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Special Issue "Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 December 2021) | Viewed by 9094

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lucía Jiménez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación, Universidad de Sevilla, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Interests: family education;family support;preservation services;child protection;evidence-based programmes;programme evaluation;children quality of life;measures validation
Prof. John Canavan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Political Science & Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
Interests: family support; child protection and welfare; evaluation theory and methodology; social intervention; systems thinking
Dr. George Spiel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Pro mente Forschung, Austria
Interests: family support; impact evaluation
Dr. Nevenka Zegarac
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
aculty Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade, Beograd, Serbia
Interests: case management; child abuse and neglect; children on alternative care; family support; child trafficking; child’s participation and professional development of social service workforce

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Research has proven that family is the primary context for the development and wellbeing of the new generation, and parenting is a resource that must be supported. Governments are encouraged to support direct caregivers, and wider kin and friend support networks, in the exercise of their childrearing functions. Balancing this is the central position of children’s rights at the forefront of modern social policies. Reflecting both orientations, family support as a child welfare measure is a social priority for government bodies, as the available evidence supports its effectiveness in promoting child wellbeing and health, particularly in disadvantaged family contexts.

The academic challenge for family support as a frontier-knowledge domain is to integrate research and thinking from the multiple approaches of different disciplines, professional and academic, that constitute the field. There is need for a shared body of knowledge that can embed this diversity and be responsive to the realities and needs derived from current existing family support schemes and family realities in order to promote children’s health and wellbeing. Thus, despite advances in this field, family support services require more advanced evidence and culturally informed approaches that offer practitioners effective programs and practice toolkits which are relevant for specific family contexts. There is a strong need to inform public policy and standards of practice via the emerging body of family support knowledge.

This Special Issue aims to showcase the variety and relevance of recent advances in the field of family support as a child welfare measure to promote children’s health and wellbeing, with a focus on public policy and standards of practice. Potential topics include but are not limited to advances in:

  • Family dimensions related to children’s health and wellbeing, with a focus on implications for family support;
  • Evidence- and/or culturally informed family intervention initiatives aimed at promoting children health and wellbeing;
  • Family support conceptualization, with a focus on its implications for the public policy;
  • Validation of measures relevant in the field of family support as a child welfare action.

Dr. Lucía Jiménez
Prof. John Canavan
Dr. George Spiel
Dr. Nevenka Zegarac
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • family support
  • children’s health
  • family education
  • evidence-informed practice
  • child wellbeing

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Emotional Availability in Mother-Child and Father-Child Interactions as Predictors of Child’s Attachment Representations in Adoptive Families
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084720 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 415
Abstract
Emotional availability (EA) in parent-child interactions is associated with positive child outcomes, including attachment security. However, little is known about EA in adoptive families. This study investigated the associations between secure representations of attachment in adopted children and the adoptive parents’ EA. The [...] Read more.
Emotional availability (EA) in parent-child interactions is associated with positive child outcomes, including attachment security. However, little is known about EA in adoptive families. This study investigated the associations between secure representations of attachment in adopted children and the adoptive parents’ EA. The participants (n = 75) included 26 mothers, 23 fathers, and 26 children who were aged 3 to 9 years. Children completed the Attachment Story Completion Task. Adult-child dyadic relationships were assessed using the EA® System. The results showed that the children’s and parents’ EA, age when adopted, and time elapsed since adoption were associated with more secure children’s attachment representations. Implications for family support and public policy are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
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Article
Outcomes and Mechanisms of Change of the Strengthening Families Program in a Clinical Sample of Children and Their Families in Austria
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1074; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031074 - 19 Jan 2022
Viewed by 455
Abstract
Family context and parenting behavior have the greatest influence on children’s mental health and well-being, and interventions that take the whole family system into account are promising. This study aims to evaluate the outcomes, i.e., family strength, parenting behavior, and child behavior, of [...] Read more.
Family context and parenting behavior have the greatest influence on children’s mental health and well-being, and interventions that take the whole family system into account are promising. This study aims to evaluate the outcomes, i.e., family strength, parenting behavior, and child behavior, of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), developed by Kumpfer which was implemented in an outpatient clinic of a community-based non-governmental organization in Austria between 2012 and 2018. Furthermore, the program’s mechanism of change as formulated by the program authors (i.e., to what extent parenting behavior mediates the relationship between family strength and child behavior) was tested in this clinical sample. Instruments measuring family strength, parenting behavior, and child behavior were administered before, immediately after, and 6 months after participation in the SFP. To test the mechanisms of change, a half-longitudinal model was applied with two measurement points (before and after). A total of 62 families (50 boys, 24 girls, and 69 parents) participated in the culturally adapted SFP. Regarding the outcomes of the program, all variables yielded significant improvement in all variables. With respect to the mechanism of change, no significant association between the variables could be found. Implications for the implementation of the SFP in a clinical population and how further adaptation of the program could enhance the adherence of this target group are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
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Article
Family Policy and Child Well-Being: The Case of Montenegro in the European Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9118; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179118 - 29 Aug 2021
Viewed by 928
Abstract
Family policies and family support measures have been identified as having major implications for child well-being, particularly through their role in influencing parental and family resources, circumstances and behaviour. The official approach to family policies focuses on opportunities for families to balance their [...] Read more.
Family policies and family support measures have been identified as having major implications for child well-being, particularly through their role in influencing parental and family resources, circumstances and behaviour. The official approach to family policies focuses on opportunities for families to balance their work and family duties and care for their children. This paper analyses the type of policies available in Montenegro compared to the European Union. Potentially, Montenegro will become an EU member state, thus it is important to take a look at Montenegrin practice, as children should have equal life chances and protection of their well-being. Having a solid legal framework per se does not necessarily result in significant positive outcomes, and this paper analyses whether children in Montenegro have the same opportunities for development, in the context of family policies, as their counterparts in the rest of Europe. The focus of the paper will be on the criteria that define family rights and obligations, eligibility, availability and use of family policies in Montenegro. Based on the specific measures and datasets examined, the analysis considers the degree to which a period of family policy investment in Montenegro has been accompanied by improvements in child well-being and family resources, and undertakes comparisons in these regards with EU-wide family policy and child well-being trends. The paper uses a welfare state theoretical approach, with the focus on social investment and relevant data on children’s well-being obtained from the Eurostat, the OECD and the official national statistics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
Article
Work–Family Guilt in Spanish Parents: Analysis of the Measurement, Antecedents and Outcomes from a Gender Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 8229; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158229 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 994
Abstract
This research work had three objectives: (1) to analyze the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Work–Family Guilt Scale, (2) to examine its invariance according to gender, and (3) to study the relationship between work–family guilt (WFG) and the different proposed [...] Read more.
This research work had three objectives: (1) to analyze the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Work–Family Guilt Scale, (2) to examine its invariance according to gender, and (3) to study the relationship between work–family guilt (WFG) and the different proposed antecedent (e.g., hours spent working, social support, rumination, and personality) or consequential factors (e.g., life satisfaction), noting any gender differences. The incidental sample comprised 225 parents who were in paid work and had at least one child attending nursery school (49.1% women; age of total sample = 36.88 on average). Multiple-group and confirmatory factor analyses, correlations, multiple regression, and moderation analyses were carried out. The WFGS reflected the same factorial structure in men and women, with two main factors: work interfering with family guilt (WIFG) and family interfering with work guilt (FIWG). No gender differences were found. The discrepancy associated with perfectionism was the only variable that was found to be a predictor of FIWG. The major predictors of WIFG were brooding from rumination and the number of hours spent working. WIFG was also associated with lower life satisfaction in women. The implications of these results are discussed, stressing the need to promote work–family reconciliation policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
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Article
The Brief COPE: Measurement Invariance and Psychometric Properties among Community and At-Risk Portuguese Parents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2806; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062806 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1292
Abstract
Parenting generally brings about high internal and external demands, which can be perceived as stressful when they exceed families’ resources. When faced with such stressors, parents need to deploy several adaptive strategies to successfully overcome these challenges. One of such strategies is coping, [...] Read more.
Parenting generally brings about high internal and external demands, which can be perceived as stressful when they exceed families’ resources. When faced with such stressors, parents need to deploy several adaptive strategies to successfully overcome these challenges. One of such strategies is coping, an important cognitive and behavioural skill. In this study, we intended to examine the psychometric properties of Carver’s (1997) Brief COPE (Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced), extending its cross-cultural validity among a Portuguese sample of community and at-risk parents. The sample comprised community (n = 153) and at-risk (n = 116) parents who completed the brief COPE, the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scales and the Parenting Stress Index—Short Form. Confirmatory factor analysis, internal consistency, cross sample invariance, convergent and discriminant validity were analysed. Data from the confirmatory factor analysis revealed that the 14-factor model obtained the best fit. The results provided evidence that the Brief COPE is a psychometrically sound instrument that shows measurement invariance across samples and good reliability. Our findings demonstrated that the Portuguese version of brief COPE is a useful, time-efficient tool for both practitioners and researchers who need to assess coping strategies, a relevant construct in family context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
Article
Family Context Assessment in Middle Childhood: A Tool Supporting Social, Educational, and Public Health Interventions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031094 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1318
Abstract
Quality of the family context has an important role in the physical and mental health of children; that is why it is important to have reliable and updated tools. This study aims to design and validate a new tool, the Haezi Etxadi Family [...] Read more.
Quality of the family context has an important role in the physical and mental health of children; that is why it is important to have reliable and updated tools. This study aims to design and validate a new tool, the Haezi Etxadi Family Assessment Scale 7–11 (HEFAS 7–11), to assess family context quality in middle childhood. A sample of two cohorts of 772 Spanish families with children aged between 7 and 11 (M = 9.39 years; SD = 1.57; 51.2% girls), participated in the study. Results showed good psychometric properties for the instrument and the confirmatory factor analysis showed a five individual subscales structure: 1. Promotion of Cognitive and Linguistic Development (α = 0.79); 2. Promotion of Socio Emotional Development (α = 0.83); 3. Organization of Physical Environment and Social Context (α = 0.73); 4. Parental Stress & Conflict (α = 0.75); and 5. Parental Profile Fostering Child Development (α = 0.80). The association between HEFAS 7–11 and Trial Making Test was also analyzed to determine the concurrent validity of the instrument. The new scale shows its potential in the fields of research, social and educational, to know those variables that need to be promoted under the approach of positive parenting from a public health perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)

Review

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Review
The Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Family Support across Europe: A Narrative Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1488; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031488 - 28 Jan 2022
Viewed by 853
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to deliver parenting and mental health support services to families. This narrative review illustrates the diverse ways in which ICT is being used across Europe to provide family support to [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to deliver parenting and mental health support services to families. This narrative review illustrates the diverse ways in which ICT is being used across Europe to provide family support to different populations. We distinguish between the use of ICT in professional-led and peer-led support and provide implementation examples from across Europe. We discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of different ways of using ICT in family support and the main developments and challenges for the field more generally, guiding decision-making as to how to use ICT in family support, as well as critical reflections and future research on its merit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Systematic Review
Group Triple P Intervention Effects on Children and Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(4), 2113; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19042113 - 13 Feb 2022
Viewed by 733
Abstract
Supporting parents through the delivery of evidence-based parenting interventions (EBPI) is a way of promoting children’s rights, given the known benefits to child development and family wellbeing. Group Triple P (GTP) is an EBPI suitable for parents of children aged 2–12 years, who [...] Read more.
Supporting parents through the delivery of evidence-based parenting interventions (EBPI) is a way of promoting children’s rights, given the known benefits to child development and family wellbeing. Group Triple P (GTP) is an EBPI suitable for parents of children aged 2–12 years, who experience parenting difficulties, and/or child behavior problems. Even though GTP has been intensively studied, information lacks on the magnitude of its effects, considering the risk of bias within and across prior research. To address this, a systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO registration CRD42019085360) to evaluate the effects of GTP on child and parent outcomes at short- and longer-term was performed. Through a systematic search of a set of databases, 737 research papers were identified, and 11 trials were selected. The risk of bias within and across studies was evaluated. Significant positive effects of GTP were found immediately after the intervention for child behavior problems, dysfunctional parenting practices, parenting sense of competence, psychological adjustment, parental stress levels, conflict, and relationship quality. Six months after the intervention, positive effects were found only for child behavior problems. Data suggest that GTP might be an effective EBPI leading to positive family outcomes. Substantial risk of bias was found, highlighting the importance of improving the quality of research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
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Protocol
Protocol for the Implementation and Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Caregivers of Children with Mental Disorders in a Clinical Setting
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10777; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182010777 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 780
Abstract
Being a parent is complicated in typical circumstances, with a great psychological impact as well as feelings and experiences of great intensity. This impact is greater in families in vulnerable situations, such as those with children with mental health problems, receiving treatment in [...] Read more.
Being a parent is complicated in typical circumstances, with a great psychological impact as well as feelings and experiences of great intensity. This impact is greater in families in vulnerable situations, such as those with children with mental health problems, receiving treatment in a clinical setting. Due to these challenges, parenting in these circumstances is often accompanied by experiences of stress. An approach that has shown evidence of effectiveness in mitigating the negative impact of stress is mindfulness-based interventions, including the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention program. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention program is designed as a psychoeducational, instructional, multimodal, and structured program whose main objective is to provide strategies for the management, coping, and awareness of stress in order to reduce it. In this paper, a protocol for the implementation and evaluation of the original Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention program with the added positive parenting component is presented, in order to systematize the incorporation of a parenting component in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention program, analyze its effectiveness for parents whose children have mental health problems (in terms of stress, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, general health, and parental role), explore the mechanisms of change operating in this intervention as perceived by the participants, and examine the application of acquired strategies to daily life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Support and Children’s Health and Wellbeing)
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