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Country, Date of election

Austria 2021



Katharina Kruppa founded Grow Together to transform early childhood development support for families from high-risk backgrounds through a holistic approach guided by scientific methods and deep empathy. Through her work, Katharina is improving a new-born’s experience in life and healing deeply rooted trauma of parents from high-risk environments.


Children that are born into a multi-risk family constellation, like drug abuse or violence, and have remained in this environment without external, protective interventions show developmental delays, as well as emotionally and physically neglect. In the worst case, severe signs of maltreatment. There is an empirical correlation between massive adverse childhood experiences and extensive personal impairments such as psychological disorders, chronic illnesses, limitations in cognitive abilities and higher incidence of delinquent behaviour. In Austria 5% of the population have experienced extreme negative childhood experiences.


Of the 50 cases that Grow Together has accompanied so far, more than one-third of the families treated did not need any further support after three years. Whilst there are a few cases where separation between children and parents was inevitable right at the beginning of the treatment, the majority of the families, needed only remote support after three years. By its early intervention, Grow Together’s programme is also reducing the long-term costs of curative treatment of parents and children, for insurers and the state, as it is reducing the negative long-term consequences of adverse childhood experiences and traumatic experiences for parents. In an effort to attach a concrete value to this, Grow Together has been measured to have a SROI of 22.16.


Katharina has developed an approach and mindset that enables young families to develop a stable and close relationship with secure attachment figures, the key element of a child’s early development. Katharina, a psychotherapist and paediatric by education, realised the importance of intervening already before childbirth to have tremendous outcomes on a baby’s future and the wellbeing of the family. Grow Together becomes already involved at the time of pregnancy. For this, Katharina has built a high-frequency, long-term, and high-quality care approach that ensures that parenting patterns and attitudes, sometimes ingrained over generations, are broken and children develop according to the norm.


Katharina is now following a clearly defined strategy to spread Grow Together’s attitude and approach to influence (future) professionals in the sector. She does so by setting up educational programmes with academic institutions as well as shifting the structures of the sector by lobbying for more coordinated baby-care work and funding to let similar initiatives emerge. At the same time, Katharina is working on media campaigns to spread the Grow-Together attitude far beyond high-risk families.


With increasing experience working on the parents’ attachment towards their new-borns, she realised that early intervention are the most crucial factors in many catastrophes and complex unhealthy relationships. Therefore, it increasingly, hurt her to see cases, from high-risk backgrounds, come into the clinic where she could not make a difference anymore, as the parents had come seeking help at a stage, where often separation as the only option. With her background as a paediatric and psychologist for individuals and families and specialization in systemic therapy for individuals, couples, and families, she decided to look further into a potential concept that she could implement into the system that she knew very well.

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