Family Support

Family Support is recognised as both a style of work and a set of activities which reinforce 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, well-being and rights of all children, young people and their families, paying particular attention to those who are vulnerable or at risk.

The Family Support approach is underpinned by a number of social science theories: social support which refers to the range of supports required by all to assist in coping with day-to-day challenges; the social ecology within which families live, the interdependence between individuals and this wider context,  and the social capital which is accrued through these interactions; the centrality of the attachments formed between parents and their children; and the resilience displayed in managing adversity.       

As a practice Family Support is underpinned by a set of practice principles which include working in partnership with children, young people and parents as well as partnership amongst agencies and practitioners.  Interventions with family members that are based on need and are informed by their views and wishes is a central feature of the Family Support approach. A focus on the existing strengths and resilience of children, young people and families with attention paid to accessing their informal networks of support is advocated. From a service provision perspective an accessible and flexible approach with families encouraged to self-refer is recommended as best practice.

Family Support Research

Currently our Family Support research agenda is dominated by a study on Tusla’s Development and Mainstreaming Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. This is a new programme of action being undertaken by Tulsa, the Child and Family Agency as part of its National Service Delivery Framework, with funding support from the Atlantic Philanthropies, Ireland. The programme seeks to transform child and family services in Ireland by embedding prevention and early intervention into the culture and operation of Tusla.  Tulsa’s programme of action is supported by a series of guidance documents  which were developed in partnership by the centre and Tusla / HSE.  For more information on the Development and Mainstreaming programme please click here 

The centre has also undertaken a series of research studies on parenting support, for example:

Research in the area of community based family support, for example:

Research within the context of child protection and welfare, for example:

At State policy level, Centre staff have also made significant contributions to the development of policy documents, assisting in the development of The Agenda for Children’s Services: A Policy Handbook

Centre staff have also produced a series of academic outputs towards building the knowledge base in Family Support in the form of monographs, edited collections, book chapters and journal articles.

Family Support Books:

Family Support Book Launch‌     Family Support reflective practice‌   Family Support Direction from Diversity Cover‌  Family Support Carmel Devaney

Family Support Journal Articles:

  • Voice and Meaning: The Wisdom of Family Support Veterans' 
    Devaney, C. and Dolan, P. (2015) 'Voice and Meaning: The Wisdom of Family Support Veterans'. Child And Family Social Work[Details]
  • Family support, social capital, resilience and adolescent coping' 
    Pinkerton, J,Dolan, P (2007) 'Family support, social capital, resilience and adolescent coping'. Child & Family Social Work, 12 :219-228[Details]
  • Conceptualising Child and Family Support: the Contribution of Honneth’s Theory of Recognition' 
    Dolan, P., Houston, S. (2008) 'Conceptualising Child and Family Support: the Contribution of Honneth’s Theory of Recognition'. Children and Society, 22 (6):458-469 [Details]