ISOTIS discussed promising parenting support programmes at the ESFR congress

ISOTIS researchers addressing promising parenting support programmes presented their studies at the 9th European Society on Family Relations (ESFR) congress.

The team highlighted that despite many European countries have set up approaches to support families of young children, to promote the quality of the home learning environment and to strengthen preschool-parent partnership, understanding the key features underlying successful interventions is still needed.

An overview of the available parenting and family services in the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal was presented. ISOTIS researchers Joana Cadima, Gil Nata (both from University of Porto), and Yvonne Anders (Freie Universität Berlin) informed that:

"Although in all countries family support encompasses a broad range of services that cross several sectors, the participating countries vary considerably in terms of priorities and approaches to parenting support. While in all countries, some kind of parenting support is provided, in some of the countries, parenting support is part of a clear strategic framework that integrates a broad range of early intervention and prevention services for families, with a trend towards more holistic approaches to young people and their parents and an emphasis on greater state engagement with parents. Nevertheless, across countries, several challenges remain, in particular in regard to outreach, home language support and equal access to high quality provision." (ESFR 2018 - Book of Abstracts, page 15)

The team detailed studies on promising programmes in the Netherlands, Portugal, England and Germany.

The Step programme, in the Netherlands, was presented by ISOTIS researchers Ryanne Francot, Martine Broekhuizen, and Paul Leseman (Utrecht University). The programme offers support to families with low-income and/or with an immigrant background, with children aged 1 to 6 years. Its goal is to increase the educational chances of the children by stimulating the home learning environment and by supporting the partnership with preschools or schools. Valued aspects of the programme are its outreach strategy, which includes the use of local contact persons speaking the mother tongue of the families, and their use of ICT-based resources for supporting the families.

Family Skills was the programme from the English context presented by ISOTIS researchers Katharina Ereky-Stevens and Ester Saghy (University of Oxford). It is a national family and literacy programme targeted at migrant families - specifically parents/carers of reception aged children with English as an additional language. The programme addresses with families the benefits of bilingualism, the importance of home literacy and the value of using parents’ first language to facilitate child language learning. The goal is to increase the support children receive at home.

The (Class)rooms of glass from both sides was the Portuguese programme addressed by ISOTIS researchers Sofia Guichard, Joana Cadima, and Gil Nata (University of Porto). It is a local programme targeting Roma parents experiencing financial hardship. It aims to engage Roma children in preschool and to support their families, by carrying out playful learning activities on the streets of the neighbourhoods, where anyone from the community can watch and participate. The programme is known for its outreach strategies, using transparency (rooms of glass) and openness as means to gain parents’ trust, and to build strong family-school partnerships. A multidisciplinary team, in collaboration with local partners, carries out the activities on a weekly basis.

Chancenreich, in Germany, was the programme presented by ISOTIS researchers Mareike Trauernicht, Franziska Cohen, and Yvonne Anders (Freie Universität Berlin). It is a regional programme that aims to enhance parenting skills and child outcomes by offering a variety of approaches to the parents of children of up to 3 years of age. It uses a modular approach and although it seeks to reach out especially to parents in more vulnerable situations, it is open to all parents of newborns in the town. It offers a monetary incentive to all families who participate in at least five mandatory modules (e.g. the completion of one parenting training course).

Read the abstracts of the presentations here

The congress theme was: “Families through the lens of diversity”. It took place at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto, on September 5-8th. Visit the congress page here