Early intervention is both an effective and cost-effective way of supporting families and their children. Consequently, during times of economic crisis local and national authorities should continue (to commission) the delivery of universal approaches of parenting support. This was concluded during Eurochild’s round table on ‘the role of local authorities in parenting support’. The meeting was hosted by the Dutch municipality of Eindhoven and the Netherlands Youth Institute on May 19 and 20.
Delegations from The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Ireland and observers from Flanders, Italy and Poland attended this round table. On Thursday morning, all five delegations gave a presentation on an inspiring practice of supporting parents and families in their own countries. This includes the Family Support Hub in Northern Ireland, the Family Centres in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), the New Futures Model from Ireland and support for (future) parents in Sweden. The presentations were followed by workshops about several topics, including the role of local authorities and NGOs in parenting support and the implementation and effects of such support.
On the second day, all delegates participated in field visits to two different centres in Eindhoven where parents can go for advice and help regarding their child. In their neighbourhood, they can for example go to a so-called SPIL centre. The name Spil Centre is derived from Spelen (play), Integreren (integration) and Leren (learning).
The Spil Centre is built around primary education, playgroups and childcare. Other services may be added, such as parenting support, child welfare, youth healthcare and social work. In case parents do not know where to go for help, they can turn to the so-called municipal Youth and Family Centre (CJG). From its central location, the CJG also offers training to parents and professionals. It also offers more targeted support to families and coordinates the provision of parenting support in the city’s neighbourhoods.
During the field visits and all discussions, it became apparent that the attending countries are all dealing with the same issues and are facing similar challenges, such as integrated working and the need for early intervention. In addition, positive parenting and normalising the need for parenting support were highlighted.
Both Eurochild and the Netherlands Youth Institute will use the results from this round table in their future activities: