Governing 'new social risks': The case of recent child policies in European welfare states.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Social Policy and Intervention


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


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Daly M (2018) Towards a theorization of the relationship between poverty and family in Social Policy & Administration

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Daly M (2013) Parenting support policies in Europe in Families, Relationships and Societies

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Daly M (2013) Parenting support: Another gender-related policy illusion in Europe? in Women's Studies International Forum

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Daly, Mary (2013) Fruehe Bildung in der Familie

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/I014861/1 12/09/2011 14/10/2012 £200,457
ES/I014861/2 Transfer ES/I014861/1 15/10/2012 28/02/2015 £131,057
Description 1. We have discovered that parenting support is widespread as a form of social policy in the four countries studied (as well as Sweden which we voluntarily included in the study)- and that it is growing in importance and significance as a type of social policy intervention across the different countries studied. Its significant growth in England has been expedited by its relatively low cost (mainly because parenting courses can be run at little cost and do not require highly-trained staff) and the fact that it fits with some of the current trends and ideologies in social policy (towards activation, towards children's well-being and towards interventions in families) . Looking within and across countries though, it is important to underline the variation that exists. The variation depends mainly on the nature and history of family/children's policy in a particular country, the values and attitudes that prevail regarding family and intervention in private life, and perceived problems or needs (and acceptable solutions) regarding parent-related issues.
2. Parenting support is effecting a change in the service offer - becoming an established element not just of social policy but also education and health policy. That said, parenting support is not necessarily an integrated offer in that it is being pursued in these different policy domains more or less independently. The 'gap' between parenting support as run through children's services and Children's Centres and that offered by the Family Nurse Partnership is particularly noticeable. This gap exists at both local and national levels. It is a pity that the resources (including family contacts) are not shared. The possibility of children's services having a strategic approach and perhaps leadership role to coordinate the work should be seriously considered
3. The study also revealed the views and conditions of those working in/observing/making decisions on parenting support in two areas of the country (as well as some key people at national level). These reveal that parenting support is utilised to be an answer to a very wide range of problems and that the label 'parenting support conceals provisions that are serving a number of quite different purposes and expectations. Sometimes these relate to children, sometimes to parents, sometimes to the parent-child relationship and sometimes to more than one or all of these. For this and other reasons, the study concludes a) that the needs that parenting support can meet need to be critically considered before a provision is put in place and b) that parenting support is somewhat over-promised and is incapable of delivering on all the expectations there are of it. There is one danger especially to be highlighted in this context. If there is a substitution of existing investment into parenting support, the risk of unmet need (and of undermining other types of interventions) increases.
4. The voices of parents and children are relatively silent in parenting support. The study suggests that Providers should work more closely with parents and pay greater attention to parent perceptions of and reactions to a particular service offer, especially at the time of the initial request but also on an ongoing basis.
Exploitation Route The study findings have both academic/intellectual implications as well as policy implications.
The academic/intellectual implications have already fed into two further studies: one by the author for UNICEF on family and parenting support globally (listed under further funding) and a second by a Swedish colleague - Professor Asa Lundqvist of Lund University - who has secured funding from Forte for a project on the politics of parenting support in Sweden (see
In terms of taking forward the policy implications, we have prepared a key tips document to circulate to all respondents which sets out lessons to be learned and key challenges to be addressed and how. It is intended to circulate these widely to policy makers and other included in and associated with the study.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The research led to very strong links being established with local policy makers - especially in the Oxford area - and a number of meetings have been held about implementing the findings and reviewing practice in the light of them. This is true in relation to parenting support in particular but also in a more general sense of the research needs of the service providers. However it must be said that these plans are now shelved given the cutbacks in children's services. This is one of the major challenges to be overcome in achieving impact. At an international level, the research has also had impact. In particular UNICEF commissioned a research from me in 2013 to develop a model to conceptualise and investigate the development of parenting and family support on a global basis. This was published in 2015 and has since been used by UNICEF in both the field especially in South Africa. This report has also been used in evidence in an official report on progress on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in South Africa (ISS Country FactSheets for the CRC - South Africa).
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Family and Parenting Support on a Global Basis
Amount £34,500 (GBP)
Organisation UNICEF 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 12/2013 
End 10/2014
Description Family and Parenting Support on a Global Basis 
Organisation UNICEF
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution New research grant to Daly for the purpose of extending elements of the ESRC research to investigate parenting support (and family support) globally
Collaborator Contribution funded new research
Impact report to be published in 2015
Start Year 2013
Description Knowledge Exchange with service providers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave an input to the Centre for Effectiveness seminar held in Dublin on July 1st 2013, raising questions about parenting support as a set of policies and practices. This sparked great discussion on the day as well as a number of invitations after. It also led a number of practitioners to contact me to ask for advice.

The Irish government subsequently adopted a policy on parenting support after this event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013