Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report - Volume Two. 6. Social Support

Because the support that families receive from relatives and friends is widely thought to contribute to family and child well-being, at each of the three interviews, we asked caretakers about the kinds of informal supports that were available to them. Caretakers were asked how frequently they had contact with their mothers and fathers, adult brothers and sisters, and up to four friends. For each person that the caretaker reported having contact with at least once a year, they were asked whether the person could be relied on for each of three kinds of support -- emotional (talking over problems), instrumental (help with money or housework), and informational (advice on how to handle problems). In addition, caretakers who were residing with partners were asked about the support that they received from their partners.

In the following analyses, we examine several aspects of the caretakers' informal support systems. We first examine the extent to which caretakers had family and friends available who might provide support, and the proportion of partners, siblings, parents, and friends that the caretakers could rely on for support. Second, the levels of emotional, informational, and instrumental support available from each group of relatives and friends is assessed. Finally, because increasing the level of informal social support is sometimes thought to be a useful outcome of family preservation services, we examine whether there was change in the levels of support that were available to the caretakers.

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