Internationally, resilience research with children and youth at risk of poor psychosocial outcomes is demonstrating the value of supportive resources within the community. In particular, this research points to the importance of both formal service provision, as well as informal physical and relational resources located within communities, in supporting positive outcomes for youth. The implication is that if we want to systematically and effectively address causes and outcomes related to the numerous concerns regarding youth today (e.g. bullying, suicide, sexual violence, criminal engagement, and radicalisation), we need to pay greater attention to the contexts in which youth live and function. In short, we need to attend to community resilience.
The International Community Development and Resilience Consortium (ICDRC)
The International Community Development and Resilience Consortium (ICDRC) brings together researchers and practitioners from around the globe who are researching and working in community development as it pertains to contextual resilience and positive youth outcomes. Through our respective research and practice initiatives, we seek to understand what comprises community resilience; how community resilience is developed and sustained; how community resilience can respond to the needs of youth who are vulnerable to, or at risk of, poor psychosocial outcomes, promoting increased positive outcomes; and, how community resilience can support enhanced family resilience and functioning as a related youth support. The intent of the ICDRC is to review our collective knowledge of community development, community resilience, youth resilience, and related youth outcomes; identify gaps in our understanding and knowledge base; and develop related practice, research and evaluation questions to further our understanding. We are doing this to establish a better understanding of what community resilience comprises; how community resilience is developed and sustained; how community resilience can respond to the needs of youth who are vulnerable to or at risk of poor psychosocial outcomes, promoting increased positive outcomes; and, how community resilience can support enhanced family functioning.
By sharing and integrating our resources (what we know and what we are doing) we serve as a conduit between what we know (based largely in the academy) and advocacy for the implementation of this knowledge (policy, practice and the public). Through this network of researchers and service providers we able to proactively highlight to policy makers and program funders what does and does not work in terms of supporting child and youth outcomes; and advocate for the resilience supporting resources that are shown to effectively facilitate good outcomes. Underlying this advocacy work is a focus on shifting how knowledge regarding children and youth resilience together with family and community resilience is produced. Co-production in the research process is considered critical to establishing impactful understanding of effective support and intervention resources. Additionally, central to the effectiveness of this advocacy work is our exploration of why certain types of existing knowledge fail to reach policy makers and funders, or why, in instances where it does, it is not integrated into knowledge applications.
The goal of the ICDRC is to establish an applied knowledge base and global research and advocacy program that will 1) be aligned with the needs of children and youth, their communities, and service providers; and 2) be shared with policy makers and funders in ways that are meaningful. In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to ensure that multiple voices shape development of both our research programs and ensuing knowledge base.