The authors have made great efforts to bring the data to life by presenting the views of the family in a readable format whilst still providing the necessary statistical analysis. Direct quotes are used frequently which provide a pleasant contrast from the tables and figures... This in-depth book would be of use to occupational therapy practitioners who are investigating the issues which affect the uptake of their service in poor environments for two main reasons. Firstly, it provides a useful insight into the perceptions of parents about formal and semi-formal support; secondly, it suggests some new ways of tackling active participation and engagement from families who do not take up an occupational therapy service even though the need has been identified.
Social Policy Vol. 33/2
This is a welcome and timely work, given the continued interest in social capital, and offers a UK perspective on the role of both community ecology and statutory services in the task of child-rearing.
Child & Family Social Work
The strengths of this book lie both in its structure and in the quality of the quantitative data. The introduction sets out the aims of the study and clearly guides the reader to the content of each chapter. The book is divided into five parts, each with an introduction to the main theme and the issues discussed. The survey design appears rigorous and well constructed, with extensive appendices explaining sampling process, data collection and data analysis. The section dealing with issues of coping was of particular interest for two reasons. First, the authors critically engage with the concept of `coping', acknowledging the lack of a clear, and at times partial, definition. They point out that in relation to child welfare the concept tends to focus on outcomes, i.e. the inability, or ability, to cope. An important part of this study is to broaden the concept to understand the process of coping, by exploring both outcomes and strategies parents use to adapt to stress. Second, suggesting that many parents do cope in difficult circumstances raises a political question: why should governments intervene if parents are able to deal with the stresses they encounter? The authors do not lose sight of potential for misuse of their findings, concluding that "material poverty underpinned so many other risk factors in this study" (p.237).
This volume reports crucial findings from the Department of Health's children's research initiative which document how poverty and "stressors" undermine parents' capacity to parent. This is a valuable book for practitioners in Sure Start, child day care, residential work and social work with children.
Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Parenting in Poor Environments reports on a research study with parents that are living in objectively "poor environments"... The nature of the study means that the book has a large volume of quantitative data to convey, however it manages to do so in a digestible way which is aided by a style of writing that re-iterates key messages throughout.
Research and Policy Updates
Policy-makers and practitioners seeking to focus on the ecology of parenting will find much in this well-written study to inform their knowledge base and daily work.