The purpose of this paper is to examine Family Development Centre (FDC) staff’s perspectives on their roles and capacity to promote early childhood language learning through good parenting.
This research employed in-depth interviews with 30 FDC coordinators and volunteer staff, supported by limited field observations.
Identifying risk, surveillance of at-risk families, building community solidarity and activities to support parenting and children, emerged as key components of FDC work. Volunteers softened their surveillance role by emphasising their social support function and personal links to local communities. Most activities aimed to strengthen family bonding and relationships, with fewer specifically addressing early childhood language deficits. Volunteers found the latter challenging, and generally sought to work in cooperation with education, public health and child care staff where projects involved language development.
Most volunteers said they lacked the capacities to promote early language development effectively and required additional training in such areas as partnerships and collaboration, family and parenting support, and project management. The authors argue that the importance given to partnerships reflects volunteers’ recognition that they need to draw on outside expertise to address children’s language problems. Given resource constraints, volunteers will remain central to family support work for the immediate future. Even with training lay volunteers will not become language experts, and future policy should centre on building a framework of professional support for the community teams.
This study fills a gap in knowledge about FDC volunteer roles and suggests a need for training that focuses on teamwork rather than specialist language expertise.
The authors are grateful to FDC volunteers and coordinators for participating in this study. The authors thank the anonymous referees of the journal for their constructive suggestions. This paper was prepared while Warunsicha Supprasert was a visiting doctoral student at Swansea University, UK, and Warunsicha is indebted to those who assisted in discussions about the study. This paper is a part of research project funded by Praboromarajchanok Institute for Health Workforce Development, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand.
Supprasert, W., Hughes, D. and Khajornchaikul, P. (2018), "Roles and capacities of Thai family development centres", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 13 No. 3/4, pp. 110-121. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCS-11-2017-0048Download as .RIS
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