Strengthening family support and development


Worldwide, 20% of children who enrol in primary education will not enrol in secondary education. In many countries, this figure is dramatically higher. For example in Uganda, 85% children who enrolled in primary

As societies grow and change, we need to ensure that struggling families receive the support they need to remain or become loving places where children are cared for holistically.

It is well-known that the best environment for a child to thrive physically, emotionally, spiritually and developmentally is within a safe and loving family. There is a growing body of opinion, supported by international standards that recognises that the best way to provide care for children is to support them in their families and if they lose parents or become separated, that they are reunited quickly with family members or provided with an alternative family environment.

Within today’s fragmented world, where family breakdown is common, the church has an opportunity to be promoting positive family values within its own constituency and supporting those families that are struggling, to stay together.

Our approach

In order to have a lasting and sustainable impact on the situation of children, Viva understands the importance of a strong and stable family environment, where families are able to meet the needs of their children and provide holistic care to support their children as they grow.

Negative conditions that contribute to family breakdown and weaken the structures vary across the different countries where Viva works. As such, programmes designed to strengthen families are very different with programme interventions being determined at the local level. Viva staff provide technical advice and disseminated learning from other networks who are doing similar work.

The networks working on family strengthening tend to focus on practical support for families (such as income-generation training, family saving schemes or family counsellors), or training and support for families to understand and implement holistic care (through education on nutrition, education, child protection etc.) – or a mixture of both.

Case studies

Uganda: Sustainable Income-Generation and community mentors

In Uganda, CRANE, our partner network, have a multi-pronged approach to family strengthening. Community mentors from vulnerable communities have been trained to support children and families in the areas where they live. These mentors spot children in need of support and as part of the programme and begin supporting the parents and family. They teach parents about the importance of education, nutritional needs and how to keep their children safe from abuse. Parents are being trained in business skills and equipped with knowledge and skills to start or improve on small businesses or other income-generating activities so that they have the means to earn a constant income and therefore the capacity to provide for their children.

Training could include:

  • Fuel saving technologies
  • Water harvesting
  • Mushroom growing
  • Soap making
  • Candle making

Each family is mentored through the process and in alternate months monitoring and support visits take place to encourage the businesses.

Peer savings groups have also been initiated within communities to increase sustainability. These groups receive training in topics such as group dynamics, conflict resolution and group records keeping. This support is helping families to financially support their children through education.

Global: Phone mentoring programme

As a response to the Covid pandemic, Viva developed a phone mentoring programme, which specifically targeted vulnerable families who were otherwise unreached during the pandemic.

One of the key objectives from the programme is to ensure families are strengthened to increase care and support for children.

During its first six months 8,000 families were impacted in 19 countries. The proportion of parents who could describe an activity they enjoyed doing with their children in the last 3 days increased from 82% to 87%. And 98% of parents could describe a positive strategy for dealing with feeling stressed or overwhelmed compared to 91% before the calls.

Over 100,000 ‘actions’ were completed by parents and children between calls. That’s an average of 13 actions per family across the 8 calls. Actions include doing schoolwork together, trying the game of the week, talking more and being creative together. These activities help build relationships within the family, and so reduces the risk of physical and mental hurt.

Other useful resources