How do children and families get extra help when they need it?
Meitheal is the proposed Child and Family Agency standardised approach to assessing the needs of children and families that have come to the attention of practitioners and community members because of a child welfare or safety concern. Meitheal is a national practice model that enables the needs and strengths of children and their families to be properly identified and understood. This way of working will ensure that the proper supports and services are made available to children and families when they are required.
Meitheal is an old Irish term that describes how neighbours would come together to assist in the saving of crops or other tasks. The Meitheal model will enable children and families to receive appropriate support that they can access easily and is properly co-ordinated. Meithael will be used to deliver services at the second level of need for families who will benefit from an extra amount of support. This practice model will be developed piece by piece across Ireland over the next three years.
Meitheal will be used when a family will benefit from more than one type of support, in other words, when a range of skills and approaches would be useful to improve a child’s, and their family’s, wellbeing. It will enable practitioners in different organisations and agencies to communicate and work together effectively. It will also result in a more timely response to family needs to prevent problems from getting worse which may require more specialised support from social workers.
The way Meitheal works is a lead practitioner will identify a child’s and their family’s needs and strengths and then bring together a ‘team around the child’. The team will deliver preventative support that is properly planned, is focused on the child’s developmental needs, is documented and evaluated. The child and their family will be fully involved and participating in this process.
Strengths and Needs
Part of the process of Meitheal involves identifying strengths and needs of children and their families. These are looked at under different themes as follows:
|Physical and Mental Health||‘Being Healthy’|
|Emotional and Social development||
‘confidence in who I am’, ‘enjoying friends and family’, ‘being independent’, ‘looking after myself’, ‘being able to communicate’
|Behavioural Development||'learning to be responsible'|
|Education||'learning and achieving', 'school'|
|Parents and Carers||
‘being there for me’, ‘keeping me safe’,‘everyday care and help’, ‘guidance, supporting me to make the right choices’, ‘knowing what is going to happen and when’
|Family and Neighbourhood||‘understanding my family’s history, background and beliefs’,‘support from family, friends and other people’,‘enough money’, ‘comfortable and safe housing’, ‘local resources’,‘work opportunities for my family’,‘belonging’|
'my views, thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears'
If you wish to avail of a Meitheal, contact your local Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Team, Child and Family Agency.
Meitheal is one part of a Family Support system of services for children and families that is all about child and family wellbeing and improving outcomes. Included in this system is the Parenting Support Strategy. The Parenting Support Strategy is about supporting parents within their communities to be the best parents they can be. The Parenting Support Strategy promotes positive parenting and key messages for supporting parenting including parenting24seven.