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Improving services for parents and families in Scotland
Voluntary and public sector stakeholders from across Scotland recently came together for the first About Families forum event to explore how research can inform the development of services for supporting parents, including families affected by disability.
Over 40 delegates from organisations working directly with families, including the PAS partnership, shared ideas about how research gathered by About Families about relationships and behaviour issues in parenting teenagers can lead to action to meet the changing needs of families.
A recurrent theme during the event was the need to make better use of existing resources for parents. This sentiment was the driving force behind the creation of About Families, which was formed in response to voluntary sector organisations' wishes to access and make use of existing research. In the current financial climate, making best use of existing resources to maximise effectiveness is even more crucial, particularly as reports indicate that more parents may need more support due to increasing pressures on family life.
A lack of government support for parents of teenagers was widely felt, with many delegates pointing to a 'policy gap' on parenting in general and parenting teenagers in particular. It was generally thought that resources and attention are directed towards the early years, and while delegates clearly recognised the value of this, they called for parenting to take a more prominent place on the policy agenda. Without such a presence, it was thought that sustainability and continuity of services would continue to be at risk. For supporting parents of disabled children, this issue was considered of particular risk during transition stages, which can be lengthy.
Another pressing theme was how to communicate findings and information about parenting teenagers to parents in ways which are engaging and accessible to different types of families. The importance of developing and providing services in a non-stigmatising and accessible way underlined much discussion.
Over the next few months, About Families will work with a number of these stakeholders to develop action plans to respond to the needs they have identified arising from the evidence around parenting teenagers. Together, these organisations and project staff will also explore how service users could be involved in developing services. We will continue to work with stakeholders to implement and then evaluate their action plans.
Some key themes arising from research review:
About Families is a partnership between the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR), Capability Scotland and Parenting across Scotland.
About Families is funded by the National Lottery through Big Lottery Fund.
More information: Karen Seditas, CRFR, email@example.com
Other articles published in our April 2011 newsletter: