CHHSM Visits Diakonie RWL
Contributed by Diakonie RWL.
Surprised by the Diversity of Social Work
Whether in stables, restaurants, kitchens or closets, Danielle Bartz learned a lot during her behind-the-scenes look at social work in Germany. From The Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) of the United Church of Christ, Danielle is a guest at the Diakonie RWL and its member institutions. The associations have partnered since 2009 on diaconal work on both sides of the Atlantic. They can learn a lot from each other.
Before her trip, Bartz equated horses with liberty and self-determination. After visiting the stables of the Neukirchener Education Association, it became clear that horses are ideally suited to provide children with disabilities joy and self-confidence. Horseback riding in an integral part of social work for children and youth with the Neukirchener Association. Bartz was amazed. “Such opportunities are not a common part of education in the U.S.,” she says.
Bartz was on the way to understanding the diaconal work of CHHSM’s partner association. CHHSM has 75 members with about 360 institutions offering several million people in the U.S. social support. This support ranges from health care and child and youth services, to elder care and services for people with disabilities.
The first stop on Bartz’ mission was the Neukirchener Education Association, which has served neglected and abused children for 170 years. It serves approximately 3,000 young people. “The care is very diverse,” Bartz says. “For us, children and young people grow up mostly in foster families. They do not stay more than two months in a home.”
Bartz marveled at the variety of social work in Germany. “I’m always surprised at how much the state supports your commitment to socially disadvantaged families and children, for the homeless and poor,” Bartz says. “Our work is largely based on donations, because the government gives us very little funding.” The reason: The neutrality of the U.S. forbids religions organizations from providing funds for charitable tasks. In addition, there is no comparable system in the U.S. of social insurance. A key issue in our work is fundraising.”
Linking social work with employment is fairly uncommon in the United States, says Bartz. In this regard, Americans could learn a lot from the Germans, she says. Foreign to her, however, was the special treatment of disabled people in Germany. “The common teaching of children with and without disabilities is a matter of course,” Bartz says. The big issue is inclusion. She was also surprised by ongoing discussions on the refugee crisis and the immigration laws in Germany and Europe.
“Danielle’s visit has led us once again to know just how good our welfare state on the whole works, “says Helga Siemens Weibring, executive director of family education at the Diakonie RWL.We could learn a lot about fundraising and the good networking of CHHSM,” says Hans-Wilhelm Fricke Hein, the Neukirchener Education Association board chair. He wants a stronger partnership between employees of the national associations, but also employees of the social services. He says a start has been made with an association member now working in the U.S.
We could learn a lot about fundraising and the good networking of CHHSM,” says Hans-Wilhelm Fricke Hein, the Neukirchener Education Association board chair. He wants a stronger partnership between employees of the national associations, but also employees of the social services. He says a start has been made with an association member now working in the U.S.
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