Combining State and Voluntary Provision: Using Volunteers in Home-Based Child Protection - Preliminary Indications for the Mental Wellbeing of Family Members

Jane Akister, Niamh O’Brien

Abstract


Background: In the UK there is a policy initiative to encourage volunteering to promote community participation and engagement in society. ‘Volunteers in Child Protection’ is a scheme promoting volunteers to work alongside statutory child care workers in complex child protection cases. Trained volunteers offer practical and emotional support to families. This project evaluated the experience of the scheme from the perspective of the families, the statutory workers and the mental health outcomes for the family.

 

Methods: This is a small scale mixed methods study of families subject to child protection procedures, who are very hard to engage in research. The study examines the impact of volunteers using standardized, repeat measures of mental wellbeing, plus semi-structured interviews with parents, volunteers and stakeholders.

 

Results: Family experience – families value their volunteers involvement and report increased confidence in their parenting capacity. Volunteer experience – volunteers feel they are performing a worthwhile service and report improvement in the families. Mental wellbeing outcomes - on referral two thirds of the families are dysfunctional, children have emotional and behavioral disturbance and some mothers have clinical levels of depression. Repeat measures indicate improvements during the volunteer intervention.

 

Conclusions: Volunteers can work effectively with complex families, working alongside statutory professional involvement. The volunteers are highly valued by the service users who report improved confidence in their parenting skills and improvements in their own mental wellbeing. Repeat measures support the service user’s reports of improvement in children’s emotional and behavioral wellbeing, family functioning and mother’s mental wellbeing.

 


Keywords


volunteers; home-based child protection; mental wellbeing.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/ijbsr.v2i6.147

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International journal of business and social research (Print)
ISSN 2164-2540

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[International Journal of Business and Social Research (IJBSR) previously published by MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, MD, USA. From February 2018 this journal is published by the LAR Center Press, OR, USA]