Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Most parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice, or concrete support. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.
Social Connections (PDF - 264 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2008)
Explains this protective factor and how early care and education programs contribute to social connections.
Relationships Matter: How Agencies Can Support Family and Social Network Development (PDF - 231 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2006)
Reports on the discussions and lessons learned about social networks gathered from visits with families conducted by Casey's social network team.
The Effects of Caregiver Social Connections on Caregiver, Child, and Family Well-Being
Munsell, Kilmer, Cook, & Reeve (2012)
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(1)
Examines the degree to which caregiver social connectedness influences the effects of strain associated with caring for a child with severe emotional disturbance on caregiver well-being.
Effects of Social Support and Conflict on Parenting Among Homeless Mothers
Marra, McCarthy, Lin, Ford, Rodis, & Frisman
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(3), 2009
Examines the impact of conflict and social support on parenting behaviors in a sample of mothers who are homeless and were involved in a study of case management interventions of varying intensity. Results suggest that social support may enhance homeless mothers' ability to provide consistent parenting.
Family Strengthening Policy Center
National Human Services Assembly
Identifies initiatives that reduce family isolation, increase connections to economic opportunities, develop sustainable social networks, and improve access to supports and services.
The National Parent Helpline: Strengthening Families All Across America (PDF - 319 KB)
National Parent Helpline (2011)
Highlights the National Parent Helpline, a website that provides parents and caregivers with emotional support and refers them to services if necessary.
Responsible Fatherhood Spotlight: Father Involvement and Social Support (PDF - 258 KB)
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (2010)
Explores the relationship between social support and father involvement by reviewing findings from research studies that indicate fathers who report having high levels of social support experience better psychological well-being and demonstrate more positive patterns of father involvement and co-parenting.
Social Capital, Family Violence, and Neglect
Zolotor & Runyan
Pediatrics, 117(6), 2006
This study found that increasing social capital decreases the odds of neglectful parenting, psychologically harsh parenting, and domestic violence but not harsh physical punishment.
Social Support: Improving Outcomes for Adolescent Parents and Their Children (PDF - 387 KB)
Florida State University Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy (2005)
Outlines the research on social and emotional support for teen parents, including guidance, social reinforcement, practical assistance with the tasks of daily living, and social stimulation.
Social Networks Make a Difference: Family Economic Success (PDF - 1600 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2007)
Describes the ways a social networks approach can contribute to the success of vulnerable families.
Strengthening Families: Social Connections
Forthun, Carannante, & Diehl (2011)
University of Florida Department of Family, Youth, and Community Services & Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Focuses on the importance of maintaining social connections and promotes positive parenting to protect against stressors and frustrations. This brief describes ways parents can increase their social connections lists resources for parents.
Tapping the Power of Social Networks: Understanding the Role of Social Networks in Strengthening Families and Transforming Communities (PDF - 367 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2006)
Compiles relevant definitions, key findings from the literature and their challenges, and Casey's point of view on the potential niche for strengthening positive social networks in the context of the Foundation's Making Connections initiative.