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Coaching families with multiple problems

Care activities and outcomes of the flexible family support programme Ten for the Future
PhD ceremony:drs. T. (Tim) Tausendfreund
When:March 05, 2015
Supervisors:prof. dr. E.J. (Erik) Knorth, prof. dr. H.W.E. (Hans) Grietens
Co-supervisor:dr. J. (Jana) Knot-Dickscheit
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Coaching families with multiple problems

Families who face a multitude of severe and persistent problems in a number of different areas of life are commonly referred to as multi-problem families in Dutch child welfare. Although evidence suggests that short-term crisis interventions can have positive effects on these families, such programmes did not succeed sufficiently up to now in facilitating sustainable change. Alternatively, interventions that offer integrated care over longer periods of time have been developed but evaluation studies hardly are available yet.

This research project therefore explored a widely employed long-term family support programme in The Netherlands, called ‘Ten for the Future’ [Tien voor Toekomst]. A longitudinal prospective research design was applied. The project included 122 families over a period of four and a half years.

The results show that the intervention 'Ten for the Future' is associated with a significant decrease in family stress, especially within the first year of the intervention. Furthermore, families with lower initial family stress levels were found to have a higher chance to end the programme earlier. Child problem behaviour and family functioning show a lower magnitude and a less coherent pattern of change. This might be explained by a main focus of care workers on direct work with the parents, more than with the children.

It can be concluded that the long-term care programme has evident potential to decrease family stress. We suggest to develop dual care worker approaches that target not only parents but also offer allocated care for children at the same time.