Chairperson of the new Child and Family Agency to deliver keynote address at UNESCO Research Centre Conference

Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair at the Child and Family Research Centre in NUI Galway
Jun 04 2013 Posted: 10:24 IST

The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway will host its 6th Biennial Family Support conference on 13-14 June. Entitled ‘Engagement and Participation in Family Support’, the conference will contextualise trends, challenges and options relating to citizens’ engagement and participation in the field of Family Support. The forum will highlight the relevance of citizenship to Family Support and the role of services, communities and individuals in service delivery and systems reform.

Alongside presentations from keynote speakers including Norah Gibbons of the new Child and Family Agency, delegates will hear from special guest Kenneth Egan, Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer. Kenneth will speak on the commitment and dedication required to excel in sport and how the support he received from family, friends and others helped him to deal with the challenges and difficulties he encountered.

Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair at the Child and Family Research Centre in NUI Galway, commented: “This conference is an opportunity to explore not just the role of state services, but also of individuals and communities in supporting families both in terms of safety and welfare. The recent scandal regarding early years services including creche facilities highlights that social workers alone and regulation systems do not have the capacity to protect children at risk and that more innovative models of community care and involvement are urgently required. There is a need to develop systems whereby families and citizens can play their part in safeguarding children.”

The conference is hosted as part of the ‘Five Nations Family Support Initiative’ in conjunction with representatives from across the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and UNESCO, Paris. The aim of this new initiative is to collectively discuss and advance Family Support policy and practice issues which will be progressed and developed on an international stage.

Other speakers will include:

Professor Constance Flanagan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
The Political Theories of Adolescents: How they Matter for Democracy

Professor Anne Power, the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
Learning from the Horse’s Mouth: What Families Bringing up Children in Difficult Urban Areas Say about their Role and Influence

Andy Lloyd, Head of Service – Workforce Development, Children’s Services, Leeds City Council, UK.
Defending and Developing Family Support in an Age of Austerity

Dr Bernadine Brady and Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway.
Changing the Odds: the Benefits and Challenges of Volunteer-Led Service Provision

Professor Mark Brennan, Pennsylvania State University, USA.
Citizenship as a Mechanism for Individual, Family, and Community Support

Dr John Canavan, Associate Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway will deliver the closing remarks.

For further information, or to register for the conference, visit


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