Special Issue "Understanding and Supporting 'Families with Complex Needs'"

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A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 December 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Nathan Hughes

1 School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
2 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Flemington Road, Parkville, Melbourne, 3010, Australia
3 School of Government, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: family-minded policy and practice; youth crime and youth justice policy; neurodisability
Guest Editor
Dr. Carolina Munoz-Guzman

School of Social Work, Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Metro San Joaquín, Chile
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +56-2-23544669
Interests: social policies and programs for families and children; child labour; social work education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Family forms are many and varied, reflecting a myriad of understandings and influencing factors. In any given cultural context, normative notions of family structure, such as the ‘nuclear family’, may not therefore reflect the reality of family life, experiences and functions, as described and articulated by families themselves; particularly those from minority or marginalized communities. Despite this complexity and perpetual change, the importance of family for the experience of both interdependence and individual support and well-being remains constant. This is particularly the case for ‘families with complex needs’, who experience both a ‘breadth’ of ‘interrelated or interconnected’ needs and a ‘depth’ of ‘profound, severe, serious or intense needs’ (Rankin and Regan, 2004), and are therefore most reliant on services and support. This might include families affected by mental health needs, disability, caring responsibilities, migration and asylum seeking, criminal behavior, drug and alcohol misuse, and so on.

The increasing complexity of family life, alongside the continued important and complex role played by family in supporting members with particular needs, poses a range of challenges for services seeking to engage with families, particularly those with complex needs. For family-focused services to deliver effectively, the complexity of family roles, functions, and compositions therefore need to be examined and understood. Failure to recognize the structure, role and function of various family relationships may lead to ineffective service provision or a resistance to engage in support by the family. Nonetheless, there is significant evidence that existing policy and service provision finds ‘thinking family’ both challenging and controversial, with clear implications for professional knowledge and frameworks, training, practices, and the design and delivery of interventions. In particular it may affect relationships with families as ‘service users’, and ultimately the arrival at shared objectives.

This Special Issue will therefore consider how 'families with complex needs' form and experience contemporary life, and how such understandings might inform policy and practice responses.  Papers will compare the theorization of families in the context of service provision and policy, examining how the notion of 'needs' is constructed and considered within various nation states, and which families or family forms are subsequently constructed as a 'public concern'.

Previous research has identified a typology of family-focused services that includes those that work with the family to support the service user, those that address the needs of family members so as to enable them to support a primary service user within the family, and an emerging category of ‘whole family approaches’ that uniquely emphasize shared needs, strengths or risk factors that could not be dealt with through a focus on family members as individuals (Hughes, 2010). Whilst often still small-scale and ‘innovative’, there is emerging evidence that such approaches may be effective in engaging families with complex needs (Morris et al., 2008).

This Special Issue will therefore also explore and compare the models and approaches to family-based service provision evident in different nation states; in particular, emerging ‘whole family approaches’ will be considered and, where possible, compared to other forms of provision. The tensions and contradictions in implementing such approaches in relation to particular complex needs will be considered.

To address this set of issues, the European Union funded an ‘international research staff exchange scheme’ enabling collaboration between research groups across Europe and Latin America. Research exchanges supported case studies and comparative research addressing one or more of the above themes. This Special Issue will therefore include a number of papers based on research undertaken as part of this project and network.

Dr. Nathan Hughes
Dr. Carolina Munoz-Guzman
Guest Editors

References:

Clarke, H., and Hughes, N. “Introduction: Family Minded Policy and Whole Family Practice – Developing a Critical Research Framework.” Social Policy and Society 9, no. 4 (2010): 545–56.
Gillies, V. Family and Intimate Relationships: A Review of the Sociological Research. Families & Social Capital ESRC Research Group. London: South Bank University, 2003.
Hughes, N. “Models and approaches to family-focused policy and practice.” Social Policy and Society 9, no. 4 (2010): 527–32.
Jelin, E. Las familias Latinoamericanas en el marco de las transformaciones globales: Hacia una nueva agenda de políticas públicas. CEPAL, Santiago Chile, 2005.
Mauras, M. La familia y las políticas públicas: Hacia una “sociedad de redes”. CEPAL, Santiago Chile, 2005.
Morris, K. “Troubled families: vulnerable families’ experiences of multiple service use.” Child and Family Social Work 18, no. 2 (2013): 198–206.
Morris, K., Hughes, N., Clarke, H et al. Think Family: A Literature Review of Whole Family Approaches. London: Cabinet Office, 2008. ISBN: 0711504814.
Rankin, J., and Regan, S. Meeting Complex Needs: The Future of Social Care. London: Turning Point, 2004.
Tamaso Mioto, R., Silva Campos, M., and Sasso de Lima; T. Quem cobre as insuficiências das políticas públicas? Contribuição ao debate sobre o papel da família na provisão de bem-estar social. En El libro: Prácticas pedagógicas y modalidades de supervisión en el área de familia, 2008.
Williams, F. Rethinking Families. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2004.

Submission

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Keywords

  • families with complex needs
  • whole family approaches
  • comparative social policy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Understanding and Supporting “Families with Complex Needs”: An Editorial
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(4), 1335-1339; doi:10.3390/socsci4041335
Received: 30 November 2015 / Accepted: 9 December 2015 / Published: 15 December 2015
PDF Full-text (622 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract Family forms are many and varied, reflecting a myriad of understandings and influencing factors. [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Objective Structures and Symbolic Violence in the Immigrant Family and School Relationships: Study of Two Cases in Chile
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(4), 1243-1268; doi:10.3390/socsci4041243
Received: 28 October 2015 / Revised: 20 November 2015 / Accepted: 26 November 2015 / Published: 4 December 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (255 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The historical trend of migration processes in Chile faces a challenge given the incremental growth of immigration during recent years. This study focuses on the relationship between family and school, distinguishing within it the particular relationship between immigrant families and school agents. The
[...] Read more.
The historical trend of migration processes in Chile faces a challenge given the incremental growth of immigration during recent years. This study focuses on the relationship between family and school, distinguishing within it the particular relationship between immigrant families and school agents. The qualitative approach applied here enabled a focus on the effect of the cultural diversity that immigration produces, including the configuration of conflicts between immigrant families and the school institution. The main issues discussed in this article concern the approach and the nature of interaction between schools and immigrant families. This approach is articulated with the observed emergence of symbolic violence. The characterization of the conflict of expectations among immigrant families and schools is also described, suggesting the need to rethink the practices associated with an inclusive education that allows the integration of immigrant families. Full article
Open AccessCommunication Applying the Behavioural Family Therapy Model in Complex Family Situations
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(2), 459-468; doi:10.3390/socsci4020459
Received: 27 November 2014 / Revised: 14 May 2015 / Accepted: 16 June 2015 / Published: 23 June 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (177 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Behavioural Family Therapy (BFT) is a skills based intervention that aims to support families where a member is experiencing a mental health problem. The Meriden Family Programme has extensive experience in supporting families who have complex needs. The programme delivers training in the
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Behavioural Family Therapy (BFT) is a skills based intervention that aims to support families where a member is experiencing a mental health problem. The Meriden Family Programme has extensive experience in supporting families who have complex needs. The programme delivers training in the approach and works with families with the aim of providing information, education and reducing stress within the family environment. Training has recently taken place within various mental health services to equip staff with the skills to work collaboratively with families and to understand and support their needs. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Need for Participative Interventions in Child Protection: Perspectives from Nuevo León State
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(2), 393-420; doi:10.3390/socsci4020393
Received: 5 December 2014 / Revised: 10 May 2015 / Accepted: 18 May 2015 / Published: 22 May 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (268 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article examines characteristics and social work practices within the Mexican child protection system by combining observations of practice with the voices and the views expressed by managers, social workers, families, children and young people. The results of the study confirm the need
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This article examines characteristics and social work practices within the Mexican child protection system by combining observations of practice with the voices and the views expressed by managers, social workers, families, children and young people. The results of the study confirm the need for and desire to adopt a participatory approach, in preference to the individualistic ideas that currently dominates practice. The traditional Mexican culture, the implicit and explicit representation of family and the social problems connected to drug trade conflicts appear to have contributed to a child protection system with a “child-centered perspective”, characterized by asymmetric power relationships, lacking the empowerment and engagement of service users. These practices seem to be counter to the legislative framework and appear ineffective. Reflections regarding how family needs are identified, understood and addressed reveal a commitment to find new ways of working with families among service users and providers. However, the biggest challenge in the Mexican context is to balance the protection of the child with support to their parents; without ensuring the former, the latter will remain a partial and counter-productive work practice. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Como Arrancar una Planta”: Women’s Reflections about Influences of Im/Migration on Their Everyday Lives and Health in Mexico
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(2), 294-312; doi:10.3390/socsci4020294
Received: 14 December 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2015 / Accepted: 9 April 2015 / Published: 21 April 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (310 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this study is to analyze women’s reflections about how experiences of im/migration from rural to urban settings in Monterrey, Mexico, influence their everyday life experience and health and that of their families. The participants were eight women from heterogeneous indigenous
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The aim of this study is to analyze women’s reflections about how experiences of im/migration from rural to urban settings in Monterrey, Mexico, influence their everyday life experience and health and that of their families. The participants were eight women from heterogeneous indigenous backgrounds, one woman with a mestizo background, two health professionals, three persons from organizations supporting indigenous groups, and two researchers. I collected data from personal observations, documents, and interviews that I then analyzed with a critical ethnography methodology developed by Carspecken. The women emphasized that food habits were the first to be adapted to circumstances in an urban everyday life constrained by working conditions. Together with their experiences of discrimination and violence, urban living determines the challenges and the priorities of daily life. Urban life affects how they perceive and treat their own and their family’s health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, their sense of belonging and home remains in their communities of origin, and they strive to reach a balance in their lives and preserve a connection to their roots, motherhood, and traditional knowledge. However, the women handle their im/migration experiences in diverse ways depending on their own conditions and the structural forces limiting or allowing them to act in decisive life situations. Im/migration is not just a matter of choice; it is about survival and is influenced by social determinants and “structural vulnerability” that influences and/or limit human agency. These, together with an unsustainable economic situation, make migration the only option, a forced decision within households. Structural forces such as social injustice in welfare policies restrict human rights and rights for health. Social determinants of health can constrain decision making and frame choices concerning health and childbearing in everyday life. Full article
Open AccessArticle Understanding the Effects of Crime on Women: Fear and Well-Being in the Context of Diverse Relationships
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(2), 276-293; doi:10.3390/socsci4020276
Received: 24 November 2014 / Revised: 30 March 2015 / Accepted: 30 March 2015 / Published: 8 April 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (221 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The risk-fear paradox, whereby people who experience the least criminal victimisation report the greatest fear of crime, has been established in the extant literature. That this paradox is gendered, notably that women report greater fear yet are less likely to experience crime, has
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The risk-fear paradox, whereby people who experience the least criminal victimisation report the greatest fear of crime, has been established in the extant literature. That this paradox is gendered, notably that women report greater fear yet are less likely to experience crime, has also been consistently identified. However, there remains a largely unanswered call to explore further the distinctive experiences of women and men. There are likely to be substantial within-group differences as well as between-group differences in experiences of crime and reported fear of crime. For instance, women may experience fear differently by relationship type. Specifically, women in non-traditional families, notably same-sex couples and single, divorced and widowed women may be more fearful. Therefore, for women, the risk-fear paradox may not function equivalently across relationship types. What is more, the impact of experiencing crime may have broader effects on women’s well-being, with those in families with complex needs shouldering a greater burden. We apply 2012 European Social Survey data to investigate reports of experiencing crime, feeling unsafe and anxious and sleeping restlessly for a sample of European women (n = 28,768). Our results demonstrate that single, separated and divorced women are more likely to experience crime than married women. Divorced and widowed women, as well as those who experience crime, are more likely to report feeling unsafe. Single women, compared to married women, who experience crime are more likely to feel anxious and sleep restlessly. Our results indicate that crime has differential effects on women by relationship type particularly regarding well-being. These findings offer important nuance to the experiences of women. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Providing a Roof That Allows One to Dream of a Better Life”: A Case Study of Working with Families in Extreme Poverty
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(2), 260-275; doi:10.3390/socsci4020260
Received: 10 December 2014 / Revised: 19 March 2015 / Accepted: 23 March 2015 / Published: 1 April 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents a case study of a youth organisation working with families in extreme poverty and lack of adequate housing in Chile and Mexico. It initially describes the considerable structural changes that relate to the emergence of the organisation, and then discusses
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This paper presents a case study of a youth organisation working with families in extreme poverty and lack of adequate housing in Chile and Mexico. It initially describes the considerable structural changes that relate to the emergence of the organisation, and then discusses how across context case study research that draws from the interpretivist interactionist tradition was employed. In the main body it presents interventions that aim to provide families with temporary accommodation, social support, education, micro-credit opportunities, and legal support. The paper aims to contribute to a discussion concerning wider insights to be gained from context-specific approaches in working with families. The article highlights the need for policy and practice that approaches families as complex, dynamic and context specific entities that are re-configured through their networks and interpersonal interactions, and are subject to particular plays of power relations. Furthermore, it argues for practice that fosters family agency that is based on recognition of strengths, emotional and cognitive aspects of decision making as well as nurturing of hope. Full article
Open AccessArticle Different Welfare System—Same Values? How Social Work Educators in Norway, Chile and Argentina Comprehend Core Social Work and Social Policy Issues
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 239-259; doi:10.3390/socsci4010239
Received: 10 December 2014 / Revised: 10 March 2015 / Accepted: 11 March 2015 / Published: 23 March 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (247 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During 2013 and 2014, five focus-group interviews were conducted in Norway, Chile and Argentina in order to understand better how professors at social work programs understand professional issues and controversial social policy issues in their countries. In the focus groups, the participants were
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During 2013 and 2014, five focus-group interviews were conducted in Norway, Chile and Argentina in order to understand better how professors at social work programs understand professional issues and controversial social policy issues in their countries. In the focus groups, the participants were asked to reflect upon a vignette which was a fictitious discussion about professional issues and dilemmas in social work practices. Three themes were deployed in the vignette. The first related to different attitudes with respect to how social problems in society should be approached and treated (with a special focus on the relationship between the public, private and civil sectors in solving welfare problems). The second was about social work dilemmas in the contested space between universal equality values and local freedom values/discretion embedded in local self-determination. The third focused on welfare states’ principles distinguishing welfare benefits and services and how public welfare policies should be designed. The three countries are very different with respect to variables affecting welfare policies and social work practices. The most profound difference is likely that Chile (and to a lesser degree Argentina) since the dictatorship is highly influenced by neo-liberal policies advocating small public involvement in social policy, whereas Norway is a typical social-democratic welfare state. This fact, however, does not affect the reflections and apprehensions of the issues in a substantial way. The professional attitudes of the professors are surprisingly equal in spite of their different backgrounds. Full article
Open AccessArticle Child Welfare in Chile: Learning from International Experiences to Improve Family Interventions
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 219-238; doi:10.3390/socsci4010219
Received: 13 December 2014 / Revised: 10 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 February 2015 / Published: 13 March 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (225 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Poor outcomes and several complaints to the judicial system against residential services for children have triggered a deep review of the Chilean child welfare services, particularly in relation to family reunification. This paper offers strategic guidelines to improve alternative care for children younger
[...] Read more.
Poor outcomes and several complaints to the judicial system against residential services for children have triggered a deep review of the Chilean child welfare services, particularly in relation to family reunification. This paper offers strategic guidelines to improve alternative care for children younger than six years of age, who are under protective measures. To define such guidelines, a case study was developed based on current models of residential services and foster home programs, which included local (Chile) and international evidence; also this research includes original empirical data collected through focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders of these programs in Chile and in two countries with advanced social services for children (Sweden and Italy). Findings refer to a structural need for reforming social services for Chilean children. Such reform should involve appropriate legislation to guarantee the rights of children and families; a substantial budgetary review leading to an increase in spending; and boosting professional specialization; and raising the capacity for offering integrated services. Full article
Open AccessArticle Social Policies in Contemporary Latin America: Families and Poverty in the Social Protection Systems
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 134-147; doi:10.3390/socsci4010134
Received: 11 December 2014 / Accepted: 29 January 2015 / Published: 9 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article examines the impact of social policies on the living conditions of poor families—particularly women—in Latin America from the late 1980s to the present. It identifies three distinct trends of familialism in the region’s social protection systems. The first social policy trend
[...] Read more.
This article examines the impact of social policies on the living conditions of poor families—particularly women—in Latin America from the late 1980s to the present. It identifies three distinct trends of familialism in the region’s social protection systems. The first social policy trend is characterized by poverty alleviation policies addressing the family in an “elliptical” way, taking for granted the idea of a nuclear family. The distinguishing trait of the second trend is the appearance of social programs aimed at families and stressing the role of women as chief caregivers and administrators. And finally, the third policy trend is defined by an expansion of more universal social programs targeting children and the elderly. Despite the recent emergence of programs with gender specific goals, social policies continue to put a great burden on female workers. For example, many subsidies to poor families deliver money directly to women, improving their intra-family bargaining power, but this translates also into an increase of responsibilities and the ensuing overload of work. Consequently, social policies in Latin America need to aim at encouraging a more egalitarian distribution of housework and care work within the family, especially given how well-established androcentrism is in the region. Full article
Open AccessArticle Bringing the Family Back in: On Role Assignment and Clientification in the Swedish Social Services
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 117-133; doi:10.3390/socsci4010117
Received: 28 November 2014 / Revised: 22 January 2015 / Accepted: 30 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Sweden, municipal social services provide help and support for vulnerable people with a variety of needs. Although the family has long been understood to be a focus of social work interventions, it is unclear how it is brought into the casework process
[...] Read more.
In Sweden, municipal social services provide help and support for vulnerable people with a variety of needs. Although the family has long been understood to be a focus of social work interventions, it is unclear how it is brought into the casework process in the highly individualised and specialised municipal social services. Therefore, in this study we investigated processes of client-making and role assignment in five service sectors: social assistance, child welfare, substance abuse, disability, and elderly care. We carried out focus group interviews with social workers in each of these sectors in a mid-sized community in central Sweden. Findings showed that clienthood and the family are interpreted in different ways. The family is brought into or kept out of service provisions in ways that are connected to social workers’ construction of the family either as expert, client or non-client. However, the role of the family may also change during the casework process. Findings are examined in relation to theories of the welfare state and implications for family-focused practice are discussed. Full article

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