Child and Family Social Work 2003, 8, pp 341-350
2003 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Blackwell Science, Ltd
CFSChild and Family Social Work
1365-2206Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2003
Research Review: Engaging parents and carers with support services - lessons from research on help-seeking
Research Review Editor: Brid Featherstone
Engaging parents and carers with family support services: What can be learned from research on help-seeking?
Department of Social Work, University of Central
Lancashire, Preston, UK. Correspondence: Fernbank,
Fernleigh Road, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 7HT,
UK. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The importance of gaining insights about help- seeking appears across a number of fields of health and welfare (Hartnoll 1992; Tucker 1995; Baistow & Wilford 2000; Kanaisty & Norris 2000; Ullman & Filipas 2001). A common concern is that those who may need help (or be perceived to need help) do not ask for help from available services. In relation to the welfare of children, whilst there have been a number of very positive changes to the landscape of personal family support services, concerns remain about the uptake of services (Pugh & DeAth 1994; Wattam 1997; Oakley
. 1998; Frost
. 2000), the gen- dered pattern of service use (Daniel & Taylor 1999; Pithouse & Holland 1999; Armstrong & Hill 2001), problems of reaching some of the most vulnerable families (Wattam 1997; Colclough
. 1999; Mac- donald & Williamson 2002) and accessing services in an increasingly diverse landscape of provision (Oakley
. 1998; Petrie & Wilson 1999; Hallett
. 2000; Tunstill & Aldgate 2000). It is in this context that questions about help-seeking become highly relevant to the development of family support services.
The current landscape of personal family support services can be described as 'post-
Messages from Research
[Department of Health 1995]' (Frost
. 2000), and is characterized by a mixed economy of traditional and innovative family support initiatives. New developments in personal family support have spawned a flurry of evaluative studies which provide information about the effectiveness of new develop- ments. Many of these recent evaluative studies present some positive responses from target communities
(Pithouse & Holland 1999; Department of Health 2000; Armstrong & Hill 2001; Gray 2002; see Smith 1999 for a summary 'what works'). The central argu- ment of this paper is, however, that whilst the trend towards evaluative studies does provide some infor- mation about sources and types of referral, the cur- rent literature on family support offers limited insights into processes of help-seeking. Evaluative studies which focus on referred populations are problematic, in that it is not possible to assume any direct corre- spondence between referrer and...