“Creating equal opportunities is a shared responsibility where municipalities can make a considerable contribution.”

Meet Kirsten Witte, from the European Social Services Conference Advisory Committee. She represents Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany’s foundation that carries out projects, studies, and events to stimulate debate and ideas for social change. Kirsten is Programme Director for the 'Liveable Communities Programme', and through her work, she contributes to the Foundation’s mission of inspiring people and shape the future.

An example of how the Foundation works is the ‘Leave no child behind!’ project. Since 2012, the Foundation has partnered with the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and 40 municipalities to improve children's prospects for development, regardless of their background, and provide them equal opportunities.

Kristen tells us that each municipality develops local prevention chains with representatives from public administration, relevant agencies, and third sector to improve the effectiveness of local support and interventions. Bertelsmann Stiftung then publishes insights and findings from the accompanying academic research on local prevention efforts.

Kristen emphasises the importance of local preventative services and how German research shows that disadvantaged children's educational opportunities can improve considerably with few preventive measures.

We asked Kristen how ESN has supported her and Bertelsmann Stiftung colleagues in learning from others, and this was her answer:

“Thanks to ESN, we can share our project's results with other ESN members in many different formats. At the upcoming European Social Services Conference, we will present our initiative and discuss findings from our study ‘Making Prevention Work’. We highly appreciate ESN activities as we learn from other ESN members experience, establish contacts and illustrate our learnings to professionals from all over Europe.”