The conceptualisation and delivery of family support in Europe



A review of academic literature

Even though children are active agents in their own right they remain a vulnerable group dependent on adults to protect, support, nourish and educate them. In certain circumstances and for a myriad of reasons, some families’ capacity to provide for and care for their children can be reduced or compromised, and as a result they require support and assistance in carrying out this fundamental function. Family Support is one way in which children’s well-being can be protected and promoted. However, the way in which this mode of support is conceptualised and operationalised can vary within and across jurisdictions. For instance, family support approaches can be framed by concerns about care or control, can take a child-based or parent-oriented perspective, and may be targeted or universal in terms in eligibility.
This report is part of a wider programme of work in the EuroFamNet COST Action which aims to provide an innovative conceptual framework relevant to the delivery of family support in Europe. In order to provide insight to this project, this document presents a review of recent academic literature which considers the ways in which formal family support is conceptualised, developed and delivered in the European context. This includes literature from member states of the European Union, and adjacent countries from the continent that have special relationships with the Union. Much of the literature in this review stems from the UK, but it also comes from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, France and Italy, as well as Cyprus and Croatia.
This literature review aims to:
1. Identify and examine similarities and differences in the meanings and applications of ‘family support’ as a key concept within and across European countries.
2. Consider similarities and differences in national approaches to family support and family support services for children, parents and families across European countries.
3. Present a review of how the literature in these areas has conceptualised, evaluated and theorised these similarities and differences.

Devaney, C., Christiansen, Ø., Holzer, J., MacDonald, M., Matias, M., Piessens, A. & Salamon, E. (2021). The conceptualisation and delivery of family support in Europe: A review of academic literature. EurofamNet.

The conceptualisation and delivery of family support in Europe- October 2021.