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The Little Yellow Book / How lovely to have you here

A new life is warmly welcomed in Germany, and the government is actively participating in giving it a good start.

Photo of Arjan Tupan
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In Germany, a lot of things in the new life are pre-arranged, specifically when it comes to tests and check-ups. To help new parents, every child is given a Little Yellow Book, in which the findings of all the pre-planned tests and checked can be recorded. This is organised nation-wide.

Of course, children have to be registered with the proper authorities. In Germany, the municipal youth department is responsible for the wellbeing of children, and they are obviously aware of all registered children. I’m not sure how different several municipalities operate, but our municipality not only sent us reminders for the check-ups, urging us to make the proper appointment with the paediatrician. They actually did something even better. In a program titled “Wie schön dass du da bist”, or “How lovely to have you here”, staff of the youth department actively contacted parents of a new child, to schedule a house visit. During that visit, they would give a small gift for the child but more importantly, provide information in several languages on parenting. Where to find the official institutions, contact information for day care, other types of care institutions, but also where to find the fun things to do with children. This serves one goal of the visit: to help parents of a new born on their way. The other goal, was a bit more hidden, I think. It’s about assessing who needs extra care and attention. Overall, I believe this approach to be very child-friendly.In the Netherlands, there’s a similar booklet, the Groei Gids (or growth guide). Both are pictured above.

A third thing to help parents on their way, is the habit of having a “Hebamme” in the home. This person, comparable to a mid-wive, but focused on the time after birth, comes to your home, to coach you in changing diapers, feeding and so on. Also, they monitor the health of a newborn in the first days/weeks of their life at home.

All in all, I think new life in Germany is very well supported by the government. Some other places could very likely take an example from this.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can governments in other countries learn from what is happening in Germany, and to a lesser extent in The Netherlands. Now, as I understand it, some countries, such as the US, have a culture that does not appreciate a too invasive government. How can other organisations play a role in supporting and embracing new life?

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

This research relates to all parents, and therefore also to the under-resourced mom. Financed by public money, the German system treats everybody the same, without charging fees if you can't afford them. Another persona is, of course, the health care worker, as they are deeply involved in the whole eco-system.

Tell us about yourself:

Dad with experience in at least 2 countries and an OpenIDEO veteran.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Arjan!

It is great to have another inspiring post from you! I hope I get to see you in the ideas phase as well.

Do these government services help parents connect with other parents in the area? What do you think of the Finnish Baby Box Program ?

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks, Kate. I just read the contribution and commented on it. I love the initiative, and moreover, the Finns I know and spoke to about this, were all quite enthusiastic about it.