Family Support is a broad term and encompasses a range of approaches and interventions. The current definition used in Ireland was developed by Pinkerton et al (2004) and it defines Family Support as:
Both a style of work and a set of activities which re-enforce positive informal social networks through integrated programmes. These programmes combine statutory, voluntary, community and private services and are generally provided to families in their own homes and communities. The primary focus is on early intervention aiming to promote and protect the health, wellbeing and rights of all children, young people and their families, paying particular attention to those who are vulnerable or at risk.
Pinkerton et al (2004) also developed a set of practice principles based on national and international evidence that inform practice. These principles are used in current policy documents on children’s services.
Family Support Principles:
The principles of Family Support are:-
- Working in partnership with children, families, professionals and communities
- Family Support interventions are needs led, and strive for minimum intervention required.
- Require a clear focus on wishes, feelings, safety and well-being of children
- Family Support reflects a strengths-based perspective which is mindful of resilience as a characteristic of many children’s and families lives.
- Effective interventions are those which strengthen informal support networks.
- Family Support is accessible and flexible in respect of timing, setting and changing needs, and can incorporate both child protection and out of home care.
- Facilitates self-referral and multi-access referral paths.
- Involves service users and front-line providers in planning, delivery and evaluation on an on-going basis.
- Promotes social inclusion, addressing issues of ethnicity, disability and rural/urban communities
- Measures of success are routinely included to facilitate evaluation based on attention to outcomes for service users, and thereby facilitate quality services based on best practice.
Family Support should aim to enhance rather than diminish the confidence of those being supported. It requires professionals to behave as respectful allies as opposed to patronising experts. It needs to “wrap around” the particular circumstances and child rearing stage of the family.
Family Support Project
Family Support Project was developed in the Service in 2017, with funding sourced through Tusla. The Project works in a variety of ways to provide supports for young people and families in the town of Roscrea.
Referrals can be made by a wide variety of sources including self referrals. The family support worker is there to providing one to one support, parenting programmes both group and individual, Meitheals, a listening ear, a signpost service when needed, or always good for a cuppa.