The municipality of Laren will start this year with the two-year pilot ‘Neighborhood Families’. The idea: Linking families that need some support to a stable family, in order to relieve the parents and give the children some extra love. On the radio program NH Throw Saturday says coordinator Heleen Zomers about this.
The support they can receive varies per family and the needs of the requesting family. “The demand family is the family that needs the support,” says Heleen Zomers. “In general, the child simply participates in the other family, so as a support family you do not have to pull out all the stops to entertain the child. It is just a matter of participating and it is about the extra attention and love you give the child .”
“In terms of frequency, you can think of a weekly play afternoon or a day at the weekend. Over time, this sometimes changes. If both families like it, the child can occasionally spend a night with the support family. Or the Support family sends a text at the weekend with ‘Hey, we’re going for a walk or to the beach this weekend, does he or she want to come along?'”
Before the families are connected, there is still a careful process involved. “The families express their wishes about it in advance. For example, I go for an introductory meeting with both families separately.”
“This is done at least twice to look at the expectations of the help that is being given. This is how I find out which family suits another family. The moment I think there is a match, we bring the families together and then we will mutually discuss what the expectations are. It is often the case that a family is overloaded and occasionally give the child some extra time and attention in another family. If there is a problem, they can get rid of me and try to solve it as an intermediary.”
The pilot already started in Blaricum and Eemnes last year. “I have already been able to make very nice links. There are families that need support, but that is not always known. It is up to me to bring those families to the surface, in collaboration with other parties from the municipality. These can be schools, general practitioners or via the municipality. Those people signal that these may be families who need informal neighborly help and then they reach me.”
“It is nice that Laren is now also participating in this because then we can help the entire BEL municipality. And we can also match the families from the villages. Sometimes a family from Blaricum to a family from Laren. The question families come from the three municipalities, but the support families also come from Hilversum or Bussum, for example.”
The coordinator remains connected to the families during the two years. There is an evaluation moment every six months and then any problems will surface. The families can always contact us if there are urgent matters.
Listen to the entire interview with Heleen Zomers via this link.