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Abstract

In March 2020, a range of public health measures were introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland, including the closure of non-essential services and schools, and restricting the movements and social interactions of the majority of the population. The social and economic upheaval caused by these measures led to increased stress, strain and worry for parents, significantly heightening the risk for detrimental effects on well-being. Barnardos, Irelands leading children’s charity, responded quickly to the crisis by adapting its existing therapeutic services and creating a range of new services to support the needs of parents and families. This paper uses the lens of parental well-being to review the situation in Ireland experienced by vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the disruptions and the service response. We explore the research background to parental well-being and detail the specific challenges faced by parents as reported in organisational surveys during the pandemic and in feedback from our frontline services. We also outline the complexities for services in responding innovatively and urgently to evolving family needs, and demonstrate facilitators and barriers to engagement. The paper concludes with a summary of the current and anticipated future context for families, and some recommendations for key actions around promoting and sustaining parental well-being.

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