of practice in the field of early assistance and the establishment of a prevention chain, from general, early information and education of parents regarding child development, motivation to attend medical check-ups and active referral to specific forms of assistance and support, all the way to accompanying work with families in difficult social situations. The system to be implemented in standard healthcare must be geared to accurate identification of all young children in risky family situations, in order to accompany and support their development by providing assistance and, where appropriate - if necessary to protect the child - also to intervention against the will of the parents. Attention should focus on families expecting children or with children up to the age of about three years, whose situations in life are characterised by great stresses and diverse and/or serious risks (e.g. poverty, violence or addiction in the parental home).
The website of the National Centre on Early Prevention offers:
- Comprehensive specialist information for multipliers
- Links to relevant online offerings - particularly those of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) and the German Youth Institute/Information Centre Child Abuse and Neglect (DJI/IzKK)
- A calendar of events