Mothers of Young Children with Special Health Care Needs: Maternal Well-being and Engagement in Work
Description of participants required
Data will be collected in the form of face-to-face interviews from a purposeful sample of mothers who care for young children with special health care needs. The mothers are required to be the primary carer of the child.
The child (biological or adopted) will be approximately 4/5 years old and will have a special health care need identified within a wide range of developmental or health conditions. These conditions are expected to have significant consequences for the child and the family. These conditions have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months and require above routine needs and use of services and/or prescription medicine. Ideally, mothers will be presently engaged in paid work outside the home, or have had employment experiences whilst caring for their young child.
The interviews (30 minutes duration) will be conducted at one time point. The interviews will gather information on family demographics, the mother’s general health and well-being, quality of relationships and social supports, and employment experiences.
Brief description of project (background, aims and methodology)
Specific research objectives are: (1) to examine the general health and well-being of mothers who have children with special health care needs; (2) to explore the quality of relationships and the social supports provided for these mothers; and (3) describe the employment and work experiences of mothers when they have significant care responsibilities for their young children.
Underpinning this approach, that is, examining the experiences of mothers, is the strong societal expectation for mothers to provide the essential care for children, especially when their child has a special health care need.
This project is important because little research has been conducted in Australia which evaluates the employment and personal experiences for mothers who care for children with special health care needs.These care responsibilities may have positive or negative consequences on the social, emotional and economic outcomes for these mothers and their families.
There is a need to evaluate the real and opportunity costs in caring for a child with special health care needs in the Australian context. It is an important policy concern to examine how these care responsibilities affect women's engagement in the workplace, and also their well-being and the quality of their social supports. This research will also provide important information that can influence the nature of supports given to families from service providers and schools.
Benefits to participants in participating in this project (e.g., will assessments conducted provide useful information on participants needs, strengths or challenges?)
There is no direct benefit to participants. However, the project is concerned with helping mothers of children who have special health care needs enjoy the same opportunities as other members of the community.In order to achieve this, it is important for policy makers, service providers and educators to gain an understanding of the impacts that children with special health care needs have on maternal functioning.
It is imperative that an appreciation is gained about how mothers structure their lives (socially, emotionally, physically and economically) around the needs of not only the child, but the family as well. In this way, policy, practice and future research may address important issues that improve the well-being and opportunities for mothers who provide care. In this way, these mothers and their families, and the wider community will benefit.
Dr Julie Dillon-Wallace. (M) 0407 69 88 14 (W) 3138 3176 Email: email@example.com