By Kim Siebert MacPhail
The Boston College School of Social Work’s Center for Social Innovation has featured Bedford Youth and Family Services (BYFS) in a report that highlights the groundbreaking work of 23 Massachusetts-based social services groups who are considered to be “master social innovators.”
Associate professor Marcie Pitt-Castouphes of the Social Work Center, one of the co-authors of the Boston College report, says that initiatives such those developed by Bedford Youth and Family “demonstrate the power of the entrepreneurial path to social innovation.”
BYFS was recognized, specifically, for five distinctive products and services:
- The BYFS “Celebrating Parenting” calendar;
- A social services resource guide, available in hardcopy or online: http://www.bedfordma.gov/index.php/publications ;
- Expanded parent education programming;
- Promotion of Bedford Families Unplugged;
- Spearheading the Bedford in Motion program http://www.town.bedford.ma.us/index.php/community/bedford-in-motion ?
With these initiatives, it was noted, BYFS broadened its capacity by providing additional programs and resources for new— as well as for existing— populations.
In the case of the parenting calendar, BYFS Director Sue Baldauf said that she got the idea when she saw a similar publication at a local printer’s shop where it was being published for an entirely different agency. Baldauf recognized the potential of this good idea and then applied it to her own program, creating a new resource for her constituency.
The calendar was so successful and considered such a valuable resource, Castouphes’ report said, that a counselor at one of Bedford’s schools decided to write a grant so that additional copies of the guide could be printed and distributed to every parent with a child in that school.
Regarding how Bedford Youth and Family Services develops such innovative programs and resources, Baldauf said, “I believe in collaboration and working together. We did a guide for block parties related to one coalition [http://www.bedfordma.gov/index.php/publications ]. We did a teen website to help kids find things to do in Bedford. We have [the] Bedford-In-Motion [project] and are working on a healthy community planning grant. This has led to further collaborations that have [in turn] encouraged community partnerships, people getting together and working together and living better together.”
The BYFS Parenting Calendar is produced every other year, mostly due to the need to save on printing costs, Baldauf said. The calendar comes in the form of a spiral-bound datebook, separated into weekly increments, with the days of the week on one page and parenting information on the facing page.
Some of the topics covered on the resource pages include “Rules for School Bus Safety,” “Ten Ways to Help Your Child Do Well in School,” “Fighting Siblings—What Do I Do?” and “Staying Calm During Stressful Parenting Moments.” The ages and stages covered are predominantly K-12, but broader subjects, such as “Understanding Your Rights in a Relationship,” are suitable for everyone, no matter how old or young.
Baldauf says that many of the parenting topics change from year to year, but some are so universal that they are repeated in each edition. The next calendar is now being proofed and will be available for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.