Self-referral programme for parents: Mums and dads simply saying ‘I need help'

Self-referral programme for parents: Mums and dads simply saying ‘I need help'

Almost one in four parents who participated in the Barnardos Partnership with Parents (PwP) programme was a self-referral. These were mums and dads who were saying very simply: ‘I need help.’

“Parenting can be a tough job,” says Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly, explaining PwP, an intensive one-to-one parenting support programme, is unique because it’s home-based.

“The parent doesn’t have to travel. The project worker comes to their home. And the project worker gets a sense of what the parent might be coping with.

For example, if the parent’s saying they’d really like to work on getting some routine into family life and the project worker can see there’s not much room in the house or it’s quite chaotic, they can ask the parent ‘how can we find ways to create more order’.”

Just over half of referrals to PwP came from Tusla/social workers, while others came through community-based, mental health or disability services.

Barnardos launched positive results of an evaluation of the programme, which has supported over 2,200 families to make good changes in their lives.

One Waterford parent said:

When you start off with Barnardos you know there are things that are broken. It’s like you are careening down a hill with no control and God knows what was going to hit when you hit the bottom, but now it’s like it’s given you back your brakes and you have your control back.

Another mother, describing the struggle that led to her getting support from PwP, said:

“Before when I was so stressed with him — when he was having his tempers and stuff in the mornings — I just wouldn’t bring him to school.”

Connolly points to situations like separation or bereavement, where a mum/dad is very sad and parenting at the same time can almost feel like too much.

“They want to be able to manage what’s going on and still be a good parent. We try to help them be a good enough parent despite what’s going on in their life.”

Top reasons for referral to PwP were for parenting skills (17%), dealing with behaviour needs (13%), for help with children with emotional difficulties (13%), parental separation (8%) and child welfare concerns (7%). After the programme, parents felt less anxious.

They had a sense of having more control as a parent, especially by relying on strategies that replaced punitive actions they might have taken previously.

barnardos.ie

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