Information for Professionals

Families Feeling Safe, A Protective Behaviours Programme for Mums, Dads and Carers

The Families Feeling Safe programme is an evidence-based parenting programme. The programme is for mums, dads and carers of children from the ages of 0 to 19. There are 9 sessions and 1 follow up/reunion session that usually takes place 3 months after the end of the programme. Each parent/carer receives their own workbook.

The Families Feeling Safe programme is an evidence-based parenting programme. The programme is for mums, dads and carers of children from the ages of 0 to 19. There are 9 sessions and 1 follow up/reunion session that usually takes place 3 months after the end of the programme. Each parent/carer receives their own workbook.

Purpose of the programme

Families Feeling Safe programme is based on the Protective Behaviours process, an empowering, practical and down to earth approach to personal safety.

The programme is designed to enable parents and carers to recognise and build upon their own strengths, resulting in them feeling more empowered and in control, and with ideas and strategies to share with their children. It does this by enabling them to raise their skills in:shutterstock_142808332 (Large)

  • Managing and understanding children’s behaviour
  • Recognising and trusting feelings
  • Expressing all feelings in a responsible way
  • Staying in control
  • Making safe choices
  • Building networks of support
  • Communicating with others

It also enables participants to raise their awareness of themselves and others by increasing their:

  • Confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Decision making ability
  • Resilience
  • Self-esteem

Background to the programme

The programme was developed by Fiona Benjamin and Dave Austin as a result of their Protective Behaviours work with parents and carers through Action for Children and Bedfordshire Youth Offending Service, beginning in 1999. Parents and carers who have attended the programme have presented with a range of needs mainly falling within Tier 2 and Targeted needs. The programme was published in 2011 and the workbook in 2012. Since publication the programme has been commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council for mums, dads & carers of children 0-19 years and by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Early Intervention for parents and carers of children 0- 5 years. Families Feeling Safe facilitator training courses have run to enable settings such as children’s centres and school partnerships to develop their own capacity to run the programme themselves.

The effectiveness of the programme

Following several years of case study, monitoring and evaluations, research was undertaken by the University of Bedfordshire during 2012 – 2013. The final report was published in August 2013 with the key findings are as follows:

  • Statistically significant outcomes to ‘parents’ wellbeing’ and ‘parental sense of competence’.
  • Short-term emotional behaviours and communication skills were significantly enhanced.
  • The changes that parents hope to make had significantly increased post-intervention.
  • Post intervention, parents reported that if safety issues occurred they would draw upon internal resources such as ‘staying clam’ and taking control of the situation.
  • Parents noted they would use a range of practical strategies to help keep themselves and their children feeling safe.
  • Parents would appreciate a refresher course to reinforce newly acquired knowledge and strategies.
  • The University of Bedfordshire completed a one-year follow-on qualitative research project with parents and carers who participated in their original research with the purpose of establishing long- lasting benefits of having completed the programme. This research highlighted the following:
  • Parents enjoyed the inclusive nature of the programme. Although parents may have come from different backgrounds they were able to empathise with each other. The way the programme was delivered meant that they did not feel alone or stigmatised by the issues they were facing.
  • The previous evaluation found a significant increase in parents’ well-being, confidence, self-efficacy and communication in the short term. The qualitative methods used in the evaluation found that for the majority of parents the programme enhanced these factors in the long term. Improved well-being was attributed to the knowledge and awareness they had gained from taking part in the programme and the employment of various parenting strategies.
  • Parents reported that they generally considered that their relationships with their children had improved since taking part in the programme. Parents felt confident that their children were now able to talk to them if they were feeling unsafe.   This had led to improved behaviour in their children.  Furthermore, parents stated that they had been able to equip themselves and their children with ideas to use in situations where they felt anxious or unsafe.

Quality Assurance

We are working to ensure programme fidelity and quality assurance through the following measures:

  • Using appropriate resources including the Families Feeling Safe Participant Workbook.
  • Registration of Families Feeling Safe facilitators
  • Network meetings of facilitators
  • Attendance of facilitators at Continuing Professional development days
  • Registration of all courses.

Quotes from professionals

  • There have been really good outcomes for families that have attended the programme. We need more of them.
  • This programme compliments other groups
  • This is an excellent programme
  • This is just what we’ve been looking for

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