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Family education and support for families at psychosocial risk in Europe: Evidence from a survey of international experts

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There is overwhelming consensus among policy makers, academics, and professionals about the need to support families in their childrearing tasks. Consequently, European countries have been encouraged to develop family support interventions aimed at guaranteeing children's rights, targeting particularly those children in situations of psychosocial risk. While a certain amount of evidence exists regarding how family support is generally delivered in certain European countries, with a particular focus on parenting initiatives, this paper aims to take existing evidence one step further by providing an updated review focusing on two core components of the Council of Europe's Recommendation on Positive Parenting: families at psychosocial risk as the target population, and family education and support initiatives as the delivery format. The scope of the study was therefore broad, in both geographical and conceptual terms. An online survey was conducted with experts from 19 European countries to gather information regarding how they perceive family education and support initiatives for families at psychosocial risk. Both quantitative and qualitative data were analysed by computing frequencies/percentages and by following a thematic synthesis method, respectively. The results revealed both similarities and disparities as regards provider profiles, intervention characteristics, and quality standards. Practical implications are discussed, such as the need to diversify initiatives for at‐risk families in accordance with the tenets of progressive universalism, the ongoing need for an evidence‐based, pluralistic approach to programmes, and the skills and qualifications required in the family support workforce. This study constitutes a first step towards building a common family support framework at a European level, which would encompass family support and parenting policies aimed at families at psychosocial risk.
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Keywords: European and International Patterns of Social Care; child welfare; evidence‐based practice; family support; parenting interventions; risk

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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