Lifeworld-Oriented Family Support

  • Špela Razpotnik
  • Nada Turnšek
  • Jana Rapuš Pavel
  • Olga Poljšak Škraban
Keywords: vulnerable families, social pedagogy, lifeworld orientation, family conference, voluntary work, flexible family care


Since the spring of 2014, the authors of this article, joined by a wider group of students, have been dedicated to researching vulnerable families and their involvement with education systems. In the initial phase, we explored the experiences and challenges that these families face and how they understand and address these challenges. Next, we were interested in the forms of support that these families receive, how the network of educational and social welfare services responds to their needs, and the quality of their cooperation.
We found that both the families and the expert services experience dissatisfaction when it comes to their cooperation: families often feel that they are being sent from one door to another with their problems, which remain unaddressed, while expert services feel that they cannot cope with the problems of vulnerable families, problems that they view as insoluble.
Our pivotal finding is therefore that it is vital to develop more flexible and consistent forms of support that respond to the concerns and challenges of the daily lives of vulnerable families (Razpotnik et al. 2015). In the action research reported on in the present article, we have focused on investigating the development of a newly emerging flexible and comprehensive
form of family support that was co-initiated by ourselves (the researchers)  and primarily implemented by volunteers and NGO workers. The main characteristics of this support are flexibility, presence in the daily lives of the family, building a cooperative relationship, and prioritising the dynamics and needs of the family rather than the formal demands of organisations and institutions.
The article delineates the emerging approach of lifeworld-oriented support, which is implemented and reported on first and foremost by the volunteers involved. Lifeworld-oriented support is a supplementary addition to conventional forms of family support, represented and reported on predominantly by representatives of educational and social welfare organisations.


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