How will the Child and Family Agency support parents?
The Parenting Support Strategy is about supporting parents within their communities to be the best parents they can be. The Parenting Support Strategy is part of an overall mission to … to improve outcomes for children and young people in Ireland (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2012)
It is recognised that supporting parents is a very important element of the work to improve outcomes for children and young people. It is also recognised that working in partnership is an important aspect of this work. The Child and Family Agency will work in partnership will all stakeholders, particularly parents, in the delivery and evaluation of parent support services within the community.
The purpose of the strategy is to ensure that there are appropriate supports and services available to parents within their community and that these services are accessible and friendly. Supports will be available to parents over the lifecourse, at all stages of their children‘s development, from birth to the teenage years and beyond when needed. It is hoped in this way to encourage a partnership approach to improving outcomes for children and families.
What do we mean by ‘Parent’?
The term ‘parent’ is used as shorthand to include mothers, fathers, grandparents, stepmothers, stepfathers, carers and other adults with responsibility for caring for a child or young person including, for example, those with responsibilities for children in residential care.
Children do better when they have a close and positive relationship with their parents and the Child and Family Agency considers that positive parenting has the following characteristics:
- Is strong but caring (authoritative) and is not bossy (authoritarian);
- Is supportive, warm and responsive;
- Is understanding of children and their daily lives;
- Expects children to follow age appropriate rules, gives explanations and is not controlling;
- Involves children in decision making and encourages two-way communication and discussion;
- Is non-violent;
- Promotes dignity, recognising children as individuals in their own right;
- Assumes full responsibility for the quality of the relationship with the child.
The Child and Family Agency understands that people come to parenthood from different starting points, with different capacities and with different beliefs and values as well as in a range of family forms. While there will be differences, therefore, in styles of parenting, the core parenting tasks of protecting, nurturing, guiding, and directing are common to all cultures.
Children and Families in Ireland Today
There are 1,179,210 families in Ireland The number of families in Ireland increased by 12% from 2006 to 2011. Of these families, 834,266 have one or more children. The nature of these families is very varied with over 550,000 having a married couple as parents, over 60,000 families are parented by a cohabiting couple, 186,000 families have a mother doing the majority of parenting alone and nearly 30,000 have a lone father as the main carer.