Different types of community-based interventions address recurring problems among specific demographic groups. As implied by the name, community-based interventions target more significant portions of the population. They address issues among these groups categorized into the same demographic and share the same problems. Groups are organized by regional trends, age, parental status, education level, socioeconomic status, or other factors. This article will review several types of community-based interventions and the advantages and disadvantages of this method.
Types of Community-Based Interventions
Before implementing or even planning a community-wide program, social workers must first identify the need. Especially if grants and other funding options are in play, it’s usually not enough to propose a program on observation alone. Step one is to identify a problem and objectively demonstrate its negative impact on the community. This means researching disease or mortality rates, crime rates, and whatever other metrics your program seeks to change. Without a thoughtful and critical research foundation, the program may fall short of its objectives.
With that in mind, the following types of programs are in many cities and towns. Note that each of these represents a type of program and that specific objectives and methods will vary based on the population, the problem, environmental circumstances, and other factors.
Parental Education Programs
Social workers believe that they can address multiple societal problems at the most fundamental level by supporting and educating parents in low-income areas. For example, the Head Start program empowers parents in several ways. This program teaches parenting skills, network-building, and stress management. The latter two may seem less relevant, but low-income parents tend to experience social isolation and frustration at work (or in the job search), negatively affecting their children’s learning and development outcomes. Furthermore, parents who are incapable of finding and retaining jobs strain the welfare system.
Workers should apply the same insightful and sensitive approach to program implementation. A classroom-style lecture, for example, is ineffective with low-income parents. This type of community-based intervention and all others need to deliver their services appropriately to the population if they want to be effective.
Public Health Programs
The most popular community-based intervention is the public health program. These programs can focus on general health and fitness or a specific community. Examples are the COPD community or the HIV/AIDS community. The populations and problems targeted by this type of community-based intervention form a lengthy list, including topics listed below.
- Childhood obesity
- Coronary Heart Disease
The format of the intervention itself is just as open-ended as the number of health disorders targeted by these programs. As mentioned, proper research will identify the best strategy. Ideally, the program meets participants in their environments. For this reason, school- and work-based health initiatives are commonly used.
- Discounted gym memberships for employees
- Weight-loss contests and incentives for employees (bonus time-off, etc.)
- Fitness games, contests, prizes, etc. for students
Objective data has proven at length how education impacts both income and unemployment rates. Moreover, on both a city-wide and national level, these figures strongly influence several critical values and markets, such as welfare funding, GDP, the housing market, healthcare reimbursement, and much more. Education is at the heart of well-being at individual and enterprise levels.
Educational policy reform movements and awareness campaigns have spawned many community-based interventions in education. Dropout prevention programs, vocational training, primary skills curriculum, achievement tracking, and accelerated learning programs are just a few examples of these interventions. In addition to academic improvement, many of these programs aim to divert children in high-risk areas from crime-related activities.
Social workers will sometimes develop society-based interventions that promote social change through prevention if the environment and circumstances are appropriate. For example, instead of increasing a group’s access to a resource, this type of intervention seeks to discourage certain activities. The following formats are standard in this arena:
- Drug and gun amnesty days
- Adolescent pregnancy prevention
- Anti-gang initiatives
- Anti-drug initiatives
- Suicide prevention programs
As always, how these programs are brought to the public depends heavily upon that particular region and population’s characteristics. The objective data can offer important clues regarding the most effective program delivery method. For a program to comprehensively address a problem, it often has to root out the potentially unforeseen factors that cause it.
If a particular community of drug users chooses to buy and consume illicit drugs as a means of managing their chronic pain conditions, for example, simply railing against that specific drug without increasing this community’s access to cheap and legal pain-control options will not help.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Aside from failing to address the cause of the targeted problem, community-based interventions that are poorly researched or implemented are often accompanied by other disadvantages. For example, depending on funding, a particular program may rely heavily on volunteer labor, which isn’t always consistent. Therefore, this can increase attrition rates beyond the minimum acceptable standards. Additionally, the lack of appropriate follow-up when necessary can cause an otherwise helpful program to fail.
When properly planned and executed, society-based interventions can serve several important purposes. First and foremost, lasting social change. When the cause of the target behavior or problem is addressed sufficiently, a program can put systems in place that stay long after its conclusion, which is the ultimate goal.
Secondly, the results of society-based interventions can provide essential data for future program planning and research initiatives, even if they are negative. The success of any particular intervention can also act as a proving ground for policy proposals, influencing politicians to make decisions in favor of the successful bid. Finally, society-based programs can save lives endangered by epidemic-level disorders, violence, drugs, and other common problems even when the results aren’t permanent.