Conceptual Framework → Principles


To carry out their mission, AOK Networks must (1) strengthen their capacity as a Network, (2) enhance service delivery, and (3) improve the system of services and supports that meets the needs of, and improves outcomes for, expecting parents as well as children birth to 5 and their families. AOK Networks work with 3 sets of principles to guide practice and behavior in each of these areas.

Community Engagement

The following principles help AOK Network partners increase their capacity to work well together.

  • People support what they create.
  • People act most responsibly when they care.
  • Conversation is the way humans have always thought together. In conversation we discover shared meanings.
  • To change the conversation change who is in the conversation.
  • Expect leadership to come from anywhere.
  • Focusing on what’s working gives us energy and creativity. Ask what’s possible, not what’s wrong.
  • The wisdom resides within us.
  • Everything’s a failure in the middle. Change occurs in cycles.
  • Learning is the only way we become smarter about what we do.
  • Meaningful work is a powerful human motivator.
  • Humans can handle anything as long as we’re together.
  • Generosity, forgiveness, and love, these are the most important elements in a community.

*From The Berkana Institute & Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Family Support

The following principles help service providers respect and honor parents/caregivers’ inherent strengths, wisdom and capacity to care for their families. These principles help communities improve the overall quality of service delivery.

  • Staff and families work together in relationships based upon equality and respect.
  • Staff enhance families’ capacity to support the growth and development of all family members – adults, youth, and children.
  • Families are resources to their own members, to other families, to programs, and to communities.
  • Programs affirm and strengthen families’ cultural, racial, and linguistic identities and enhance their ability to function in a multicultural society.
  • Programs are embedded in their communities and contribute to the community-building process.
  • Programs advocate with families for services and systems that are fair, responsive, and accountable to the families served.
  • Practitioners work with families to mobilize formal and informal resources to support family development.
  • Programs are flexible and continually responsive to emerging family and community issues.

System building

These system building principles guide AOK Network partners in building a comprehensive, system of services and supports that increases families’ satisfaction with the system while improving service access, quality, equity, and capacity.

  • Proactive: The system promotes the growth and well being of all young children.
  • Holistic: The system is comprehensive and addresses the full range of a young child’s developmental needs.
  • Inclusive: The system integrates all community services for pregnant women, young children, and their parents/caregivers.
  • Strength-based: The system builds upon the strengths of families.
  • Culturally sensitive: The system is respectful and sensitive to the diverse needs of families.
  • User-friendly: The system is voluntary as well as easy to access and use.
  • Family involved: Families are involved in the development of the system.
  • Coordinated: Services are aligned and connected so that families can easily access services across typical service domains.
  • Outcomes-based: The system improves outcomes.
  • Cooperative: Development of the system is a cooperative, community effort.