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Stepping Stones for Families’ Family Wellbeing Service: evaluation

Date: June 2019
Category: Report
Author: GCPH

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We know that young children’s life chances are improved by adequate family incomes, positive family relationships, good parenting and access to high quality, accessible affordable early learning and childcare (ELC).  We have previously conducted a range of research and evaluation to build understanding regarding what is important in relation to early years’ and childhood experiences for healthy development and for health and wellbeing throughout the life course.

This work has been drawn together in a published synthesis of our learning about what factors influence the health of babies, children and young people and how improving circumstances during this life stage can help improve health and tackle health inequalities. 

Evaluating Stepping Stones for Families’ Family Wellbeing Service (FWS) provided us with an opportunity to explore the impacts of a family support service on parent and child wellbeing. The FWS works with nurseries to provide holistic support to parents of pre-school children in north east and north west Glasgow.  At the time of the evaluation, the Service was approaching the end of a five-year funding package from the National Lottery Community Fund.

Our aims of evaluating this project were to: 

  • Generate a better, richer understanding of the impacts of a family wellbeing service such as this. The previous parenting research study facilitated by GCPH highlighted the importance of  family support which can take account of and respond to a family’s economic, social and cultural context.
  • Gather valuable information about different approaches to parental/family engagement and relationship building – what works how, why and where. The nurture research conducted in Glasgow in 2014 concluded that more work needed to be done to understand how to engage with families through ELC settings.
  • Assess other benefits generated by the project and explore challenges/barriers to achieving project outcomes
  • Inform and enhance learning from the CHANGE: Childcare and Nurture Glasgow East and Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland initiatives 

GCPH and Stepping Stones for Families commissioned Nick Hopkins Consulting to conduct the fieldwork for the evaluation which took place in late 2018. 

Conclusions were that the Service had been very successful in boosting parents’ confidence, health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation and anxiety as well as providing practical support in relation to money worries, housing issues and family relationships. Children appeared to be healthier, calmer and more engaged at nursery following parental involvement with the Service. The Service had also helped to resolve or prevent some child protection issues.

Family Wellbeing Service workers were felt to be committed to the families with whom they were working, treating parents as being of value, working with them in a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental way no matter what issues they presented.

A two page summary of findings is also available (PDF).