Holistic health promotion in Hungarian schools: short summary

In Hungary the holistic health promotion (HHP) for schools is prescribed by law since 2012 and it means a holistic, whole school approach where health promotion has to be part of the every day life of the school - with participation of the whole school, parents and the public environment. HHP contains four health promoting tasks for teachers to do in their every day work:

  1. Healthy eating - potentially based on local food products;
  2. Daily physical education fulfilling health promotion criteria and other forms of physical activity;
  3. Use of appropriate pedagogic methods (including also the use of arts) to enhance mental health;
  4. Improving health literacy and health competencies of the children.

 

(In this network social sector gives help to teachers in doing their 3rd and 4th health promotion task of holistic health promotion /HHP, see short summary in the frame above/: improving mental health; developing health literacy and health competencies of children.)

Why was kindergarten and school social work introduced?

In recent years social changes have highlighted such problems that become visible when children first get into community. Prevoiusly, the increase in negative tendencies was detected by teachers in schools but over the past few years new problems were shifted to younger ages as well e.g. rise in the number of children having problems with social behaviour, aggression and/or children with mental problems.

The kindergarten and school social assistant in public institutions as a professional social and child welfare service can provide help in this situation. The emphasis is put on the daily presence of the social worker having the task of prevention, handling cases of children at risk, developing competences, mediating between parents and children, children and teachers, parents and teachers, making and maintaining contacts with other institutions. The social worker also participates in contributing to the children’s health development and prevention. The involvement of the social professional can make the life of the public education institutions more balanced in recognizing and solving  problems, help in the socialization of children and improve their school performance even reducing the possibility of early school leaving. In long term the social work contributes promoting the upbringing of children in their own families.

The kindergarten and school social worker helps children, their parents and the public education institutions by social work with groups in prevention, which can be targeted to aggression and bullying prevention and management and the reinforcement of parent competences. The kindergarten and school social worker also has to provide community activities or gets involved in school programmes e.g. health day, environment protection, financial awareness programmes.

The key to the success of kindergarten and school social work is the provision of general and special services easily used and close to the target group, moreover, the employment of professionals having third level qualifications who quickly, innovatively and flexibly react to changes.

The kindergarten and school workers have those skills and knowledge which make it possible for them to early recognize and avert risks in children’s development.

The countrywide implementation was preceded by the tender construction no. EFOP-3.2.9-16 “Development of Kindergarten and School Social Work” with a HUF 2.07 billion budget. During the implementation period of the project the content of the kindergarten and school social work, the detection and connection of the measures and the problems and the appearance in public education scenes was determined as primary tasks.

The aim of the project was to improve the social wellbeing and life quality of kindergarten and school pupils (even the socially handicapped) by reinforcing primary prevention, creating the conditions, professional content and core and determining human and financial resources of this tas

On the 1st of September, 2018 the kindergarten and school social worker service was introduced into the Act XXXI of 1997 on the Protection of Children and Guardianship (Child Protection Act) according to which every family and child welfare centre maintained by the district capital municipality has to provide this service.

The legal basis for the qualification and staff number of kindergarten and school workers was also determined in 149/1997. (IX.10.) Government’s Decree on Guardianship and Child Protection and Guardianship Procedures. It is compulsory to employ 1 kindergarten and school social worker by every 1000 kindergarten and school pupils in all 197 districts of the country. The kindergarten and school social worker is a supporting person working in a kindergarten, a school or a boarding school.

Summarizing:

From September 2018 the comprehensive introduction of social assistance in kindergartens and schools was implemented, for which the central budget provides a resource of HUF 5.6 billion. The tasks will be accomplished by the family and child welfare centres under the operation of the district seat's municipality. One social worker per 1000 children is required.

The kindergarten and school social assistants are working in kindergartens and schools and in boarding schools (dormitories).

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