Journal Article

Mothers’ Coping Strategies as Child and Family Care Service Applicants

Michael Sheppard

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 5, pages 743-759
Published in print July 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Mothers’ Coping Strategies as Child and Family Care Service Applicants

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The central position of parents, in particular, mothers, in childcare has been the focus of much recent legislation and research in social work. This is evident in notions such as parental responsibility, family support and prevention. However, while family support and prevention have invited consideration of what formal and informal services can do to help families with difficulties, there has been less focus on what these families, particularly parents, do for themselves. This is particularly important where thresholds for receipt of sustained social services intervention are so high, leaving families with considerable problems and needs without access to sustained intervention. Drawing upon Coping Theory, this paper seeks to begin to answer the question: how do these families (specifically the mother, who is generally the primary caregiver) cope? Focusing on families who have been service applicants, but not taken on to caseload, this paper focuses on the coping strategies employed by mothers in adversity, how these strategies vary, and how well the women themselves feel they have coped. Amongst the findings, there was evidence of significant differences in problem severity and profile, as well as coping strategy, according to age of child; of a relationship between problem severity and ‘effort for coping’; and that there was a strong relationship between problem severity and women’s rating of their coping, although only in relation to parenting. The paper emphasizes women as active problem solvers in their own right, and the theoretical importance of integrating coping with the notion of prevention.

Keywords: mothers’ coping; children in need; family support; prevention; service applicants and service users

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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