Why family support is important
The early years of a child’s life are incredibly important for long-term development. Yet while parents want the best for their children, not every parent has access to the support they need.
A pilot study into Save the Children's Volunteer Family Connect found families supported through the program experienced significant changes, especially in when it came to parent wellbeing, and social support and connectedness. There was also improvement in parents' mental health.
For many families, the stress of parenting can be compounded by a range of factors such as the breakdown of a relationship, the lack of nearby family and friends, having multiple children, or language barriers. Reducing isolation and anxiety for parents is crucial for the wellbeing of children and their families.
Save the Children’s Volunteer Family Connect program
Volunteer Family Connect links a family in need with a trained and supervised volunteer, who supports parents or guardians to develop skills to raise their children in happy, safe and loving environments.
The program focuses on the importance of parent-child bonding and bridges the gap between families and their local communities. Volunteers link families to services in the community, and help them to develop their own coping and parenting strategies.
The families who reach out to Volunteer Family Connect are often feeling vulnerable and in need of support, yet their situation may not be extreme enough for them to quality for our Intensive Family Support Services
Volunteers are usually local people in the community who want to extend support and friendship to others. They are supervised, trained and supported by a Save the Children program coordinator.
The volunteer works in partnership with a family for one to two hours per week to offer friendly support and encouragement in a non-threatening, non-directive, non-judgemental manner. Volunteers may assist parents and young children at home, in a community space, or by accompanying them to an appointment or on an errand.
In their words: Jan and Kelli
Here we speak to two of our amazing volunteers, Jan and Kelli, who give their time to help out families who need a bit of support. Volunteers who participate in this program also benefit from long-term meaningful participation in their community, and from developing new skills they can share with others.
How we know we're making a difference
A pilot study into Volunteer Family Connect found parents supported through the program experienced significantly better mental health and wellbeing. They were getting more social support and feeling more connected to their community, all of which builds more loving, happy and nurturing environments for young children at home.
Banner image: Robert McKechnie/Save the Children