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Articles thématiques

"Family policy": How do we define it?

Gilles Séraphin et Nathalie St-Amour
Traduction de Valentina Baslyk
Cet article est une traduction de :
Politique familiale : De quoi parle-t-on ? [fr]

Résumés

Cadre de la recherche : Cet article s’inscrit dans une réflexion plus large sur le devenir des politiques familiales notamment en ce qui concerne le destinataire de ces politiques, le changement de palier pour l’élaboration et la mise en œuvre de celles-ci et la délégitimisation des corps intermédiaires dans le cadre de ce processus.

Objectifs : L’objectif est de mieux cerner les contours des politiques familiales et d’exposer les éléments d’un référentiel qui pourrait permettre de tracer le périmètre de ce secteur de politique dans différents pays.

Méthodologie : Le propos de cet article s’appuie sur les contributions de ce numéro thématique, une revue de la littérature et l’expertise de recherche des auteurs.

Résultats : La réflexion présentée dans ce texte s’articule autour de la délimitation du périmètre des politiques familiales par l’analyse du bénéficiaire, du champ d’intervention, du (ou des) principe(s) fondateur(s) et des acteurs. Par la suite, en s’appuyant sur les cas français et québécois, les auteurs présentent, sous forme de questions, les critères qui pourraient permettre, dans un territoire donné, de définir ce qu’est la politique familiale.

Conclusions : Au niveau international et souvent au niveau national, un périmètre de « la » politique familiale apparaît encore diffus. De fait, il est impossible d’en donner une définition unique et partagée, adaptée à l’ensemble des pays où cette expression est utilisée. Malgré certains points communs, « la » politique familiale se laisse difficilement définir…

Contribution : Les auteurs confirment ainsi que les politiques familiales ne peuvent se comprendre sans une référence à la dynamique en cours dans l’ensemble de l’État social.

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Texte intégral

1For this thematic issue, researchers from various countries were invited to address the question: What is family policy today? Given the current realities in various regional contexts, the idea was to better define the nature and scope of public policy regarding the family. This proved to be an ambitious challenge.

2In our introduction, we will first discuss the articles published in this issue, centering more specifically on the given definition of "family policy." While this definition is not clearly set out in most of the articles, we will highlight elements of analysis that could help to develop parameters for this type of public policy. Second, we will propose a frame of reference that would assist in defining the scope of family policy in each country, as far as possible. Even if this initiative fails, developing a frame of reference will ultimately provide us with an opportunity to broaden the question: defining the nature and scope of family policy in individual countries sheds light on the principles that support the design and implementation of all public policies.

Family policy: how is the concept understood by the authors in this thematic issue?

3Few articles directly question the nature of this policy. Except for Michel Messu in France, Renée B. Dandurand in Quebec and Octave Keutiben in New Brunswick, the authors explore either one of the policy’s instruments, primarily child care (Conus and Knoll in Switzerland; Bigras and contributors in Quebec and France), its impact in terms of strengths and/or limitations (Mathieu and Tremblay; Seery), or its actors (Raymond Debord). Thus each in its own way, the articles in this issue contribute to outlining the parameters of family policy.

Delimiting the scope by beneficiary

4In "Le ' noyau dur ' de la politique familiale : l’enfant. Analyse du cas français" (The 'hard core' of family policy: the child. Analysis of the French case), Michel Messu provides an overview of France's family policy, its history, discourses, objectives, and the theoretical interpretations that arise from it. Messu seeks to establish that the historical and discursive variation of French family policy is built either explicitly or implicitly - around one invariant: the child. At the republican state level of post-revolutionary France, the child was considered to be the embodiment of the "Good of the Nation." Over the course of the 20th century, the family acted increasingly by delegation, while the State took its place in case of failure or need. This meant that meeting children’s needs within their families became not only the initial objective of family policies, but would also be their primary objective.

5This analysis partly dovetails with that of Renée B. Dandurand, who analyzes family policy in Quebec in her article "La politique québécoise. Les enfants au cœur de nos choix : Un pari audacieux néanmoins gagnant" (The Quebec policy Les enfants au cœur de nos choix : A bold but winning gamble). The author points out that after establishing an initial family policy in 1988 that was explicitly natalist, Quebec underwent a major shift in 1997 by enacting a set of new family policy provisions titled Les enfants au cœur de nos choix or "Children at the heart of our choices." In offering new family allowances, subsidized educational child care services and the promise of a better parental insurance plan, this policy had three main objectives: to promote child development and equal opportunity, to facilitate work/family balance, and to provide increased assistance to low-income families. This policy surprised many when it was introduced, as Quebec had a large budget deficit at the time and yet the government was transitioning from a populationist policy to one that was generously social-democratic.

6After placing the adoption of an explicit family policy in Quebec in its historical context, Dandurand outlines the demographic, political and economic conditions that preceded its implementation. This shift in family policy can be described as a bold gamble that had no equivalent elsewhere in North America. An a posteriori examination of its consequences makes it possible to argue that it was a success, and that it represents an essential step forward, particularly for the status of women. In her article, Dandurand provides the elements for defining the scope of Quebec's family policy by cross-referencing the beneficiary, the child, and the intervention, such as early childhood care, parental leave and family allowances.

Delimiting the scope by the field of intervention

7A study of the field of intervention, in particular that devoted to child care, was also explicitly carried out by various authors in order to delimit the scope of family policy.

8In an article titled "Politiques et usages autour de l’accueil extrafamilial institutionnel des jeunes enfants en Suisse : entre disparités et inégalités" (Policies and practices around institutional out-of-home care for young children in Switzerland: between disparities and inequalities) Xavier Conus and Alex Knoll focus specifically on out-of-home child care. They describe this policy as disparate and inegalitarian. In Switzerland, public policies encouraging out-of-home care for young children are based on two objectives: promoting work/family balance and reducing the educational inequalities faced by children. The purpose of the article is to analyze the situation of institutional out-of-home child care in Switzerland, particularly with regard to the stated goal of combatting inequalities. The results of the study show that government investment in out-of-home care for young children is modest. Compared to neighbouring countries, the time spent by young Swiss children in child care facilities is minimal, while the financial burden on families and their share of informal care are great. Switzerland also suffers from considerable internal disparities in terms of the availability of institutional care, the method of financing and the share of the costs borne by parents. In these circumstances, the authors conclude that the current policy of institutional out-of-home child care in Switzerland contributes more to maintaining a number of inequalities than to reducing them. Their perspective extends beyond the Swiss context: in their view, the introduction of an out-of-home child care policy that makes it possible to combat inequalities would require joint action on supply and cost systems, and would also need to consider the cultural dimension underlying the issue of institutional out-of-home child care.

9Octave Keutiben’s study "Les dispositifs et les enjeux de la politique familiale au Nouveau-Brunswick" (Family policy mechanisms and issues in New Brunswick) deals with the situation in New Brunswick, a province that is focusing its current efforts more broadly on early childhood care (in addition to parental leave and family allowances). His article examines family policy in New Brunswick by describing the New Brunswick Family Plan, highlighting the provisions related to family policy, and then analyzing their principles and implications for families. New Brunswick's family policy in particular targets low-income families in order to offset the economic cost of children, encourage paid work and facilitate work-family balance. The Plan is expected to have a significant impact, especially on low-income and single-parent families; however, it could be constrained by the low coverage rate of licensed child care. The key challenge for the province is to increase subsidies of licensed child care centres, and to consider creating a network of high-quality, universally accessible and affordable services for all families by 2030.

10Nathalie Bigras, Philippe Dessus, Lise Lemay, Caroline Bouchard and Christine Lequette also propose defining the scope of family policy within its fields of intervention, turning their attention specifically on child care. The authors consider that the care of 3-year-olds, including in kindergarten in France, falls within the scope of family policy. In their article entitled "Qualité de l'accueil d'enfants de 3 ans en centres de la petite enfance au Québec et en maternelles en France" (Quality of care for 3-year-olds in early childhood centres in Quebec and kindergartens in France), the authors compare structural quality levels and interactions of educational services for 3-year-olds in Quebec and France. Based on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Class), they identify the structural quality components that can explain the quality scores of the interactions of the two educational settings. Results of comparative analyses indicate that educators (child care centres or CPEs) have significantly higher interaction quality scores than teachers (French kindergarten) for the three domains and nine dimensions of the Class. Linear regression analyses show that when the age of the educators, group/class size, and educational levels are higher, interaction quality scores are lower. Thus, decreasing group/class size and ensuring that French teachers are better trained in early childhood management could increase the quality of interactions. Hiring educational staff with up-to-date knowledge about pedagogical approaches that promote quality interactions could also support the levels of interaction in both settings. This study sheds new light on the early childhood education systems in Quebec and France. In Quebec, it sparks reflection on the conditions for implementing early childhood services in both CPEs and kindergarten classes. In France, conditions associated with the quality of interactions are being reviewed, as attendance in kindergarten classes from the age of 3 has been mandatory since 2019.

Delimiting the scope by one (or more) founding principle(s)

11Other authors delimit this policy by the principles that constitute its foundation, above all universality or solidarity.

12In their article titled "Évolution et transformation de la politique familiale québécoise depuis 1997" (Evolution and transformation of Quebec family policy since 1997), Sophie Mathieu et Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay posit that the consensus established around the exceptionalism of Quebec's family policy obscures issues and challenges related to the accessibility and availability of support measures for families. The purpose of their research is to propose a rethinking of the universality often attributed to Quebec's family policy by documenting the evolving structure of the three main support measures in place for families since 1997: child care services, parental leave and monetary benefits. They argue that, despite its social-democratic leanings, Quebec's family policy as a whole is not universal and families are not all equal in the support they receive from the state. They outline the historical existence of four child care plans, whose characteristics vary based on the nature of the services offered, their costs and the possibility of accessing them. They also contend that because of the structure of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), some parents do not qualify for parental benefits. Lastly, they show that, although all families have been receiving cash benefits since 2005, the amount of those benefits varies with income. While Quebec offers a generous family policy, the province is not entirely immune to some of the questionable characteristics of liberal societies, of which Canada is one.

13Other authors focus more broadly on an issue that has emerged in recent years: balancing family and professional life. This challenge is often linked to gender and must be analyzed in light of a more general social question, as such a balance often depends on the level of the parents' income. In her article "Enjeux pour des parents québécois de milieu socioéconomique modeste" (Challenges for Quebec parents from modest socio-economic backgrounds), Annabelle Seery examines another characteristic of this policy: its links with the larger social aims of the fight against inequality. Quebec's family policy, which is very much directed at balancing family and work, is based mainly on two measures: the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) and the public child care network. Under normal circumstances these encourage parents, both women and men, to remain in the workforce. However, this policy is being applied at a time when the labour market is becoming more precarious, particularly for women and people with little education who are already marginalized in employment. Seery seeks to better understand the working arrangements between spouses from low socio-economic backgrounds by starting with their stories, and then highlighting the issues underpinning the work/family relationship of these parents. The stories of low-income heterosexual parents in Quebec who do not have a university degree reflect the difficulties of managing both family and work when parents have low-paying jobs with non-standard hours. The QPIP and the subsidized child care services offered in Quebec are therefore not very helpful to these parents. Types of jobs and the sexual division of labour play a significant role in the "choices" they make regarding the use of the measures available to them. Gender relations, particularly in an environment of financial insecurity, hinder the achievement of family policy goals with respect to the family-work balance, as long as mothers continue to be restricted in their access to employment. By shedding light on the difficulties of work/family balance for working parents from low socio-economic backgrounds, this article opens the way for a discussion on the needs of parents who are generally given little consideration when this type of public policy is established.

Delimiting the scope of family policy by the actors

14The scope of family policy can also be delimited by the actors who initiate, oversee, manage or evaluate it. In his article "L’Unaf face à la diversification des modèles familiaux" (Unaf and the diversification of family models), Raymond Debord examines a French organization, the National Union of Family Associations (Unaf). This body has the distinction of having been created by the French legislature to provide structure for the evolution of the family and to officially represent families before public authorities at all levels. The article analyzes the emergence of family ideology and its structure within a dedicated apparatus. It studies the way in which the diversification of family models has been taken into account by the legislature and incorporated by Unaf even if it did not always coincide with its convictions. Debord observes that Unaf and the associations that it comprises have adapted to this diversification, and that the French family ideology has shown great resilience. At each stage, despite the difficulties, the protagonists have been able to make compromises allowing them to incorporate changes while maintaining and developing the role of the family movement. The emergence of the "parenting" concept has provided an opportunity to develop new activities and services. For example, the friction caused by making marriage legal for same-sex couples has been reduced, with even some of the most conservative family associations undergoing a dramatic shift in approach.

Family policy: a proposed frame of reference to delimit the scope

15When it comes to analyzing family policy in a given situation, the references and parameters are diverse. So can we define what could be called a "family policy" in each of the regions observed?

  • 1 Translated by V. Baslyk. Original citation: « Les gouvernements et surtout l’institution qui défend (...)

16With regard to France, one of the authors of this introduction attempted to do this in 2013, noting: "Governments, and especially Unaf, the institution that represents families and defends their material and moral interests, have been calling for a much broader definition of family policy since the late 1960s. The purpose of family policy is not to have as many children as possible, but to ensure that families are able to have the number of children they want, at the time they choose, and that they receive support within the Republic in order to live in conditions deemed decent." (Séraphin, 2013 : 9)1 However, this definition does not appear to be very operational when it comes to making a comparison between regions. It seems necessary to approach the issue of family policy in another way, using a common framework of analysis, consisting of a set of questions.

17The first questions to be asked can be stated as follows: in a given region, is there an explicit reference to "family policy"? Is this expression in common use? Who is using it? Indeed, in some regions there is no obvious public policy area called "family policy," despite state measures that are aimed at families. We speak more broadly of social policy, for example, or of early childhood care (or child care).

18When this expression is used in other regions, it must be analyzed, but by whom: the legislature? politicians? researchers? the press?

19If the expression is used, these questions must be asked: how is family policy defined in a given region? By whom is it defined? According to what criteria? Then a second problem arises. Even in regions where the expression is widely used, it is rare to find this area of public policy clearly defined in a shared way (with recognized reference texts), or defined by the actors who use it most extensively.

20We thus propose to try to determine, in the form of questions, the criteria that could make it possible to define what family policy is in a given region. We will study the French and Quebec cases as examples of usage.

What is the official designation?

21In the region being studied, is the term "family policy" used in official texts, for example in the constitution, laws, regulatory texts, or in the title of a budget allocation?

22While in Quebec the term "family policy" does not appear in any official document, in France it is used in regulatory texts, particularly in decrees setting out the powers of ministers or secretaries of state. However, the term is never defined in the law or in the decrees.

What constitutes official recognition of the family in official texts?

23Beyond the concept of "family policy," is the family more broadly defined in official texts? Is it assigned a role as a distinct entity?

  • 2 Code de l’Action sociale et des Familles

24While in France the term "family" is often used in various codes (France has a Family and Social Action Code), the term is never defined, even in the Civil Code. The law recognizes and relies almost exclusively on two other concepts: union and filiation (with parental authority as a corollary). However, sometimes the family is recognized as such, for example when it comes to defining the voting rights of family associations (what some call "family suffrage") within unions of family associations (according to article L211-9 of the Family and Social Action Code)2.

25The situation is similar in Quebec, where the Act respecting the Ministère de la Famille, des Aînés et de la Condition feminine (Act Respecting the Minister of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women) (M-17.2) invites the Minister to consider the diversity of family models and to give priority attention to the needs of children.

Who are the institutional actors responsible for public policy, with the family explicitly mentioned in their jurisdiction? What are their competencies?

  • 3 Translation of ministre des Solidarités et de la Santé, chargé de l'Enfance et des Familles

26In France, the jurisdiction of Adrien Taquet, current Secretary of State to the Minister for Solidarity and Health responsible for Children and Families3, encompasses "all matters in the area of Children and Families, entrusted to him by the Minister for Solidarity and Health" (Decree No. 2020-1058 of 14 August 2020 relating to the powers of the Secretary of State to the Minister of Solidarity and Health responsible for Children and Families). The term "family policy" is not explicitly used, but its jurisdiction extends to the overall policy related to families. It includes ministerial departments, the support of joint financing agencies, mainly the Family Allowance Funds (with family allowance funds in each department), and a structure mandated by law to represent all families (see Raymond Debord’s article in this issue), the National Union of Family Associations and the departmental unions of family associations (Unaf and Udaf). Thus we may state that, in France, the first tangible element on which a definition could be based is the actors officially responsible for the family.

27In Quebec, government action affecting families and children is coordinated by the Minister of Families, whose mandate under the Act Respecting the Minister of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women (M-17.2) is "to provide families and children with the means to achieve their potential. " The Act states that in his interventions the Minister must take into account the diversity of family models and focus primarily on the needs of children. The Minister of Families is supported in his duties by three assistant deputy ministers, one of whom has Families and Childhood policy responsibilities, and another who ensures support for quality early child care and education. Consistent with the representation system in place in Quebec (although it varies depending on the government in power), the Ministry relies on a vast network of government and para-governmental partners, including Retraite Québec, which manages family allowance, the Conseil de gestion de l’assurance parentale (Parental Insurance Management Board), a trustee of the autonomous fund permitting the self-financing of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), and various government departments and agencies whose actions affect families (Gouvernement du Québec, 2020).

28It seems important here to mention that, in 2010, in a broad movement to "re-engineer" the Quebec state and despite the opposition of many involved in the family movement and the academic world, the government of the day abolished the Conseil de la famille et de l'enfance (Council on Family and Children). The functions of this Council, as set out by Bill C-56.2, consisted of advising the Minister of Families on any matter pertaining to child and family welfare, and of filing an annual report on the situation and needs of families and children in Quebec with the Minister.

Which other non-institutional actors explicitly mention the family in their field of intervention?

29Other actors are indirectly responsible for carrying out family policy. Often, they have no official position (other than authorizations), but they receive subsidies, or even permanent financing, to put parts of this policy into practice. The budget allocations of public organizations or institutions involved in these cases are extremely compelling subjects for study.

30In France, for example, non-profit associations are responsible for providing services or carrying out interventions for families (e.g. family mediation), and are often specifically directed at children as family members (e.g. early childhood care). Thus, entire sections of family policy (such as disability, dependency, social policies) are implemented by the non-profit sector, employing a large number of people, to the extent that such associations are often the main employers in certain regions.

  • 4 The Fondation André et Lucie Chagnon is the largest family foundation in Canada. It began in the ea (...)
  • 5 Created 2005, the Fondation du Dr Julien aims to support and continue the practice of social pediat (...)

31In Quebec, the application of family support measures involves a vast network of community and private partners. The work of community-based family organizations (OCFs) and of all the actors in the educational child care services network is particularly noteworthy. Between 2000 and 2010, the Quebec government initiated an entirely new practice by partnering with a private foundation to fund and implement programs to support early childhood development. Although the partnership recently ended, the Fondation Chagnon4 continues its work, as does the Fondation du Dr. Julien,5 which developed the social pediatric model. Some Quebec municipalities have adopted a municipal family policy for which they have received support from the provincial government (municipal family policy support program).

Who are the beneficiaries?

32Studying the explicitly designated beneficiaries is another way of defining the scope of family policy. In France, this involves either the family entity or the child as a family member (e.g. family allowances). For example, early childhood care is accepted as an important part of family policy. On the other hand the enrolment of children in kindergarten, even from the age of two, is part of the national education policy. Moreover, the Minister of Families does not have a say in this policy, as it is the exclusive responsibility of the Minister of National Education. The article comparing France and Quebec by Nathalie Bigras, Philippe Dessus, Lise Lemay, Caroline Bouchard and Christine Lequette was included in this issue through the "Quebec" gateway, since it deals with three-year-olds in kindergarten and would not have been considered an article on family policy in a French context, unless the topic was family-school relations. In his article, however, Michel Messu concludes that in France the family entity is becoming decreasingly the beneficiary of family policy: it is the child who today lies at the heart of this policy.

33In Quebec, the beneficiary may vary within the same policy depending on the objective pursued. When it comes to child care services, we can consider that the child is the primary focus since the goal of his or her education is equal opportunity. Mothers have taken advantage of these services to make significant inroads into the labour market; employers dealing with labour shortages are therefore also benefiting. In the case of parental and especially paternal leave, the father has the opportunity to develop a relationship with his child from an early age, which also contributes to a better division of labour between the spouses. This at least is what is expected.

What is the field of intervention?

34The question of beneficiaries raises the question of fields of intervention. When we talk about "family policy," which interventions are included? For this, it is useful to refer to the intervention fields handled by the official actors. In France, the area is rather narrow when one observes the policies financed by the Caf, but it widens when one studies the ministerial jurisdictions. This is especially true when the jurisdictions cover a legal area, in particular any legislative or regulatory decision concerning the Family and Social Action Code, as the Civil Code is the "reserved" domain of the keeper of the seals, the Minister of Justice. Finally, the area becomes very broad when one includes the intervention fields of Unaf.

35In Quebec, on the other hand, the field of intervention is more circumscribed. "Too much so," some say. Although other measures are intended to benefit families and children, such as those targeting aid to implement the family project or others related to studies and working parents, (Gouvernement du Québec, 2016a; 2016b) the triptych of child care, parental leave and family allowance is what truly constitutes Quebec family policy.

A family policy within what framework of political and administrative organization?

36When considering public policy, it is necessary to first identify its jurisdiction of application. It is the political and administrative organizational framework that determines the actors, the subject and the instruments of this policy.

37In France, family policy is predominantly the jurisdiction of the State. The joint funding bodies have gradually been losing their autonomy, so much so that today, the Caf budget is defined by an annual Social Security finance law, like that of any social security entity. It is true that the departments have jurisdictions that would fall within the scope of family policy (e.g. maternal child protection, child welfare, support for parenting). However, these policies are carried out within a legal and regulatory framework set at the national level.

38Quebec is an exception in the Canadian constitution. While in the rest of Canada parental leave is administered centrally through the Employment Insurance program, since January 2006, the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan has been administered at the provincial level after admittedly tough negotiations with the federal government (Giroux, 2008). The province is also responsible for its family allowance program.

What are the founding or pivotal principles?

39Family policy is sometimes defined as the implementation of founding or pivotal principles within the state. In France, for example, it involves universality, solidarity, equality, sometimes even natalism, and increasingly work/family balance, gender equality, etc. However, it should be noted that none of these principles are specific to family policy! Even universality is one of the founding principles of a larger institution, Social Security, established in 1945, with its "branches," "family," "old age" and above all "health." We could make an exception for the principle of natalism, but it is claimed less and less by the actors. These principles therefore serve to characterize family policy, but none are sufficient to distinguish it as an autonomous field of public policy.

40In the same vein, after having touted a natalist vision, Quebec's family policy today seeks to promote equal opportunity and gender equality. However, as Mathieu and Tremblay and Seery point out in this issue, despite its "generosity," this policy is less universal than it seems.

41It will therefore be possible to define what is meant by "family policy" by answering this series of questions proposed as a frame of reference in each region being studied. The cases of Quebec and France have been given merely as examples, since this frame of reference is intended to be used in other situations and in other regions. Answering all of the questions is the sole condition by which meaningful comparisons can be made.

Attempting to define the nature and scope of family policy provides a global perspective on the design and implementation of public policies in a given region

42An overall analysis of the articles in this issue leads to the conclusion that the scope of family policy still appears vague. In fact, it is impossible to give a single, shared definition of the term, adapted to all the countries in which it is used. Despite certain common points, "family policy" remains difficult to define.

43The exercise is not fruitless, however, since it reveals general outlines in the design and implementation of distinct public policies in each of the regions, or even common to all the regions as a whole.

The family as an unidentified object

44Beyond the discourses in which it is often cited and even glorified, the family entity seems to be decreasingly or not at all appreciated as a beneficiary of public policy. In many countries, this policy is not even defined. Beneficiaries are either tax households, recipient households or types of household (groups of people living in the same dwelling), or individuals identified according to specific statuses (age, income level, living conditions, etc.). The "family" is becoming less and less the subject of public policy. Family policy is being supplemented via educational policies (child care services, support for parenthood, etc.), social policies (combating poverty, etc.), policies to combat gender inequalities (early childhood care, balancing family and professional life, etc.), to such an extent that in many regions one may ask: Do we need a family policy? If so, what should its role be?

Changes in decision-making and implementation levels…

45In most countries, the design and implementation of family policy or aspects of it, as with all public policies, seem to be shifting levels, with a transfer of governance, responsibilities, funding, and practice to local structures and communities. This shift can encompass both political governance, particularly in traditionally highly centralized states (with decentralization and subsidiarity of decision-making solely by political assemblies) and practical application, with the main actors (and those that are becoming more important) increasingly being communities, associations, families and citizens. In many forms of support, the public authorities no longer act directly, but only assist the above-mentioned actors, relying on the solidarity of family, and close relatives, as well as charities and/or community, as these beneficiary actors are considered to be better placed to know and understand the needs and responses required. The central public authority (at the provincial or state level) provides the legal framework and retains at best a role of control, sometimes of evaluation, pooling or equalizing resources as necessary to ensure equity.

The delegitimization of intermediate bodies

46This change in decision-making levels seems to be accompanied in some regions by a declared willingness to implement public policies through a direct link between each citizen-beneficiary and the political authorities. Intermediary bodies, such as unions, citizens' assemblies, orders, and public utility associations/communities are often attacked as monoliths that limit needed changes. They appear to be less and less consulted and associated with governance. These established collectives are associated with, or even called upon to participate in establishing a setting for public policy as service providers, but are no longer institutions that take an active part in its creation, governance and evaluation.

47In conclusion, family policy has changed dramatically through its evolution in certain jurisdictions. This in-depth transformation raises fundamental questions: can we still talk about family policy? Does it remain a topical subject, difficult to identify, or has it become a historical object?

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Bibliographie

Giroux, M.-È. 2008. « La lutte pour un régime québécois d’assurance parentale », Cahiers du Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales (CRISES), Collection Mouvements sociaux, no MS0803, https://crises.uqam.ca/upload/files/publications/ mouvements-sociaux/CRISES_MS0803.pdf

Gouvernement du Québec. 2020. Rapport annuel 2019-2020 du Ministère de la Famille. https://cdn-contenu.quebec.ca/cdn-contenu/adm/min/famille/publications-adm/rapport-annuel-de-gestion/MFA_rag_2019-2020.PDF?1601472547

Gouvernement du Québec. 2016a. Principales mesures de soutien destinées aux familles et aux enfants annexe au bilan 2010-2015 des réalisations en faveur des familles et aux enfants. https://www.mfa.gouv.qc.ca/fr/publication/Documents/Annexe-Bilan-2010-2015-familles.pdf

Gouvernement du Québec. 2016b. Bilan 2010-2015 des réalisations en faveur des familles et aux enfants. https://www.mfa.gouv.qc.ca/fr/publication/Documents/Bilan-2010-2015-familles.pdf

Loi sur le ministère de la Famille, des Ainés et de la Condition féminine, chapitre M-17.2, à jour le 1er septembre 2020, [Québec], Éditeur officiel du Québec, 2020.

Séraphin, G. 2013. Comprendre la politique familiale, Paris, Dunod, coll. Enfance / Gazette Santé social.

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Notes

1 Translated by V. Baslyk. Original citation: « Les gouvernements et surtout l’institution qui défend les intérêts matériels et moraux des familles et les représente, l’Unaf, revendiquent depuis la fin des années 1960 une définition de la politique familiale beaucoup plus ample. L’objectif de la politique familiale n’est pas d’avoir le plus d’enfants possibles, mais que les familles aient le nombre d’enfants qu’elles désirent, au moment où elles le choisissent, et qu’elles bénéficient au sein de la République d’un soutien afin de vivre dans des conditions jugées décentes. »

2 Code de l’Action sociale et des Familles

3 Translation of ministre des Solidarités et de la Santé, chargé de l'Enfance et des Familles

4 The Fondation André et Lucie Chagnon is the largest family foundation in Canada. It began in the early 2000s and its overall mission is to prevent poverty. Its arrival in the Quebec landscape was marked by the partnership established between the FLAC and the Government of Quebec. For more information, see: Ducharme, É. & Lesemann, F. (2016). Les fondations et la « nouvelle philanthropie » : un changement de paradigmes scientifiques et politiques. Lien social et Politiques, (75), 140–161. https://doi.org/10.7202/1036300ar

5 Created 2005, the Fondation du Dr Julien aims to support and continue the practice of social pediatrics developed by Dr Julien. https://fondationdrjulien.org/fondation/a-propos-de-la-fondation/

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Référence électronique

Gilles Séraphin et Nathalie St-Amour, « "Family policy": How do we define it? »Enfances Familles Générations [En ligne], 35 | 2020, mis en ligne le 20 août 2020, consulté le 10 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/efg/10749

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Auteurs

Gilles Séraphin

Université de Paris Nanterre (France), gseraphin@parisnanterre.fr

Nathalie St-Amour

Université du Québec en Outaouais (Canada), Nathalie.St-Amour@uqo.ca

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