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Building on 5 years of mutual learning and exchange, Eurochild launched its Compendium of Inspiring Practices on Early Intervention and Prevention in Family and Parenting Support last week.
It presents 12 case studies across Europe, which offer a small sample of services that have had a demonstrable positive impact on the children and families they aim to serve. They were selected because they demonstrate an innovative response to unmet need and/ or a political drive towards a different way of doing things and because of their potential to use the learning or to replicate the practice more widely within their country or across Europe.
The Compendium brings together diverse examples of inspiring practice but some common themes can be identified as well as the policy recommendations they underpin.
All case studies:
1) Family and parenting support is crucial to fighting child poverty and promoting child well-being. However, to maximise effectiveness it needs to be complemented by effective intervention to tackle the root causes of poverty and social exclusion, and address structural barriers and inequalities. Parenting interventions should sit alongside wider family support and be part of a comprehensive package that enhances children’s rights and well-being.
2) Family and parenting support includes a wide range of actions and services that help parents develop the skills they need to carry out their parenting role and that support children within families. It can range from low threshold advice and support to all parents to very targeted, specialised services for the most vulnerable. However, all services aimed at family and parenting support must be non-stigmatising and empowering in their approach, have a participatory and strengths-based orientation, be accessible to all but built around a model of progressive universalism. Their conception must be underpinned by a child-rights approach.
3) Family policies and parent support services and programmes should be evidence-based and reflect best practice. Against a backdrop of public spending cuts, it is essential to show what works to improve children’s outcomes. However, evidence of effectiveness in early intervention and prevention in family support can come from a range of sources. We caution against a blind faith in randomised control trials, and strongly advocate a balanced perspective in evidence based approaches which are capable of reflecting critically on quantitative and qualitative data and analysis in assessing practice.