Report of parental participation seed-funded projects
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Crosse, R. and Devaney, C. (2018) Report of Parental Participation Seed-Funded Projects, Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland Galway.
The Parental Participation Project is an initiative of the Parenting strand of the Atlantic Philanthropies, Ireland–funded Prevention Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) programme of work. Tusla – Child and Family Agency, is committed to supporting parenting and encouraging meaningful parental participation in the planning and delivery of services. This is in line with government commitments to support parents and parenting through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (2014–2020) and its High-Level Policy Statement on Supporting Parents and Families (Parenting and Family Support). Parental participation means providing opportunities for all parents to have a say in decisions affecting their lives and the lives of their children, including participation in all aspects of their care and education. The aim of the Parental Participation Project is to encourage parents’ participation in their own children’s care and education and to enable their participation in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services (Tusla, 2016). To that end, Tusla has allocated an overall budget of G340,000 to fund local projects over a two-year period (2016–2018) that are focused on parental participation. A number of projects were awarded Parental Participation grant funding, and approved projects address at least one of five Parental Participation themes: enhancing parenting skills to support parents’ participation in their children’s care and education; parental participation in the planning of services; parental participation in the delivery and evaluation of services; parental participation when there are additional challenges (for example, family conflicts, lone parenting, teen parenting, parenting when there is a mental health issue); and participation for others in a caring role (for example, grandparents, foster carers, childminders). In addition, projects were reviewed for adherence to a number of criteria, in order of priority: that a collaborative approach be taken to formulating proposals with participation from Tusla staff and partner organisations; that all initiatives should be needs-led; that priority be given to seldom-heard voices; that initiatives should consider their effectiveness and be underpinned by an evidence base; projects which focus on supporting Parental Participation in the early years stage; and projects which are sustainable beyond 2018 and preferably have a two-year life span. In 2016 Tusla recorded Parental Participation initiatives across 17 areas amounting to 36 Parental Participation projects in total. Projects vary in duration and have staggered start dates and differing progression rates.1 The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) at NUI Galway is charged with evaluating the Parental Participation Seed Funding Scheme as part of the Parenting Support and Parental Participation Work Package. This Work Package is part of a wider programme of work to research and evaluate Tusla’s Development and Mainstreaming Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. This report details the views of managers and practitioners’ involved in selected seed-funded projects. It focuses primarily on overall parental participation in terms of: perceptions of parental participation, its effects on practice, its impact on parents, challenges to participatory practice, and sustainability over time.
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