The UNCRC and Family Support: A Case Study of the Early Intervention Support Service

Karen Winter*, Paul Connolly, Sharon Millen, Daryl Sweet

*Corresponding author for this work

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In social work with children and families, the use of the articles of the UNCRC to inform our understanding of parents and parenting is often overshadowed by the necessary focus on the UNCRC articles as they pertain to the rights of children. Yet, the UNCRC is crucial to our understanding of parenthood because it both defines the role and responsibilities of parents and our obligations towards them as part of the broader endeavour to respect and ensure the realisation of the rights of children. One such obligation towards parents is the provision of appropriate parenting support services, which in keeping with the UNCRC principle of respect, are best designed with parents to ensure their relevance and suitability. However, because the social work profession has an ambiguous attitude towards parents; often viewing them as threats and risks to their children rather than as socially situated and resilient offering care in challenging situations characterised by structural disadvantage; support services are often designed for parents and directed towards parents, rather than designed with them. This lack of parental involvement in support service design raises queries as to how appropriate and relevant the support services are. Focusing on the implementation of a support service in Northern Ireland, and findings from 55 participant interviews, this paper applies the principles of the UNCRC to illustrate that by positioning parents as resourceful, by engaging them in the set up and evaluation of the service, local government and associated partners were able to meet their UNCRC obligations to provide parents with appropriate assistance. Informed by this analysis, the paper then discusses the UNCRC further, arguing that its implementation principles should underpin the design and delivery of all services for parents. Implications for social work policy and practice are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalChild Care in Practice
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2022


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