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Neighborhood Informal Helping &
Assets Based Community Development (ABCD)

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Topic 12

Slide Show:
Informal Helping and Human Services
Powerpoint presentation (in html format)

Establishing an Institutional Collaboration
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People turn first to family, friends, and neighbors when problems arise in their lives. This "informal helping" is voluntary, spontaneous, individualized, flexible, based on self-reliance, and is reciprocal in nature. Such helping breaks down barriers created "provider" and "client" relationships and helps overcome the fragmentation and crisis orientation of social services. Informal helping is most effective when social networks have the greatest size, diversity, quality, and interconnectedness. This is the very definition of social capital. We need to identify, support, and enhance neighborhood helping networks, and establish collaborations between human service agencies and informal helping networks.


Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope, The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood (Boston: South End Press, 1994), Chapter 7, "Holistic Development: Human, Economic, Environmental", pp. 169-202.
Reading #1

Charles Froland, Diane Pancoast, Nancy Chapman, Priscilla Kimboko, Helping Networks and Human Services (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1981), pp. 17-54, 137-149.
Reading #8 (pdf)

Atelia I Melaville and Martin J. Blank, What It Takes: Structuring Interagency Partnerships to Connect Children and Families with Comprehensive Services, Washington: Education and Human Services Consortium, 1991, "Part One: Where We Are - Where We Need to Be", pp. 6-19.
Reading #18 (pdf)

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Selected Readings (pdf)
Informal Helping and Human Services

Subtopics inside:

Holistic development at Dudley Street
Formal social service provision
"Ecological" approach to social work practice
Informal helping networks
Neighborhood based social service planning and delivery
Human services consortiums


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Dr. Louis Colombo & Ken Balizer, AICP