The second meeting of EuroFam-Net working groups took place in Porto on 5-7 February 2020. This is a very exciting period in the life of this COST Action as we are in the phase when we define research question for the coming years. This research will inform the building of a European framework on family support, quality standards for family support services and programmes as well as developing a skills framework for those working for service providers.
This project is probably the most important of our current ones as it can have an impact on the lives of parents all over Europe, and probably beyond. We were happy to see that the working group leads are planning to base the activities on the UN Convention of the Right of the Child (UNCRC). This is the general basis for our work, too. We were happy to see that the starting point for the family support framework is a catalogue of those articles of the UNCRC that are related to parents. This means that our colleagues acknowledge the responsibility of parents for the upbringing of their children and the obligation for states to provide the forms and kinds of support that families really need.
The most important next steps is to ensure that this approach will be used throughout the whole project. This will be a difficult task as we might have to work against current political agendas that tend to define families’ and parents’ needs, based on input from a limited circle of civil society organisations claiming representativeness. Our aim is to ensure that the EuroFam-Net will be based on trust in parents and families understanding that an overwhelming majority of them are aware of their support needs and are responsible in their parenting and family life, rather than implementing a control mechanism that the EC and governments tend to implement as it is a much easier task.
After the Porto meeting we have high hopes that this work can lead to a framework that countries can implement in order to move away from the “take it or leave it” approach to family support, and reflect on the real needs of families, taking the best interest of the child as the ground. For this, we are also doing a stocktaking exercise on child-rights based international policies such as that of the WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF.
In the coming months, we will continue working on a systematic literature review to support the creation of the planned outputs, and we will also support the policy review work. We are also supporting the creation and work of national chapters of the Action, and invite our members to contribute to the creation of national case studies that will then also inform our further work.