Supports for Families
The major indicator for this measure of success is the percent of parents/caregivers reporting access to sufficient social supports and no difficulty paying for usual household expenses.
Consistent access to social and concrete supports can have positive, long-term effects on children and families. Maternal social supports, such as extended social networks, can enhance children’s cognitive abilities and language skills, particularly vocabulary. A lack of maternal social support is associated with decreased child intelligence scores. Mothers with established social supports benefit from improved psychological well-being, leading to better home learning environments and higher cognitive outcomes among children.
Concrete supports are the tangible resources necessary to ensure safety and well-being of children, including food, safe housing, and health care. Access to concrete supports is negatively correlated with risk for child abuse, stress, and depression.
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- Kyong Shin et al_2019_Association of Maternal Social Relationships With Cognitive Development: Study of 1,082 mother-child dyads in Tennessee from 2006 to 2014. Assessed effects of parental social networks and child cognitive outcomes at age two. Social networks considered in the study include triad, family and neighborhood networks. Cognitive development was measured using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID). Found that the size of the mother’s social network was positively associated with a child’s early cognitive development.
- Rostad et al 2018 The Influence of Concrete Support on Child Welfare Program Engagement, Progress, and Recurrence: Analysis of a survey of 1,754 parents or caregivers enrolled in home-based services under contract with the child welfare system in one Southern state. The study examined the influence of concrete supports on parenting outcomes and family engagement, retention, and satisfaction with the support services. Results show that additional concrete support such as money for rent, food, or clothing, can be a beneficial strategy in increasing short-term child safety and service engagement and satisfaction.
- Chang_2015_Pathways from mothers’ early social support: Analysis of 1,725 Korean children, followed from birth to age three, and their mothers, from 2008 to 2011. Examined the effect of maternal supports on outcomes such as child language development, mothers’ psychological well-being, and the home learning environment. Results showed that social supports led to a better home learning environment, which in turn, improved child language development, as measured by vocabulary skills. Similarly, the study found that social supports led to better psychological well-being among the childrens’ mothers, which in turn led to a better home learning environment, and this improved language development.
- Slykerman et al_2005_Maternal stress, social support and preschool: Analysis of 550 European mother-child dyads, following participants over three years, from the child’s birth until age three. Measured social support using a family support scale, and child cognitive ability was measured using an intelligence scale. Results showed a significant association between the lack of a mother’s social supports and lower child intelligence scores.
- Burchinal et al_1996_The Relations of Maternal Social Support and Family Structure: Longitudinal study of 62 Black/African American mother-child dyads with low incomes. Examined the relationship between maternal social supports and child behavioral and cognitive development. Social supports in this study were defined as the mother’s social network size, number of individuals with varying types of relationships to the mother, number of individuals assisting with child care, and network density. Child behavior and cognitive measures were assessed with behavior and intelligence scales. Found that mothers with larger social support networks were more likely to have stimulating home environments and were more responsive to their interactions with their children. A larger social network was also associated with higher child activity levels.