Pro-Family Initiatives Take Many Forms

15 Apr 2019

All over Europe, civil society is not waiting for governments to solve the problems families face. Varied initiatives in many countries seek to strengthen this fundamental building block of society.

STI Experts

There are any number of policies in place in different European countries that are designed to give a boost to families. Pablo García Ruiz, professor of sociology and psychology at the University of Zaragoza and lead researcher of the “Family Policies: Good Practices in Europe” report, believes that individual policies “cannot be copied exactly from one country to the next, but they can be adapted.”

The study, which considered “best practices” in terms of their contribution to family well-being, took into particular account children’s well-being and their psycho-social development within their families and communities, García Ruiz explains.

Families, he added, “contribute a lot to society, but they need support to contribute to the society in which they live - support governments can give them.” But trying to pass laws isn’t enough, he adds. “Putting policies into practice requires collaboration from other social agents.”

There are examples in Spain of such collaborations, like the group Más Familia’s (More Family) “certificate of family-friendly business,” and the NGO Desarollo y Asistencia’s (Development and Aid) project “Hoy Salimos” (Today We’re Going Out) – an inclusive leisure activity for intellectually or physically challenged minors.

The Family Watch, a family studies think tank, identified in the Report 32 examples of promising initiatives underway in the last few years around Europe - led by public, private and combined institutions. The programs have been classified in the report according to the particular area of family policy they address: family perspective; equality of opportunity for vulnerable families; child care; work-family balance; intergenerational solidarity; education and family implication; and family workshops. They hail from 16 countries: Italy; United Kingdom; Lithuania; Finland; Sweden; Holland; The Czech Republic; Ireland; Denmark; Portugal; Spain; Belgium; France; Germany; Poland; and Switzerland.

Some of the programs seek to put families at the center of government action. Others work on a personal level with family members to strengthen relationships and support individuals in their family roles. Some work with families who have added difficulties like poverty, physical or mental challenges, single-parenthood, poor education or delinquency. Others propose variations on early childhood care and education. Those that work towards improving the work-family balance incentivize and recognize workplace initiatives rather than lobbying for government intervention. Three of the Belgian programs involve housing solutions for the elderly, for families with children, for immigrants, for people with Down syndrome, and for those suffering from dementia. Several of the initiatives impart parenting skills, some of them directed at special needs.