Supporting Parents: A National Model of Parenting Support Services

Supporting Parents is a cross-government approach to ensuring:

  • greater awareness of parenting support services
  • greater access to parenting support service
  • more inclusive parenting support services
  • needs-led and evidence-informed parenting support services

What Supporting Parents is

Supporting Parents is a national model for parenting support services, which takes a whole-of-government approach to improving supports for parenting. It follows a commitment in First 5 to improve existing parenting supports provided across a range of government departments and State agencies, through the development of a national model.

The vision of Supporting Parents is for all parents to be confident and capable in their parenting role, helping to achieve the best outcomes for children and families.

In developing Supporting Parents, the government seeks to improve services by setting out a shared vision with agreed principles and shared goals to promote a cohesive, joined-up national approach across different sectors. The plan takes account of existing policies and commitments in relation to parenting supports, and seeks to strengthen and develop mechanisms for effective coordination, co-operation and collaboration.

What parenting support services are and who can access them

Parenting support services provide information and services aimed at strengthening parents’ knowledge, confidence and skills to help achieve the best outcomes for children and families. Examples of parenting supports include:

  • parenting support programmes
  • parent and toddler groups
  • parenting talks
  • information sharing and referrals
  • mentoring
  • specific targeted supports, such as perinatal care or support for single parents

A broad range of parenting supports, delivered in a variety of formats, is required to meet the needs of all parents and their children.

Supporting Parents defines a parent as any person with a parenting role, which is any person with primary or major responsibility for the care of a child under the age of 18 years. The term parent is applied in the most inclusive manner as possible, and includes biological parents, adoptive parents, foster carers, step-parents, kinship carers, and guardians.

How Supporting Parents was created

Supporting Parents was developed by a collaborative working group led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), with input from a wide range of stakeholders across government departments, agencies and community and voluntary organisations. The experiences, views and preferences of parents, children and young people were captured through research, online consultation and direct engagement.

Supporting Parents has been informed by Irish and international research on the support needs of parents and on the role of parents in achieving better outcomes for their children.

What Supporting Parents will do

Supporting Parents sets out 23 actions to allow for greater access, information and inclusion with regard to parenting support services, which includes plans to:

  • promote collaborative working, cohesive planning and delivery
  • review current service provision, identify service gaps and develop an agreed approach to facilitate service consistency
  • develop guidelines, resources, and training to increase promotion and access to parenting support services
  • consult more with parents and commission research on parenting support needs
  • establish a parenting support awareness fund
  • develop and deliver a three-year communications plan to support actions in the plan
  • set up a cross-government network to share learning and showcase best practice across the civil and public service

How these actions will be implemented

The structure of Supporting Parents allows for a number of groups that will oversee the implementation of all actions:

  • a Programme Delivery Office, based in DCEDIY, will lead on the delivery of key actions and support the effective functioning of the other implementation structures
  • the Supporting Parents Steering Group will consist of representatives from DCEDIY, the HSE, and Tusla. It will guide the delivery of parenting supports nationally and locally
  • an Implementation Group chaired by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, will meet at minimum twice a year. The group will include stakeholders from the State, semi-State and community and voluntary sectors, as well as parents themselves
  • a Cross-Government Parenting Support Network will be established for public and civil servants to share learning and showcase best practice

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