Supporting children of parents with mental health problems through professionally assisted lay support – the “godparents” program
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Children with parents with mental health problems have an increased risk of adverse developmental outcomes. Nonetheless, services for these children are still scarce in Switzerland. Therefore, an innovative program was developed, implemented, and evaluated in close practitioner-researcher cooperation. The program aims to support these children by providing lay supporters as so-called “godparents” to them. The program evaluation shows that the continuity of contacts between children and godparents builds the ground for a relationship that fosters the children’s development and relieves their parents. A carefully undertaken process of matching families with godparents appears to be crucial for a lasting godparenthood. However, a main challenge is the acquisition of godparents, who engage on a voluntary basis in the program.