Early childhood interventions in disadvantaged communities

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The impact of 'learning at home' on the educational outcomes of vulnerable children in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic: a summary literature review

Drane C, Vernon L and O'Shea S
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Australia have moved to online 'learning from home' arrangements. This is one of five reports commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment to investigate the possible impacts of this for vulnerable students. This report provides a high-level summary of the major factors impacting upon educationally at-risk students in Australia and the learnings from overseas on how they can be addressed. Topics include long-term educational disengagement, digital exclusion and technology skills, and emotional wellbeing and anxiety.

Learning at home during COVID-19: effects on vulnerable young Australians : independent rapid response report

Brown N, Te Riele K, Shelley B and Woodroffe J
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Australia have moved to online 'learning from home' arrangements. This is one of five reports commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment to investigate the possible impacts of this for vulnerable students. This report presents insights from key informants from schools, education departments, and agencies and advocacy bodies for children, education, and social support. Participants were asked about: at risk home environments; useful support to overcome those concerns; the nature, quality, and quantity of home learning undertaken; feedback from parents; the key things that children are missing out on by not going to school and attempts to fill those gaps; the key supports needed for staff and students when schools re-open; and innovations to support student learning that should be retained. Particular issues raised include child protection and respite, provision of basic needs, quality learning at young ages, loss of learning, VET students, students on track for university, the loss of broader school elements, opening schools for on-site learning, targeting at risk students and possible stigma, and effective online learning for a range of student abilities. The findings suggest that 46% of the student population are vulnerable to adverse effects on their educational outcomes, nutrition, physical movement, social, and emotional wellbeing by being physically disconnected from school.

Ministerial briefing paper on evidence of the likely impact on educational outcomes of vulnerable children learning at home during COVID-19

Australian Council for Educational Research, Australia. Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Australia have moved to online 'learning from home' arrangements. This is one of five reports commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment to investigate the possible impacts of this for vulnerable students. This report profiles disadvantaged students in Australia and looks into the merits of a range of home learning models. Section 1 presents data on students from four large-scale, representative assessment programs - the Australian National Assessment Program ICT Literacy and three international research programs. Section 2 discusses themes emerging from the literature pertaining to equity and access in Australia; the preparedness and skills of teachers and students to teach and learn using technology; student engagement; and the role of parents. Section 3 presents different models of home learning. Section 4 summarises evidence-based actions which will support learning, particularly for vulnerable children in the short and medium term, and which will contribute to a flexible, resilient, and responsive education system in the event of any future interruptions in schooling. The findings highlight the challenges faced by vulnerable children and their parents in these times.

Closing the gap report 2020

Australia
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2020.
The Closing the Gap framework is a national approach to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has developed seven targets aimed at significantly reducing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, in the areas of child mortality, early childhood education, school attendance, literacy and numeracy, Year 12 attainment, employment, and life expectancy. This annual report series outlines progress made towards each target since 2008 and the Federal Government's priorities for the year ahead. This 2020 report shows that improvements have been made in key areas, but that there are also areas of concern that require more progress: in particular, the Indigenous child mortality rate is twice that of non-Indigenous children. This report also highlights the establishment of a new Partnership Agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories, the Australian Local Government Association, and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations to work together in genuine partnership to develop the new Closing the Gap framework.

Investing in the wellbeing of Tasmania's children and young people

Tasmania. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Hobart : Commissioner for Children and Young People Tasmania, 2020.
In this paper, the Commissioner for Children and Young People calls for a new way forward in the way we think about and approach improving the wellbeing of children and young people in Tasmania. The paper outlines why the wellbeing of children and young people matter and looks at progress in improving wellbeing outcomes, then makes recommendations for a new way forward for Tasmania. It proposes that wellbeing be brought to the centre of government policy and decision making through the establishment of a whole-of-government strategy and highlights critical opportunities for strategic investment. These include earlier intervention and reducing service fragmentation. Despite significant focus and investment over several decades, the paper argues that there remain long-standing factors, often influenced by intergenerational poverty and trauma, poor health and low educational outcomes and now climate change, which affect children's wellbeing now and will continue to do so unless improvement is prioritised and acted upon.

Improving child immunisation rates in a disadvantaged community in New South Wales, Australia : a process evaluation for research translation.

Thomas S, Higgins H, Leask J, Menning L, Habersaat K, Massey P, Taylor K, Cashman P and Durrheim D
Australian Journal of Primary Health v. 25 no. 4 2019: 310-316
This article investigates why a strategy to increase child vaccination rates in a disadvantaged community in New South Wales has not been fully implemented. The strategy involved reminders, outreach and home visiting and was based on the World Health Organization's Tailoring Immunization Programmes approach. A process evaluation was conducted to identify the barriers and facilitators for implementation, drawing on focus groups with 24 health managers and staff including child health nurses and general practitioners. The findings highlight that though there was a strong motivation for change, service capability and resourcing needed to be enhanced.

The long view: designing a proactive service system to prevent intergenerational disadvantage

Chicote K
Acton, A.C.T. : The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, 2019
This report looks into how the service system can be designed to identify vulnerable children early and prevent the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. Supported by a Winston Churchill Fellowship, the author visited agencies in New Zealand and the United States to investigate effective cross-sector collaborations and their lessons for Western Australia. Though there is a growing evidence base on intergenerational disadvantage, more work is needed to translate this into systemic policy and practice. Topics in this report include adverse childhood experiences and early childhood brain development, long term biological impacts and intergenerational transmission, proactive identification, screening parents and children, and two-generation approaches to targeted early intervention. The report argues that breaking the cycle of disadvantage in Western Australia requires systems to be recalibrated to the long-term issue - that is, moving from managing the problem to proactively taking a generational view of well-being, starting at conception. This involves better use of integrated data, ensuring systems are responsive to need, and prioritising collaboration across the system.

A roadmap to reducing child povertys

Duncan G and Le Menestrel S
Washington, DC : National Academies Press, 2019.
"The strengths and abilities children develop from infancy through adolescence are crucial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth, which in turn help them to achieve success in school and to become responsible, economically self-sufficient, and healthy adults. Capable, responsible, and healthy adults are clearly the foundation of a well-functioning and prosperous society, yet America's future is not as secure as it could be because millions of American children live in families with incomes below the poverty line. A wealth of evidence suggests that a lack of adequate economic resources for families with children compromises these children's ability to grow and achieve adult success, hurting them and the broader society. [This report] reviews the research on linkages between child poverty and child well-being, and analyzes the poverty-reducing effects of major assistance programs directed at children and families. This report also provides policy and program recommendations for reducing the number of children living in poverty in the United States by half within 10 years."--Publisher's description.

Impacts on family outcomes of evidence-based early childhood home visiting: results from the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation

Michalopoulos C
Washington, DC : Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, US Administration for Children and Families, 2019.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program was launched in America in 2010 to expand evidence-based home visiting programs for families living in at-risk communities. The Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE) is investigating the impact of the program on families, focusing on the four evidence-based models that the majority of states chose to implement in 2010/2011. These models are: Early Head Start: Home-based option, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. Under MIHOPE, about 4,200 families were assigned to receive either one of these models or information on community services. This report presents the early effects on family and child outcomes, from 2012 through 2017, and considers differences by family type, features of local programs, or dosage received. The evaluation found some positive but small impacts, but it may be too early to assess impacts on child development.

Family Foundations outcome evaluation

Trew S, Stewart J, Thorpe R, Tewson A and Higgins D
Watson, A.C.T. : Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, 2019.
'Family Foundations' is an early intervention therapeutic parenting program in the Australian Capital Territory. It was developed in 2016 by Belconnen Community Services and targets families with young children who are dealing with complex parenting needs and difficulties but who are not in crisis or involved with child protection services. This report assesses the impact of the program, and follows on from a process evaluation of the program published in 2018. This report evaluates the extent to which Family Foundations achieved its intended outcomes of improving parents' self-confidence, emotional regulation, help seeking, and parenting knowledge and skills, as well as improvements in children's emotional regulation and behaviour. It also investigated unintended consequences and whether the program attracted its target audience. The report describes the program and the evaluation methodology and discusses the quantitative and qualitative findings. The evaluation found that the program enhanced parenting capacity and the quality of the parent-child attachment and contributed to improved outcomes for children, with parents with the greatest need seeing the greatest benefits.

Family Foundations - an early intervention parenting support program

Trew S
Watson, A.C.T. : Institute of Child Protection Studies, 2019.
This paper highlights the findings and practice learnings from an evaluation of the 'Family Foundations' early intervention parenting support program. This program was developed in 2016 by Belconnen Community Services in the Australian Capital Territory and targets families with young children who are dealing with complex parenting needs and difficulties but who are not in crisis. This paper describes the families in the study, the evaluation methodology, and impacts on parenting efficacy and knowledge and child outcomes, and concludes with practice tips for practitioners and further resources.

Three variations on the Australian supported playgroup model.

Wright A, Warren J, Burriel K and Sinnott L
International Journal of Social Welfare v. 28 no. 3 Jul 2019: 333-344
This article describes the underlying framework of the Families New South Wales supported playgroup model and explains how it has been successfully adapted for use with three different populations: mothers living with mental illness, children with disabilities, and families in economically disadvantaged areas. The supported playgroup model provides both prevention work and a 'soft' entry point for community services, while also offering parent peer support and opportunities for children to play.

Changing the life trajectories of Australia's most vulnerable children. Report no. 4, 24 months in the Early Years Education Program - assessment of the impact on children and their primary caregivers

Tseng Y, Jordan B, Borland J, Coombs N, Cotter K, Guillou M, Hill A, Kennedy A and Jane Sheehan
Parkville, Vic. : University of Melbourne, 2019.
The Early Years Education Program is an early years care and education program in Victoria targeting children who are exposed to significant family stress, abuse, or social disadvantage. The program aims to address the consequences of family stress on children's development and ensure that at-risk and vulnerable children arrive at school developmentally equal to their peers and equipped to be successful learners. This is the fourth report from an evaluation of the program, and looks at the impacts on children and their carers after the first 2 years of enrolment. A total of 145 infants and toddlers were recruited to the EYEP trial, from 99 families engaged with family services or child protection services. Outcomes include IQ, language skills, protective factors related to resilience, social-emotional development, carer psychological distress, and the home environment. This fourth report found that the program had a significant positive impact on IQ, protective factors related to resilience, and social-emotional development. However, these varied by gender: for example, resilience was significantly improved for boys but not at all for girls.

Changing the life trajectories of Australia's most vulnerable children. Report no. 3, The Early Years Education Program (EYEP) model

Jordan B and Kennedy A
Parkville, Vic. : University of Melbourne, 2019.
The Early Years Education Program is an early years care and education program developed by the Children's Protection Society. The program targets children who are exposed to significant family stress, abuse, or social disadvantage, and aims to address the consequences of family stress on children's development and ensure that at-risk and vulnerable children arrive at school developmentally equal to their peers and equipped to be successful learners. This report describes the conceptual frameworks underpinning the model and its key components. It discusses the background of the program, early years education pedagogy, attachment theory, parent engagement and participation, wrap around services, and structures and processes to support and scaffold the work of EYEP educators. The Victorian Department of Human Services 2007 list of risk factors to healthy child development are included as an appendix.

The health effects of Sure Start

Cattan S
London : Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2019.
Sure Start is one of the biggest programs for disadvantaged preschool children in the United Kingdom, and provides integrated services with the aim of improving school readiness, health, and social and emotional development. This report reviews the program's impact on selected health outcomes, from the program's inception in 1999 to its peak in the late 2000s. It uses big data to compare the location and opening date of all Sure Start centres, area levels of disadvantage, and hospitalisation rates, childhood obesity, and mothers' mental health for children up to the age of 11. Cost-effectiveness is also considered. It finds that Sure Start reduced the likelihood of hospitalisation among children of primary school age, in particular reducing infection-related illnesses in younger children and injury-related hospitalisations at older ages, and in disadvantaged areas rather than more affluent neighbourhoods. However, no evidence was found that Sure Start improved child obesity or maternal mental health. The findings have implications for how Sure Start is implemented and developed.

Evaluation of the Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service Program: final report

Zmudzki F, Breckenridge J, Newton B, Delaney M and Valentine K
Sydney, NSW : Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, 2019.
This report presents the findings and recommendations of an evaluation of the Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service program (IDFVS) in New South Wales. The program provides a multi-agency, integrated and coordinated response to domestic and family violence among high-risk target groups and in targeted communities. Following identification of domestic violence by such agencies as child protection or the police, the IDFVS program then intervenes to provide ongoing practical and emotional support to adult and child victims, whether they leave or remain living with the perpetrator, and, in some sites, interventions to perpetrators. In particular, the program aims to target Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and socio-economic disadvantaged people. The State Government commissioned this evaluation to assess the value and critical elements for success of the integrated approach, explore client needs and outcomes, identify gaps in service provision and integration, evaluate cost-effectiveness, and make recommendations on ongoing implementation and program improvement. The evaluation draws on administrative data from 2015-16 and 2016-17 as well as interviews and focus groups.

Closing the gap report 2019

Australia. Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2019.
The Closing the Gap framework is a national approach to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has developed six targets aimed at significantly reducing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, in the areas of life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment. The framework is underpinned by seven Building Blocks that support these targets: early childhood; schooling; health; healthy homes; safe communities; economic participation; and governance and leadership. This annual report series outlines progress made towards each target since 2008 and the Federal Government's priorities for the year ahead. This 2019 report highlights achievements and lessons learned over this period. Two targets, early childhood education and Year 12 attainment, are on track to be met, but child mortality rates, life expectancy, school attendance, literacy and numeracy, and unemployment have not been sufficiently improved. Note, this 2019 report will be the final report using the 2008 framework, as next year will see the transition to a new system.

Implementation of evidence-based early childhood home visiting: results from the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation

Duggan A
Washington, DC : Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, US Administration for Children and Families, 2018.
"This implementation research report [from America] describes the local programs, home visiting staff, and families who participated in the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE), a national evaluation of the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program launched in 2011. This national evaluation is systematically examining how program features and implementation systems are associated with services delivered and impacts across four of the home visiting models designated as evidence-based by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Early Head Start: Home-based option, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers."--Overview.

Logan's community gateways: a discussion paper

Logan Together (Organization)
Meadowbrook, Qld. : Logan Together, 2018.
Logan Together is working to develop a shared conceptual model of 'community gateways', which are also known as community hubs, community centres, and neighbourhood centres. Logan Together is a place-based community development campaign to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged children and their families in the city of Logan, Queensland, and includes over 20 centre-based, soft-entry community gateways that enable children and families to access prevention and social inclusion activities and programs and link with more intense and specialised assistance when needed. Despite differences in the aims, funding and management of these community gateways, they share similar theoretical foundations, evaluation findings, and service delivery challenges. This paper discusses Logan Together's learnings about Community Gateways and provides information on the different community gateways in Logan, common strategies for engaging families, collaborative and co-location service models, and measurement and best practice.

Phase 1 progress report for Logan Together 2018

Clear Horizon Consulting, Logan Together (Organization), Queensland. Dept. of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, Australia. Dept. of Social Services
Meadowbrook, Qld. : Logan Together, 2018.
'Logan Together' is a place-based community development campaign to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged children and their families in the city of Logan, Queensland. This progress report summarises the progress, activities and outcomes of Logan Together in its first three years, and assesses the extent to which is Logan Together on track to achieve its outcomes. Logan Together was established in 2015 and involves a collaboration between three tiers of government, non-government organisations, and other partners. Despite some challenges, the evaluation finds that Logan Together is on track and has clearly contributed to systemic changes and early instances of impact on families, children and parents. Outcomes include: improved engagement of certain at-risk cohorts, such as women not accessing maternity services or families experiencing tenancy difficulties; improved parental awareness of childhood development needs and milestones; improvement in kindy enrolments; and changes resulting from increased reach of services. Systems level improvements that have resulted include: cross-sector collaboration, integrated approaches to strategic delivery, innovation of new services and models, changes in practice, shifts in mindset and attitudes, and resource flows. This report also presents case studies of individual programs and services, highlights key learnings, and makes recommendations for improvement.

Family Foundations process evaluation

Barker J, Thorpe R and McArthur M
Watson, A.C.T. : Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, 2018.
'Family Foundations' is an early intervention therapeutic parenting program in the Australian Capital Territory. It was developed in 2016 by Belconnen Community Services and targets families with young children who are dealing with complex parenting needs and difficulties but who are not in crisis or involved with child protection services. This report assesses the extent to which program has been implemented as intended, as part of a broader evaluation of the program. It assesses whether the program is working with its intended population group, whether its intake and assessment processes are accessible and responsive, whether it is implemented in accordance with the program logic and policy guidelines, capacity to provide quality support, and engagement in coordinated or collaborative service delivery. It also looks at early indications on whether families are being assisted. Based on these findings, the report makes several recommendations for service delivery.

Outside in: how the youth sector supports the school re-engagement of vulnerable children in Tasmania

Robinson C
Hobart, Tas. : Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare Tasmania, 2018.
This report explores the barriers to school access and participation for vulnerable children in Tasmania, and makes recommendations aimed at strengthening the capacity of schools to transition vulnerable children back into school and hold them there. The report draws on interviews with 22 youth workers about the issues they encountered and responded to, regarding the challenges faced by young clients aged 9-14 years old, the types of school re-engagement work undertaken, the enablers and barriers to positive re-engagement outcomes, the supports they need to better do their work, and the supports for children that would most positively impact upon their access to and participation in school. The social workers highlight that many of their young clients don't know how to go to school, facing trauma, adversity, hardship, isolation, and a lack of safety, and without carers to model or support school engagement.

Changing the life trajectories of Australia's most vulnerable children. Report no. 2, The first twelve months in the Early Years Education Program - an initial assessment of the impact on children and their primary caregivers

Tseng Y, Jordan B, Borland J, Coombs N, Cotter K, Hill A and Kennedy A
Parkville, Vic. : University of Melbourne, 2018.
The Early Years Education Program is an early years care and education program in Victoria targeting children who are exposed to significant family stress, abuse, or social disadvantage. The program aims to address the consequences of family stress on children's development and ensure that at-risk and vulnerable children arrive at school developmentally equal to their peers and equipped to be successful learners. This is the second report from an evaluation of the program, and looks at the impacts on children and their carers after the first 12 months of enrolment. A total of 145 infants and toddlers were recruited to the EYEP trial, from 99 families engaged with family services or child protection services. Outcomes include IQ, language skills, protective factors related to resilience, social-emotional development, carer psychological distress, and the home environment. This second report found that the benefits of the program are encouraging but not as yet conclusive.

Rapid evidence review: the impact of poverty on life course outcomes for children, and the likely effect of increasing the adequacy of welfare benefits

New Zealand. Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand. Welfare Expert Advisory Group
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Social Development, 2018.
This report summarises the evidence on the impact of childhood poverty and whether increasing welfare benefits is likely to improve their outcomes. It briefly reviews the evidence on the causal effects of being exposed to poverty in childhood on outcomes in childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood, then considers the likely effect of increasing the adequacy of cash transfers on these outcomes. It also briefly reviews the evidence on the effects of exposure to poverty in adulthood on adult wellbeing. Though the evidence base on the causal impact of childhood poverty on life course outcomes is still limited, it does indicate that children and adolescents who experience poverty experience a range of worse outcomes and increases in family income from cash transfers can positively affect outcomes for both children and adults. This paper was prepared for the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, which has been established to review how the welfare system in New Zealand can be improved.

Sure Steps : trialling a family coaching model with families in public housing.

Avdagic E, Grose C, Hunter J and Wade C
Peer reviewed papers from the FRSA 2018 National Conference : be the change - leaving no one behind. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2018: 13-22
Sure Steps is a pilot family coaching program for families living in public housing, which is being trialled in Logan, Queensland. The program assists families by helping them to articulate their aspirations for themselves and their children and then supporting them to achieve these goals, using a two generational approach to helping vulnerable families. Though the pilot raised questions for further investigation it has been well-received by families. This paper describes the program and presents findings from an evaluation of the first stage of the pilot. This paper is an expanded and peer reviewed version of an abstract accepted by the conference for presentation.

KickStart Breakfasts and indicators of child health in linked administrative data

Wilson M, Hyslop D, Vette M and McMillen P
Wellington, N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2018.
The KickStart Breakfast programme was established in 2009 in New Zealand as a partnership between food companies Fonterra and Sanitarium, with the food companies supplying milk and cereal two days per week to free breakfast clubs run by school communities. The Government provided funding to expand the programme in 2012, with breakfasts now offered on all school days and to all schools, not just disadvantaged ones. This study was commissioned to assess the impact of the programme on two student outcomes - their bone and oral health. Using linked administrative data, it compares uptake and participation by age and school socioeconomic area, hospital outpatient visits for dental surgery, medical claims for fractures or dislocation, and outpatient and emergency department visits for orthopaedic surgery, for students aged under 13 years old. Other school health programs in New Zealand are discussed in an appendix.

How Early Head Start prevents child maltreatment

Green B
Bethesda, MD : Child Trends, 2018.
Early Head Start (EHS) is a two-generation early childhood education program in America serving low-income families from pregnancy to the child's third birthday. This paper summarises findings from a large-scale study on the role of EHS in reducing child abuse and neglect - going beyond simply asking 'Did the program work?' to ask 'How did it work?'. Child welfare agency records, from 1997?2013, for 2,794 children from 16 sites were linked to data from the original randomised controlled trial of EHS. The study investigated whether EHS participation prevented children's involvement with the child welfare system from birth to age 15, and if so, what factors might explain how the program was able to have this impact. The findings indicate that programs, like EHS, that successfully decrease family conflict and stress in a child's early years while simultaneously supporting positive, emotionally responsive parenting and child cognitive development are more likely to reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect after the program ends.

Britain's not-so-hidden hunger: a progress report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger

Forsey A
England : Feeding Britain, 2018.
In 2014 the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger presented 'Feeding Britain', a strategy to achieve zero hunger across the United Kingdom. One hundred days later, this follow up report looks at what progress has been made. It notes more recent data on the longer term pressures on budgets in poor households, expands upon fresh reports received of children complaining in some cases of' 'persistent' hunger at school, maps the 'hidden army' helping to feed the hungry, then considers some potential next steps towards establishing a way of measuring and then countering hunger in the nation.

Evaluation of the School Breakfast Clubs Program: interim report - March 2018

MacDonald F
Yarraville, Vic. : Foodbank Victoria, 2018
In 2015-2016, the Victorian Government funded Foodbank Victoria to establish breakfast clubs at 500 disadvantaged government primary school over the next four years. Research has found that such schemes not only help address hunger and associated learning problems, breakfast club attendance also has an impact on behaviour and wellbeing. Victoria University is evaluating this School Breakfast Clubs Program (SBCP) and provides an interim report each year into operations, impacts, and challenges. This report presents findings after two years of operation, and is based on preliminary data from the Foodbank baseline survey, the 2016 and 2017 annual survey, the 2016 and 2017 teacher survey, focus groups with students, and the six case-study findings. In the 2017 findings, 88% of the schools report that they are meeting the breakfast needs of their students, but 46% still report that staffing and volunteers remain the greatest barrier to the program being offered more frequently. Impacts on students include concentration, informal learning, social skills, behaviour, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, academic outcomes, attendance and punctuality, and relations with staff.

Facilitated parent-child groups as family support : a systematic literature review of supported playgroup studies.

Williams K, Berthelsen D, Viviani M and Nicholson J
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 27 no. 8 Jul 2018: 2367-2383
This systematic review assesses the evidence on the effectiveness of supported playgroups in helping disadvantaged children and families. 34 studies were assessed: most of them from Australia. Though the studies indicated that such programs are well regarded by parents, there is little rigorous or high quality evidence and further research is required to establish the effectiveness of this intervention.
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