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Survey on the role of parents and the support from the Governments in the EU commissioned to the ChildONEurope Secretariat by the Portuguese Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity in the context of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Report Structure I. International instruments - United Nations - European Union - Council of Europe II. CRC Committee concluding observations III. Comparative analysis of EU States policies and programmes on parenting support Annexes: Bibliography and web-sites International instruments: United Nations (I) CRC – key elements Principles for children’s rights • No-discrimination, survival and development, best interest, child hearing Parents • provide appropriate guidance and direction (in a non- violent manner) • provide materially for the child • enable the child to be heard States • the guarantor • the enabler • the promoter International instruments: United Nations (II) CRC – key elements • Emphasize the way of parenting: nurturing, provide structure, provide recognition, be empowered • Shifts emphasis from parental authority to parental responsibility • Role of States Parties: - Develop a policy on parenting - Support parents in rearing their children - Policy includes four functions: a. creating the conditions for positive parenting b. removing barriers c. promoting positive parenting d. providing equal access to resources International instruments: European Union (I) - no formal competence to act in the area of family affairs except with regard to migrant workers and their family members - the issues of family well-being is present in a transversal manners in others EU policy areas, such as: • social ex/inclusion • free movement • working conditions • employability • social cohesion • pensions • gender equality • migration. - the main concern in all these actions is the balance between work and family life, without mentioning other forms of support dedicated in particular to the socio-educational dimension International instruments: European Union (II) Communication from the European Commission promoting solidarity between the generations (May 2007) - Family policies remain the exclusive responsibility of the Member States - the Lisbon Strategy is considered as a framework for the modernisation of family policies through the promotion: a. of equal working opportunities for women b. of a better reconciliation of work, private and family life with the main objective to contribute to female labour force participation. International instruments: Council of Europe (I) COE Recommendation (2006)19 on positive parenting adopted by the Committee of Ministers (13/12/2006) Defines: - “parenting”, as “all the roles falling to parents in order to care for and bring up children” - it is evident a focused on the relationship between parents and their children - “positive parenting” considered as the parental behaviour ensuring the fulfilment of the best interests of the child “that is nurturing, empowering, non-violent and provides recognition and guidance which involves setting of boundaries to enable the full development of the child”. Considers: - the “creation of the right conditions” as the: ensuring of access to appropriate material, psychological, social and cultural resources and undertaking steps to remove barriers to positive parenting International instruments: Council of Europe (II) COE Recommendation (2006)19 on positive parenting adopted by the Committee of Ministers (13/12/2006) The national programmes and policies suggested need to be adopted with the intention to achieve three main objectives: • facilitate the access to appropriated and variegated material, psychological, social and cultural resources for all of those rearing children; • remove all the existing obstacles to the positive parenting; • promote positive parenting through actions of awareness raising. II. Comparative analysis The survey focuses in particular on the socio-pedagogical support given to parents through parental education programmes and counselling. • The nature of parenting has deeply changed it requires therefore an appropriate attention and response by the States. • In this framework, the specific aim of the survey is to identify policies, programmes and interventions on parenting support currently carried out by the EU Member States at national level, to compare them as well to share some of the most significant and innovative experiences in this field. II. Comparative analysis Information from: - ChildONEurope partners - Council of Europe Conference of European ministers responsible for family affairs, XXVIIIth session, 16 – 17 may 2006, Lisbon, Portugal "Changes in parenting: children today, parents tomorrow" - Last EU countries report to the CRC Committee the reference made in the text to specific projects carried out in the different EU countries does not claim to be exhaustive, but rather aims at presenting different kinds of experiences as a basis for reflection and knowledge-sharing Legislative and organisational framework (I) • few States have enacted specific legislation on the issue of parenting programmes, references can be found in more general legislations (e.g. family welfare, children's rights and protection) • three different levels of intervention as regards the bodies involved: - bodies responsible for planning (central authorities and local governments) - bodies that finance the activities (central authorities and local governments) - bodies that are entrusted with the task of realizing the different parenting programmes. (local agencies, local services and private organizations) Legislative and organisational framework (I) • decentralization of the provision of parenting services and programmes • good public and private integration E.g. Specific bodies - National Advisory Group to strengthen parenting education in schools, the National Family and Parenting Institute, National Academy for Parenting Practitioners (UK) - Birth and Children Office – Belgium (French Community) - Networks for listening, support and counselling of parents (REAAP), France - National observatory on family (Italy) The modalities of providing parenting support programmes (I) • Introduction of a family support dimension in the provision of health services in particular those related with family planning, pregnancy and the rearing of new- born children • Courses about birth preparation, increasing tendency to involve also fathers in these initiatives • Home visits after the birth of a child are also becoming more common The modalities of providing parenting support programmes (II) parental education and counselling can be provided through general courses, workshops or conferences addressed to all interested parents or through individual advice to parents upon request - telephone help lines are increasingly used (e.g. Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, UK) or also of website forums. - pre-marital counselling for young couples is offered in many countries by church related services or associations. - child-care services or school related services aimed primarily at children but aiming to involve parents as well. The modalities of providing parenting support programmes (III) • parents associations often provide networks that link families, community networks and parents self helping groups • family mediation and mediation in school • awareness raising campaigns also through TV and radio programmes as well as brochures, booklets, publications and websites on parenting education • parenting support initiatives for families at risk or with specific difficulties Some examples of parenting support programmes Pilot project for parents' education at workplace (Austria) Triple P – Positive Parenting Programme (Germany, Netherlands etc) Springboard Initiative (Ireland) Video Home Training (Netherlands) Centres for Family Support and Parental Guidance (Portugal) Community Parent Education Program (COPE) and KOMET (Sweden) Parental counselling and parental “schools” (e.g. Cyprus, Greece, Estonia, Romania, Spain) The characteristics of parenting support programmes • age of children: the majority of the initiatives taken by the different countries is addressed to families with young children, mostly from 0-6 years. However there are also some examples of specific initiatives for parents of adolescents and of children who start the school • modalities of access: free in the majority of cases as they are supported by public funds, some require a low participation fee. Private institutions that are not funded by government ask for a higher participation fee. Aims and contents of parenting services and programmes Empowerment of parents Accent on prevention (e.g. Netherlands electronic files for each child; UK – “Respect Action Plan”) Promotion of alternative methods to corporal punishment (many awareness raising campaigns and studies on the effects of prohibition of corporal punishment e.g. Sweden) Critical points limited availability in terms of geographical distribution of services impossibility to reach all interested families also due to budget limitations mainly for families at risk and not as a general instrument to support all parents difficult inclusion in these programmes of migrant families difficulties in networking among the different bodies involved Training and research Most countries show a strong interest in investing in training and research - UK - National Academy for Parenting Practitioners - Austria - Federal Ministry for Family Affairs has elaborated a training scheme for enhancing professionalism - Spain study entitled “Strategies to prevent and deal with conflicts in the family relations (parents-children)”; Observatory on Family-School-Social Agents Partnerships - Portugal - cooperation protocol among different public institutions and universities - Sweden - the Government has commissioned a study to the Swedish National Institute for Public Health on methods and programmes for parental support and education Guidelines for Work with Parents Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2006)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on policy to support positive parenting Parenting UK - “The Principles and Values of the Work with Parents sector” French Networks for listening, support and counselling of parents (REAPP) Guidelines for Work with Parents - common points Parenting education and support must be rights-based and should reflect the rights of the child set out in the CRC parents, whether they are biological or adoptive, must be considered by the professional as partners in the area of child protection Support parenting programmes must be considered as a way of empowering parents‘ competences/skills and never as a way to replace them and should be conducted in a non-judgemental and not discriminatory way Anyone who works with parents should have specific training for that purpose Co-ordination among the services working to support a family should constantly be sought Conclusions Great variety among parenting support programmes across the EU Member States General acknowledgement that the setting up or consolidation of parenting policies and programmes is needed Most common forms of parenting support are: family support dimension in the provision of health services and parental education and counselling increasing attention to training and research also in order to identify replicable best practices Council of Europe: “the process of ascertaining the needs of parents has just started and requires more political attention and priority” The wish is that this survey may be helpful to provide more information on this subject, both by making a review of the most important international instruments on this issue and by identifying policies, programmes and interventions carried out by the EU Member States at national level as well as by sharing some of the most significant and innovative experiences in this field.
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