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Keywords:

  • families with children;
  • family work;
  • early support;
  • parenting;
  • home visiting;
  • family professionals

In Finland, support for families with children is given, as far as possible, as part of basic services. However, to support basic services, services of this kind have also been generated as the result of several projects. The public sector itself has been reorganized and reformed to more resemble a project. In this article, the experiences of parents with children receiving project-based support are studied qualitatively. Preventive support was offered via child health and maternity clinics in the form of home visiting. The reform of the municipal and service structure has made the development of preventive services an issue of even greater current relevance. The purpose of the study was to collect and explore the experiences of parents as reported in their own voices. The research question is, how did families experience this novel support model in practice? The data consist of interviews with six client families, including mothers and fathers, nine parents in all. A qualitative and narrative approach to the interview data was used. Analysis of the interviews yielded the following themes: being critical about the support given, building trust between parents and the professionals and empowering parents through support. According to the results, parents experienced receiving early support, and especially home visiting, as useful. The purpose of home visiting was not always clear to begin with, and consequently, some parents had reservations about them. Experiences of maternity and child health clinics varied. In addition to the health professionals' skills, their personality, familiarity and supportive and trustful way of working was felt to be most important. Parents felt that their parenting skills and relationships met with approval during the family work. Further research is needed on this kind of early support, especially support delivered at home, to develop these services.