Recruitment: an important step in engagement

Without successful recruitment, family and community engagement can flounder. Before programs and other initiatives can successfully engage participants, people need to show up or become engaged in some other way. Although advertising and promotion are not engagement in their own right, unless people know about a program or initiative, engagement can be challenging. If people don’t become engaged, particularly marginalised  families and communities, it can be tempting to label them as “hard to reach” (Cortis, Katz, & Patulny, 2009; McDonald, 2010), when we really need to look at our own practice, processes and procedures.

This was all driven home to me in a recent two-day Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop I helped facilitate. We were delighted to have seventeen people register for the workshop. We felt we had reached the participants that we wanted to target. Some of them had been told to do a relevant course by a court or by Probation and Parole. Some were referred by a drug or family service, including some who were wanting to regain (or improve) access to their children. Others wanted to improve their relationship with their partner.

On the day of the workshop, however, only seven people showed up and only two people came to the second day. Clearly we have a problem. Continue reading

Posted in Facilitation & teaching, Families & parenting, Working with communities | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The importance of recruitment in engagement – an example

There were some problems with formatting that I couldn’t fix so I’ve re-done the post here Continue reading

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Strengths-based measurement

(Photo: Pixabay)

As practitioners and researchers we need to think carefully about the types of measures we use with the people we support. The measures we use can cause pain and distress for participants, undermine trust and engagement, and produce unreliable data.

A few years ago, I was talking with some researchers and policymakers about measuring outcomes of family services. One of them was complaining that many family workers resisted using standardised outcome measures. I asked if it could partly be because many services were strengths-based and didn’t want to use measures that focused on problems and what was wrong. Her response was “tough!” For her the research and measurement were much more important than adopting a strengths-based approach. Continue reading

Posted in Being an academic, Families & parenting, Strengths-based approaches & ABCD | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transparency report (January-April 2017)

(Photo: CC BY-SA, flickr/freepress via Flickr)

At the start of the year, I decided to start preparing transparency reports. While I don’t make any money from the blog, I like the idea of sharing information about the blog that might be of interest to other bloggers.

  • Total views (Jan-Apr 2017) – 61,233 (Average of 510 views/day)
  • Total visitors (Jan-Apr 2017) – 41,117
  • Total likes (Jan-Apr 2017) – 33
  • Total comments (Jan-Apr 2017) – 39
  • Total shares (Jan-Apr 2017) – 374
  • Total WordPress followers (end of Apr 2017) – 370
  • Total email followers – 294
  • Total Twitter followers – 489
  • Total Blog Facebook page followers – 250

My top ten posts for the first four months of the year were:

  1. What is the Strengths Perspective? (10,492 views)
  2. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)? (4996 views)
  3. What is community capacity building? (3396 views)
  4. What are social models of health? (3150 views)
  5. Types of community engagement (3026 views)
  6. What is the Spectrum of Public Participation? (2889 views)
  7. Making parents feel welcome in schools (2757 views)
  8. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement (1558 views)
  9. Ethics and community engagement (1535 views)
  10. 10 ways to reduce your consumption (1493 views)

April was a very busy month for me at work so I didn’t publish any new posts. The posts I’ve published so far this year (with the number of views they’ve received) are:

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Transparency report (2016)
  2. Blogging as an academic
  3. Why I blog
  4. Sustaining Community blog – 2015
  5. About me
  6. 7 principles guiding my work
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Donald Trump the musical (with Tim Minchin)

I’m a big fan of Tim Minchin, and I am quite scared that Donald Trump is the president of the USA, so this sketch on the Late Late Show appealed to me.

Even though we live in serious times, humour is a wonderful way to express our concern and outrage at some of the things happening in the USA.

In the humour, there is a serious message:

Just because I find myself in this story,
In the next election you can, change it for me.
If you think the ending is fixed already,
You might as well be saying,
You think that we’re OK,

And that’s not right!
And if it’s not right!
You have to set it right! (Lyrics available from the Late Late Show with James Corden).

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Five things that scare me about Trump as president
  2. Song for Sunday – When I grow up (from Matilda)
  3. The paradox of inconsequence
  4. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  5. Give Frank a Break! (A humorous video about the serious issue of plastic pollution)

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

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Principles of effective parent engagement in early childhood education

(Photo: Siewerin)

The engaging diverse families project of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identified principles of family engagement in early childhood education, collected case studies of good practice and developed resources to help programs more effectively engage families in children’s early learning.

The six principles of effective parent engagement they identify for early childhood education service are: Continue reading

Posted in Families & parenting, Schools, Working with communities | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A continuum of engagement: A focus on the individual to a focus on the collective

A continuum of engagement

A definition of community engagement by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning [1] reminds us that community engagement has a focus on the collective rather than the individual:

Community engagement… is a planned process with the specific purpose of working with identified groups of people, whether they are connected by geographic location, special interest or affiliation, to address issues affecting their well-being. Linking the term ‘community’ to ‘engagement’ serves to broaden the scope, shifting the focus from the individual to the collective, with associated implications for inclusiveness, to ensure consideration is given to the diversity that exists within any community (p. 3).

Moore, McDonald, McHugh-Dillon, and West [2] argue that:

It is important to note that the difference between engaging individuals and engaging communities is more than just an economy of scale. A community is more than simply a group of individuals. We engage communities in order to improve outcomes for communities and we seek improved outcomes for communities not only as a means of improving outcomes for individual, but also to bring about change in the community itself: to improve the social fabric that provides us with a sense of belonging and connection. (p. 6) Continue reading

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The story of microfibres

The latest video from the makers of The Story of Stuff focuses on microfibres.

The use of synthetic fibres has been steadily increasing with two-thirds of new clothing now being made from synthetic fibres.


(Source: Textile Beat)

Microfibres in oceans and waterways are an increasing problem. A recent study found that when synthetic jackets are washed in a washing machine, they release an average of 1.7 grams of microfibres each wash. While waste water treatment plants capture many of the microfibres, up to 40% enter our waterways and oceans. Continue reading

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Updates to the reading list on ABCD

Asset-based community development I’ve just updated the reading list on ABCD (over 100 resources). I’ve added nine articles or other resources. Most of them are fairly old (still worth looking at) but some of them are quire recent. Please let me know of any other material you think should be added.

The material I’ve added is:

Ashford, G., & Patkar, S. (2001). The positive path: Using appreciative inquiry in rural Indian communities. Manitoba, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development. Available from

Cameron, J., & Gibson, K. (2001). Shifting focus: Alternative pathways for communities and economies. A resource kit. Melbourne: Latrobe City and Monash University. Available from Continue reading

Posted in Good articles/links, Strengths-based approaches & ABCD, Working with communities | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Graphic depictions of the Spectrum of Public Participation

The Spectrum of Public Participation (Image by Yvonne Hollandy collected by Tim Bonnemann)

The Spectrum of Public Participation (Image by Yvonne Hollandy collected by Tim Bonnemann)

Tim Bonnemann, the founder of Intellitics and a previous board member of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) in the USA, has been collecting graphic depictions of the Spectrum of Public Participation and its variations for a number of years. You can find his impressive collection of over 60 images here.

It is interesting to see the ways in which people have tried to adapt the Spectrum. Sometimes they have used the original levels with their corresponding goals and promises, and just changed the graphic design. Sometimes they have kept it largely the same but with some minor changes to terms (e.g., partnerships instead of collaborate). Sometimes they have tried adding new levels or made other quite significant changes. Continue reading

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