Family Outcomes

Family Health

Families experience optimal individual physical and mental health, and contribute to the growth and development of each family member.

Health at the family level

The health of each family member impacts, and is impacted by, the health of other family members. For this reason, the outcome for family health has two inter-related goals – optimal health for each individual, and a healthy family dynamic that supports individual health. While these two goals are each important individually, our emphasis is on the relationship between them – how the family dynamic impacts the health of each family member and vice versa.

Optimal individual health

Much like the child outcomes, we emphasize each individual’s optimal health, and the resources and abilities they have at their disposal to achieve it. Unlike the child outcomes, however, this family outcome includes all aspects of health and development together – physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual.

Healthy family dynamic

The relationship between family members is an important aspect of family health. In a positive sense, each family member can support one-another in making healthy choices and engaging in healthy behaviours. In a negative sense, a strained family dynamic can become a source of poor health. For example, increased fighting or negative communication can contribute to higher levels of stress and therefore impact the health of individual family members [1].

Resilience & Support

Families are able to cope with challenges, and have consistent support through social networks and appropriate services.

Chronic stress and resilience

Major hardships or transitions in life can lead to chronic stress, which can have long-term impacts on well-being at both the physical and psychological level [1]. Such challenges arise from situations that are often beyond one’s control, such as coping with conditions of low income, poor quality housing, food insecurity, inadequate working conditions, insecure employment, and various forms of discrimination.

Resilience refers to one’s ability to bounce back from hardships: to cope in a healthy way that minimizes negative impacts [2]. While not all factors that contribute to family resilience are known, we do know that support is an important protective factor [3] [4].

Families get support from different sources

Some families rely more on support from extended family or friends, and some families may reach out to community or public services for support. As income can provide a buffer against risk factors that can lead to chronic stress, often extra support resources must be targeted to low-income families and those at highest risk [5] [6]. Families must be able to rely on support mechanisms – inconsistent support could exacerbate the problem. Furthermore, the services that families rely on must be appropriate for their needs, as they should be culturally and age appropriate, and available at the time needed.

Lifelong Learning

Families have equitable access to learning and training, and are active in their children’s education.

There are many types of learning

Learning can happen through formal education, such as certificate or degree programs from recognized institutions or through non-formal learning such as workshops, conferences, community courses, or recreation programs. It can also occur informally, through self-directed or tacit learning (for example, socialization or on-the-job learning).

The importance of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning can improve one’s socio-economic circumstances, such as improving one’s level of education, or supporting a career move [1]. Participation in lifelong learning can also be important for an individual’s personal development – to give someone a sense of control over their life, and a sense of purpose and accomplishment [2]. For many, lifelong learning should be seen as a public good which contributes to effective and informed participation in social and political life [3].

Participation in their children’s education

Every family member will place their own value on learning, and may value certain forms of learning over others. That said, family members can play an important role in supporting each other’s individual learning goals. For example, research shows that children do better in school when parents or caregivers are involved in their education and learning [4] [5]. Parental involvement can include many things, such as: reading to their children, helping with homework, or volunteering with school committees and activities.

Financial Security

Families have material well-being and an equitable standard of living.

Low-income impacts well-being

Income is one of the strongest predictors of well-being [1] [2] [3]. Level of income shapes overall living conditions, including health-related behaviours such as quality of diet, physical activity, and substance use, as well as other factors such as: food security, housing, and other basic prerequisites of well-being [4].

Financial security is an important outcome

The antidote to low-income is financial security [5]. Financial security refers to “an assured and stable standard of living that provides individuals and families with a level of resources and benefits necessary to participate economically, politically, socially, culturally, and with dignity in their community’s activities” [6]. Financial security is an important outcome in itself because it supports and affects all other aspects of well-being.

Two aspects of financial security

This outcome attempts to capture both aspects of financial security – the material aspect and the relative aspect. "Material well-being" focuses on material needs that all people require to sustain a decent standard of living, such as food, clothes, shelter and transportation. An "equitable standard of living” focuses on the relative aspect of financial security, and the impact that inequality has on the well-being of individuals and society as a whole [7] [8].

Community & Culture

Families belong to communities, and have the freedom to express, and opportunities to foster, their culture and identity.

Community belonging contributes to well-being

Strong communities are built on strong social bonds, which help create social stability and cohesion, and contribute to individual well-being [1]. Community belonging can provide protection against social isolation (a pervasive lack of social interaction), social exclusion (being denied the opportunity to participate in social life), and can contribute to resilience [2].

Defining community can be difficult

The term "community" holds different meanings for different people. Community can refer to: a neighbourhood; a cultural, religious or other identity group; or an extended social network of family and friends. Each family and child will identify to a greater or lesser extent with each form of community, which may change over the course of their lives.

Fostering culture and identity

Some communities, especially cultural minority groups, may face marginalization, stigmatization, and loss or devaluation of language and culture. For those communities, the ability to practice, express, foster and develop their cultural traditions and language is an important aspect of their well-being, and the opportunities to do so must be available and accessible to children and families, including through services and programs.


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