Louise Callaghan PI Number: CI322713 TMA 01
What is the social ecological model? How can this perspective be used in practice to deepen understanding of the lives of children, young people and families in poverty and promote their wellbeing?
This assignment will explain the social ecological model, discuss its limitations and illustrate how the social ecological perspective of keeping the child or young person at its centre can be used in practice to deepen the understanding of the lives of children, young people and families in poverty to promote their wellbeing. Key concepts, theories, ideologies and policies demonstrate the complexities that are involved in working with children, young people and families. The social ecological model is a tool used to analyze the web of relationships and their effects on children young people or their family’s lives exploring the immediate micro levels of influence and the wider macro levels of influence. Poverty is a complex issue and how it is defined will affect policy and tackling the negative effects on a person’s wellbeing. However, the social ecological model also comes with limitations, and does not reflect changing needs and diversity across time.
The social ecological model is a series of concentric rings, each representing a different layer of social influences at different environmental levels surrounding the child at the center, each influencing the child’s development. Urie Bronfenbrenner presented the ecological perceptive in 1979, his wish was to illustrate how human development is influenced through the mutual influences and simultaneous relationships within, and between, the different systems or environments (K218, Learning Guide 3, Section 3.1).
Bronfenbrenners original model highlighted how child development is affected by individual and environmental factors such as innate capabilities and genetic characteristics, indirect factors such as schools , parents employment responsibilities, cultural and social expectations and the quality of welfare services, which all affect the ability of parents to help and support their children. However, it cannot take into account the pressures and wider forces including targets and workloads that practitioners face, it cannot show the social contexts of a family such as where they live, access to resources, inequality and diversity, surrounding family support and social class. Therefore, for the social ecological perspective to be used to its advantage in practice it must be understood that it is merely a framework for reflecting a probable rather than definite outcome.
Subsequently society’s definition of a child’s wellbeing is changeable and influenced by surrounding interconnected factors. Axford (2008) as cited in O’Dell and Leverett (2011) proposed that there are at least five conceptual approaches to the definition of wellbeing in children, need, rights, poverty, quality of life and social exclusion each presenting definitional problems separately and interrelated. The social ecological theory is used by practitioners, in assessment of multiple forces and relationships on a child micro to macro level to help give an insight into community to cultural level.