Developing family support services: A comparison of national reforms and challenges in England, Ireland and Spain


  • Harriet Churchill University of Sheffield, UK
  • Sofía Baena Department of Psychology, University Loyola
  • Rosemary Crosse UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Lucia Jiménez Faculty of Psychology, University of Seville
  • MIchelle Millar UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway



A major aspect of contemporary European family policies has been substantial developments in ‘family and parenting support services’ albeit under challenging conditions of austerity in recent years. This article compares and reviews national reforms in family support, child welfare and positive parenting services in England, Ireland and Spain. The analysis critically compares national ‘system-wide’ reforms and frontline service-based innovations; and situates these within broader national and European policy contexts. The article examines the degrees and ways in which children’s and family services reforms across all three countries have been shaped by family support, children’s rights and social investment policy orientations; and deliberates national differences in the scope, timing and longevity of reforms. It raises critical issues from rights-based perspectives and reflects on cross-national insights.

Author Biographies

Harriet Churchill, University of Sheffield, UK

Lecturer in Social Work, Department of Sociological Studies

Sofía Baena, Department of Psychology, University Loyola

Pre-Doctoral Researcher,

Rosemary Crosse, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway

Post-doctoral researcher

Lucia Jiménez, Faculty of Psychology, University of Seville

Professor of Psychology

MIchelle Millar, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway

Professor of Political Science and Sociology


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How to Cite

Churchill, H., Baena, S., Crosse, R., Jiménez, L., & Millar, M. (2020). Developing family support services: A comparison of national reforms and challenges in England, Ireland and Spain. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 21(2), 58-83.