Contents and Abstracts
Parenting programmes have been provided to a wide range of child and parent groups across a number of countries, but are they effective? This aim of this paper is to examine the findings from a number of systematic reviews that sum manse the best available research evidence on the impact of these programmes on a range of parental and child outcomes. In addition to examining the findings from systematic reviews, the paper also takes a selective look at the uptake of parenting programmes in the United Kingdom, the evidence for effectiveness and the efficacy of adopting a population-based approach to parent education.
The findings from systematic reviews indicate that parenting programmes can have a positive impact on a range of outcomes, including improved child behaviour, increased maternal self-esteem and relationship adjustment, improved mother — child interaction and knowledge and decreased maternal depression and stress. While there is a need for greater evaluation of the long-term impact of these programmes, preliminary evidence indicates that these positive results are maintained over time, with group-based, behaviourally orientated programmes tending to be more effective.
While several recent trials indicate that that these programmes can be effective within the United Kingdom, high drop-out rates may mean that they only reach a minority of parents. However, multi-level parent education strategies such as the Australian Triple P Positive Parenting Strategy that incorporate an array of mediums aimed at different levels of need may provide an opportunity to reach a wider range of parents. This approach is currently being evaluated in order to ascertain whether it is effective in improving child outcomes in the general population.
While there is no coherent strategy for parent training across the United Kingdom, within the Northern Ireland context there is a move towards the development of a family support strategy. While uptake of parent education and training is currently unknown the best available evidence highlights the positive impact that parent training can have, suggesting the importance of including parent education as one aspect of this strategy.
Changing Residential Child Care: A Systems Approach to
Consultation Training and Development.
In this article, the authors describe and illustrate their approach to consultancy, development and training in residential child care. When working together the authors form the MOSAIC Consortium and provide training and consultancy to residential child care services. The article draws on systems theory, systems thinking and the politics of child welfare to provide an analytic perspective that enables decision-making about the design of training and development interventions that promote good practice in this service setting. The theoretical perspective and intervention strategies are illustrated through case material.
Working With Street Children: A Child-centred Approach
This paper reviews the theoretical approaches that espouse a child-centred approach in intervening with street children. It focuses on two major themes, namely the rights of the child and client self-determination as proposed by Adler (Corey, 2001). The discussion acknowledges that providing street children with opportunities to participate in decision-making regarding their own lives is imperative. Notwithstanding their alleged marginalization, substantial motivation is provided for the adoption of a client-centred approach that upholds the rights of the child. The paper draws attention to the fact that despite the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), many street children experience deprivation with regard to their basic human needs. It is envisaged that whatever the circumstances for children being on the street, their involvement and participation in alleviating their plight will not be compromised.
Children’s Perspectives on Physical Discipline: A New
Ten children’s views from New Zealand were investigated on the use of physical discipline in a small study that was an adaptation of a larger study conducted in 1998 by Willow and Hyder in the United Kingdom. This paper reports on children’s views of smacking as a method of discipline in New Zealand families. A significant finding is that children’s reports of physical discipline are at odds with adult assumptions on the effects of the use of physical discipline.
Day Care Hopping: Stabilizing Day Care Options for Low-income Mothers through Subsidies Patricia Drentea, Suzanne Durham, Mercie Mwaria, Emily Norman & Juan Xi 381
We examined how to allocate a subsidy to low-income women that would stabilize children in day care at a Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The subsidy is to alleviate day care hopping (i.e. when parents move from day care to day care) leaving unpaid tuitions at each place. Day care hopping is really a survival strategy for the working poor, but is detrimental to children, parents, and the day care facilities. Using a focus group method, we identify the best way to allocate the subsidy to benefit both the parents, children and the YWCA.
Fit For the Future? Future Development of the Emergency
In July 2000 the first Emergency Duty Team was established within the Eastern Health & Social Services Board in Northern Ireland, fundamentally changing the way in which out of hours social work services are provided. The other three Boards are now also examining how they might provide for their statutory responsibilities out of hours and are looking to the model of the Emergency Duty Team. The concept of the Emergency Duty Team is now almost 30 years old. With services becoming more fragmented and specialist, has the generic out of hours role been redefined too generally or does it still remain a credible model for dealing with all social work emergencies out of hours? This paper is a personal reflection on the establishment and current position of the Emergency Duty Team and seeks to argue that Emergency Duty Social Work is a distinct and specialist form of practice and that its staff have developed a level of expertise in crisis resolution across the spectrum of emergency social work intervention providing a competent service at a modest cost.
COLETTE GRAY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, BELFAST
The six papers included in this collection mark the publication of the 10th volume of Child Care in Practice. They also give testimony to the eclectic approach adopted by a young journal that seeks to reflect the views and experiences of child care professionals working in a multiplicity of disciplines in a global context. The success of this approach can be measured in the growing number of articles submitted for publication. Consequently the standard and quality of papers published continues to improve. Moreover, the scope of issues presented in this edition suggests that the journal is of interest to an increasing community of child care professionals who strive to effect change in policy and practice. For that reason, the papers typically adopt a "child problem-dominated approach" (Jenks, 2003, p. 396). This is hardly surprising given recent increases in the number of child care courses available at universities across the globe. Allied with calls by governments in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australasia and the USA for the development of early intervention programmes aimed at improving children’s educational and social outcomes, many of the issues addressed in recent editions highlight problems with the application of policy in practice.
The first paper in this issue reflects just such an approach. Lisa Bunting, a policy researcher with the NSPCC, draws on an extensive literature review and statistical evidence to explore the advantages and disadvantages of parenting programmes. Although the benefits of these programmes are well documented, Bunting attributes the zeal with which the advantages are reported to the fact that most of these programmes have been the subject of internal rather than external evaluations. In contrast, to the widely published advantages, the high attrition rates associated with these programmes are rarely highlighted. The paper provides an evaluation of an Australian approach termed the Triple P-Positive Parenting Programme. Interestingly, this multi-level approach can provide information and advice to the local community through a range of mediums including mail shots and leaflets, while also meeting the needs of individual parents. The paper concludes that this approach might serve to inform the development of future parenting programmes in Northern Ireland.
The next paper also addresses the need for support services for carers, in this instance for those working in residential child care. The stress experienced by those working with vulnerable, traumatised young people is brilliantly captured by Gibson, Leonard and Wilson. Working as a team they form the MOSAIC Consortium, a group who offer training, support and advice to residential workers. Drawing from their own experience, the authors report findings from a meeting between a residential team and a member of the consortium. Frost, Mills, and Stein (1999, p. 1) report a crisis of confidence in residential childcare with the public viewing children in these settings as "victims being sexually or physically abused"’ These views and the anger directed by children in care at carers tend to disempower the staff. The team highlights educating staff in systems theory, systems thinking and understanding the politics of care to affect a positive change in their attitudes. The case study included in this paper illustrates this theory in practice.
Building on the theme of empowerment, Veeran draws attention to the fact that, despite the ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), many street children in South Africa experience deprivation with regard to their basic human needs. While it might be comforting to assume that most children are loved and wanted, lack of parental guidance and support causes street children to be excluded from all levels of society. Their exclusion is compounded by the failure of those working with these children to encourage them to voice their needs and concerns. Vernoon argues that effective intervention programmes will involve children in all aspects of decision-making.
The uncomfortable consequences of giving voice to children’s views are noted in a paper on physical punishment by New Zealand lecturers Dobbs and Duncan. Few rival physical punishment in generating passionate debate. In contrast, there was no debate from the 10 children aged between five and seven years old interviewed. Whereas adults consider a smack to be a light, inconsequential form of punishment, children describe it as "a hard bang" and "a hard whack". They also claim that it "hurts" and makes them "sad". Interestingly, children thought it limited alternatives to conflict resolution — a point that might be worthy of consideration by parents who raise their hand in response to problem behaviours.
The next paper addresses an area that may be less familiar to child care professionals in the United Kingdom. In essence, explanations for day care hopping—leaving without paying—in Alabama are sought by Dreneta and colleagues, who highlight the plight of low-income mothers who find it difficult, if not impossible, to pay child care costs. The researchers were commissioned by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Central Alabama to develop a screening device that would identify certain telling characteristics of mothers who day hop. Focus groups were conducted with staff at the YWCA to explore their views on the reasons for day hopping. Although staff thought that some families were beyond help, they identified certain common features among those who would benefit from help. It was thought that a stipend should be made available for parents with economic difficulties, transportation problems and psychosocial problems.
In the concluding article, Barry, reflects on the establishment and current position of the Emergency Duty Team, established by the Eastern Health & Social Services Board in Northern Ireland in 2000. To enhance the quality of this service she recommends training in conflict resolution for social workers involved with Emergency Duty Teams. Barry also highlights a number of problems encountered by the successful implementation of the team. This out-of-hours service has proven so successful that it currently receives some 700 referrals each month. To ensure the team is sustainable, the team has revisited several existing policies such as Open all Hours, with a view to refining and developing their service.
Concluding this volume is a collection of papers that offer professionals an insight into a range of disciplines. In exploring issues from the child’s perspectives, several highly poignant areas were addressed. Similarly, the experiences of residential workers should provoke interest in the plight of a group who are rarely the focus of research interest. Moreover, the research findings and experiences reported here may serve to inform policy-making and decision-making.
Jenks, C. (2003). An established field, or a breakthrough still pending? Childhood. A Global Journal of Child Research, 10, 4.