Family Support Further Reading

We hope you find these suggestions for further reading helpful.  We have provided links where appropriate, but in many cases a subscription will be required to access a particular research article.  Where an article is available without charge on another website, we have included a link to that for your information.  In the case of subscription articles, we do not recommend any particular provider and suggest that you use the information provided below to help you identify the most appropriate research source for you.

Maluccio, A., Canali, C., Vecchiato, T., Lightburn, A., Aldgate, J. Rose, W. and Whittaker, J. (Eds.) (2010) Improving Outcomes for Children and Families: Finding and Using International Evidence.London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

This edited collection offers an international perspective on the challenges of designing and undertaking outcome-based evaluation of child and family services. It begins with quotes from UNICEF and the United Nations, acknowledging that special attention must be paid to those children who are likely to face particular problems and who will need support to overcome them. With contributions from leading international experts, it introduces the key ideas and issues currently being debated in the evaluation of these services; discusses relevant approaches to designing and using evaluation methods; and provides examples of evaluation from the real world of policy and practice. Issues covered include setting appropriate indicators for service effectiveness, cross-cultural evaluation of service interventions, service user involvement in evaluation, and evaluations of family and community-based services.

McDowall Clark, R.  (2013) Is there space for the child in partnership with families? TACTYC Reflections. Rory McDowall Clark.

The author aims to open discussion about the philosophy behind partnership practice to ensure that it is ethically legitimate and that it includes space for the child’s own perspective. Focusing on the way collaboration between school, nursery and home can aid a child’s transition from one system to another, she asks if partnership between home and nursery / school is always a process that works for the benefit of the child, asking if there space for the child within that process? The article explores some of the history and contradictions relating to this topic. Emphasising children’s agency rather than positioning them as research subjects, she ends by posing a number of questions for those working with children and families.

Statham, J. (2011) Grandparents Providing Child Care: Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre. Briefing Paper. Working paper no. 10.

Grandparents play a prominent role in providing childcare and supporting maternal employment, especially for low-income families. The DfE requested a brief review of research evidence and statistical data on grandparents providing childcare, and was conducted during 2011. Initial discussions clarified that the focus should be on the provision of care while parents work/study, and also contact (i.e. the time grandparents spend with grandchildren more generally, and any trends in this). The review also addresses contact between grandparents and grandchildren after parental divorce or separation. The research questions also address the impact:

  • of grandparent care on child and adult wellbeing;
  • of grandparent care on child attainment, cognitive development, and behaviour;
  • of how many grandparents have no or limited contact with their grandchildren as a result of parental separation, and
  • evidence on the impact of this on children and families.

Owen, A. and Anderson, B. (2015) Informal community support for parents of pre-school children: A comparative study investigating the subjective experience of parents attending community-based toddler groups in different socio-economic situations. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 1-13.

This research asserts that within the United Kingdom, the importance of the appropriate parenting of children in their early years has received significant political support. However, it has been found that positive outcomes for young children, in terms of their present experience and future life chances, are often significantly weakened by the impact of poverty. A study was undertaken to explore the reasons why parents living in poverty access informal social support networks, in the form of community-based toddler groups. It found that engagement with these networks has value for parents in terms of their mental well-being and their peer education, both of which support their ability to parent a young child appropriately. The main finding of this study was that the majority of parents, from both research groups, accessing toddler groups were doing so for the informal social support that they provided.

Field, F. (2010) The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults. The report of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances. London, HM Government: Cabinet Office.

This thorough report aims to encourage debate about the nature and extent of poverty in the UK. The review found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily based on their development in the first five years of life. It is family background, parental education, good parenting and the opportunities for learning and development in those crucial years that together matter more to children than money, in determining whether their potential is realised in adult life. The things that matter most are a healthy pregnancy; good maternal mental health; secure bonding with the child; love and responsiveness of parents  along  with  clear  boundaries, as  well as opportunities for a child’s cognitive, language and social and emotional development. Good services matter too: health services, Children’s Centres and high quality childcare.

Geens, N. and Vandenbroeck, M. (2013) Early childhood education and care as a space for social support in urban contexts of diversity, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(3), 407-419.

What social support in early childhood education settings can take place across several socio-economical and cultural borders? This study suggests that effective meeting places can support democratic relations. In this experiment, parents, children and professionals are actors in the construction processes of parenting and community building. In so doing, the pedagogical and the social, coincide. The findings show that confrontations occurred both in verbal and non-verbal ways and were often mediated by the children. The researchers argue for a broad perspective on early childhood education as a social service, integrating economic, educative and social functions, a space for encounters between a diversity of families.

DfE (2015) Research and analysis – Children’s Centres in England: Organisation and Services. 25th June 2015.

Three related research documents on Children’s Centres – just published!

The research found that almost half of staff are dealing with families who have complex needs, but are receiving less support from outside partner agencies than in the past. There were concerns that the loss of open access services meant that it would be harder to identify families with needs just below the radar of social services. Staff also felt that training was inadequate to take on such highly intensive work. Multi-agency working was felt to require improvement, with some partnerships suffering from tensions… The centres in the study were mostly located in very disadvantaged areas. Even the few found in less disadvantaged areas still drew a one third of their users from poor areas’ (Nursery World. 2nd July 2015).

Castro, M., Expósito-Casas E., López-Martín, E, Lizasoain, L., NavarroAsencio, E. and Luis Gaviria, J. (2015) Parental involvement on student academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review,  Volume 14, February 2015, 33-46.

The authors of this paper observe that parental involvement is both as ‘the active participation of parents in all aspects of their children’s social, emotional and academic development’, extending to parental involvement in their child’s education and their relationship with their child’s educational setting. Castro et al. conducted an analysis of 37 recent studies in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, identifying the strongest association of families with high academic expectations for their children, who also develop and maintain communication with them about school activities.

NCB. (2010) Principles for Engaging with Families. London: Published for the National Quality Improvement Network by NCB

Potter, C., Walker, G. and Keen, B. (2012) Engaging fathers from disadvantaged areas in children’s early educational transitions: A UK perspective. Journal of Early Childhood Research. 10(2) 209–225.

The need for services to engage fathers is currently advised rather than prescribed. The Fathers Transition Project has charted relatively new territory within the UK, in its successful attempts to engage fathers from disadvantaged areas during the crucial period of their children’s transition from early years to the reception class. The authors argue that this must change if children are to accrue the benefits that are known to flow from father involvement in their education and learning, especially during the early years.

Brock, A. and Rankin, C. (Eds.) Professionalism in the interdisciplinary early years team: supporting young children and their families.London: Continuum Publishing Corporation.

This publication celebrates the professionalism of the varied practitioners who work with young children. It covers the key issues faced by early years practitioners, and moves on to consider particular roles within the early years team, including the early years professional, early years teacher, health professional, social worker, speech and language therapist and librarian. This text will be invaluable to those studying early years at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and a useful resource for leaders in early years settings and established early years practitioners who are undertaking continuing professional development courses.

Desforges, C. with Abouchaar, A. (2003). The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievement and Adjustment: A Literature Review. London: DfES

Parental involvement takes many forms and the extent and form of this involvement is influenced by many factors. The author of this study emphasises that research on spontaneous levels of parental involvement in children’s education confirms the long held view that the impact is large. The most important finding of this study is that what parents do with their children at home is much more significant that any other factor open to parental involvement, influencing the child’s self-concept as a learning and through setting high expectations.

Moakes, K. (2012) Professionalism in the interdisciplinary early years team: supporting young children and their families, Educational Research and Evaluation: An International Journal on Theory and Practice, 18(8), 799-802.

This is a book review of a publication that explores the variety and complexity of the ever-changing early years team, with the authors attempting to create a professional unity around the centrality of the needs of the child and their family.


We are building a bank of resources to support your early years research project.  Links to suggested further reading in each of the key research hubs can be found below.  Or contact us and let us know how we can make this website more relevant to you and your practice.

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