By Deborah Ghate and Neal Hazel.
Jessica Kingsley Publsihers
This volume reports crucial findings from the Department of Health’s children’s research initiative which document how poverty and “stressors” undermine parents’ capacity to parent. This is a valuable book for practitioners in Sure Start, child day care, residential work and social work with children.
Drawing on some 1,700 interviews, the authors show how stress factors found at individual and family level (such as the poor mental health of child or parent or the level of indebtedness) arise from impoverished environments. They also show how “neighbourhood effects” impinge on families living in areas with a high concentration of poverty. The authors have also mastered a range of published studies that reveals the strain poverty places on parents. Any concept for understanding “parental inadequacy” that does not recognise this central fact is deeply flawed.
The meat of the book lies in the careful look at families’ coping strategies, the types of support available in poor environments and what parents want from support services. In effect, the volume is an emphatic message to practitioners to put a new, more evidence-based support system in place.
John Pierson is senior lecturer, Staffordshire University, and author of Tackling Social Exclusion (Routledge/Community Care, 2002)