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Family Support
A Key Topic Resource List

Publication Date: April 2007

This Key Topic Resource List on Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) was compiled by Research Connections .

Research Connections conducted a comprehensive search of its collection for resources focused on family support. This Key Topic Resource List includes an overview of what the family support literature addresses, as well as a listing of selected resources on the topic. Search results are grouped into three broad areas:

  • Overview of family support
  • Child care, early education, and family support
  • Evaluation of family support programs

From the many results, Research Connections selected a limited number of resources of various types including reports and papers, fact sheets and briefs, summaries, and reviews. Selection criteria included policy relevance and date of publication. 

Resources are organized according to publisher type and publication date. Research Connections’ one-sentence description is included for each resource on the following list. For complete citations, which include abstracts and full text for some resources, click on the titles.


The goal of family support services is to ensure that families are able to meet their needs and overcome stressors that impair effective parenting. By helping families to provide a nurturing environment, family support services play a critical role in fostering the healthy development and school readiness of young children. Additionally, family support is seen as a crucial early intervention strategy for children who are at risk, or those with special needs. The concept of family support, while initially encompassing only income support, has evolved over time to include a more comprehensive and often integrated set of services. These include: “material supports” (such as cash assistance, tax credits, child care, family leave); and “instrumental supports” (such as parenting education, health and mental health services, employment services, family court services, resource and referral services).

Given the broad definition of family support, it is difficult to categorize the research around family support. Much of the research is descriptive focusing on specific services and methods of delivery. There are also a handful of evaluations examining the impact or outcomes of various individual and integrated family support programs. Examples of some of research questions in this field include:

  • What types of family support (both formal and informal) do relative and non-relative caregivers provide?
  • How does flexibility in family support relate to employment retention for low-income parents?
  • What types of family support services and methods of delivery enhance school readiness?
  • How are various integrated family support programs implemented and what are the effects of these services on family and child outcomes?
  • How does the effectiveness of family support programs vary based on the characteristics, needs and circumstances of families?

For more information or additional Key Topic Resource Lists, please go to the Research Connections website.