Early intervention programs for parents

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Early intervention programs for parents in the AIFS library catalogue

Kindy Conversations campaign review

Logan Together (Organization)
Meadowbrook, Qld. : Logan Together, 2019
The 'Kindy Conversations' behaviour change campaign aims to increase the attendance of children at high quality kindergartens in the city of Logan, Queensland. It uses a series of animated and informative resources to increase awareness amongst parents of the importance of kindergarten, improve kindergarten attendance rates, and assist parents to navigate the enrolment process. This campaign is part of the 'Logan Together' place-based community development initiative to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged children and their families. This paper updates evaluation findings on the impact of the campaign, and draws on interviews with 6 service providers. It outlines the findings and makes recommendations for improving the campaign.

Doing better for vulnerable young parents and their children: an exploration of how technology could catalyse system transformation

Cook K, Albury K, Savic M, Zirakbash F, Al Mahmud A, Ahmed A, Martin J, Fordyce R, Mackelprang J, Bano M and Schneider J
Hawthorn, Vic. : Distributed by Australian Policy Online, 2019.
This report looks into the opportunities for technology to enhance community services, with a study of vulnerable young parents at the Family Life community service in suburban Victoria. Drawing on interviews with twelve staff and ten clients, it explores how social service providers could use technology to support clients, manage their organisational obligations, and access professional resources as well as their clients' engagement with digital technology, use online support groups and parenting apps, and current barriers to access. The findings highlight the positive opportunities of technology but also variations in staff and clients' digital literacy and reliable internet access. The report concludes with recommendations for building clients' digital capacities, developing online peer support groups and in-house parenting apps, and assisting with Centrelink paperwork.

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.

Evaluating practitioner training to improve competencies and organizational practices for engaging fathers in parenting interventions.

Burn M, Tully L, Jiang Y, Piotrowska P, Collins D, Sargeant K, Hawes D, Moul C, Lenroot R, Frick P, Anderson V, Kimonis E and Dadds M
Child Psychiatry and Human Development v. 49 no. 1 Feb 2018: 230-244
Fathers are underrepresented in parenting interventions, and research has indicated that practitioner and organisational factors that may play a role. This article compares the impact of two training programs - one online, one face to face - on improving practitioner competencies and organisational practices for engaging fathers. The interventions were assessed pre-training, post-training, and after 2 months. Participants included 589 psychologists, social workers, counsellors, and other practitioners working in private, government, and non-government organisations from across Australia. Overall, the interventions produced significant improvements in several competencies and practices and reported rate of father engagement. Though both training formats were well-received, the benefits from the online format were not maintained longer term.

A pilot efficacy study of Parents Building Solutions : a universal parenting program using co-design and strength-based approaches.

Morris H, O'Connor A, Cummins J, Valentine C, Dwyer A, Goodyear M and Skouteris H
Children and Youth Services Review v. 105 Oct 2019: Article 104447
This article looks at the impact of Parents Building Solutions (PBS), a universal parenting program that features co-design with parents about the program's agenda and content. It presents findings of an evaluation across 3 sites in Melbourne, Victoria, investigating the program's impact on parenting quality, confidence, self-efficacy, understanding of child development, and responses to children's behaviour. It also examined the impact of the co-design methodology on parent engagement and attrition. The evaluation found the program had high attendance rates and a significant impact on pre-test measures.

Quality of delivery of 'right@home' : implementation evaluation of an Australian sustained nurse home visiting intervention to improve parenting and the home learning environment.

Kemp L, Bruce T, Elcombe E, Anderson T, Vimpani G, Price A, Smith C and Goldfeld S
PLoS ONE v. 14 no. 5 2019: Article e0215371
This article reports on the implementation of the right@home program, as part of a broader evaluation of the program. This program is a two-year nurse home visiting intervention that targets pregnant women with risk factors known to negatively impact children's learning and development, and a trial of the program is being conducted in Victoria and Tasmania. The implementation evaluation assessed practitioner notes on intervention dose, retention, and visit content - comparing these with the program schedule. Of the 352 families who commenced the program, 87.3% completed the program to child age 2 years and 71.9% received more than 75% of the scheduled visits. The findings indicate a high level of implementation fidelity.

Out of the shadows: building resilience in our community

King S, Yan L and Mollenhauer J
Sydney, N.S.W. : Anglicare, 2019.
This report highlights how an integrated service hub can help address the multi-causal and multi-faceted issue of deep and entrenched disadvantage. It presents findings from the evaluation of Anglicare Sydney's Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) model at its Liverpool site, which provides a single-entry point and case management for vulnerable and at-risk families to access a range of integrated and diverse program supports. Nearly two-thirds of the clients were single-parents, and services available included emergency relief, financial counselling, no interest loans, home visits, and referral. The report discusses the program logic and development of the model, findings from a client survey on impact and service use, and the key outcomes of improving resilience, confidence in parenting, and financial behaviour. The report concludes with the key learnings and policy implications. The findings highlight the value of providing the right framework and the right approach - in this case an integration of services and case management.

Universal approaches to promoting healthy development

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Brookings Institution
Princeton, NJ : The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution, 2019.

Early support for military-connected families: evaluation of services at NSPCC military sites

McConnell N
London : NSPCC, 2019.
This report evaluates three 'early help' services aimed at military families in England. The services are a drop-in program for parents and children under five years, school lunch clubs, and a group intervention for children with anxiety and emotional problems, which together aim to build five protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, support in times of need, and the social and emotional competence of children. The services are located near two army garrisons and are operated by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The evaluation aimed to identify the extent to which the services are meeting desired outcomes that improve safeguarding and early help for military-connected families, and involved surveys, focus groups, and administrative data.

'Women as Protectors' process evaluation

Romanou E and Margolis R
London : NSPCC, 2019.
'Women as Protectors' is a protective and capacity-building program for women in contact with men who pose a risk of sexual harm to children. The 10-week group work program aims to increase women's knowledge of sexual abuse and the ongoing risks that the man poses to their family, and is combined with Protective Behaviours sessions for children and mentoring. This report is one of three presenting the findings of an evaluation of the program. This report focuses on the factors associated with the effective delivery, appeal and acceptability of the service to its providers and users. The evaluation found that the program has many of the hallmarks of a feasible service but was let down by the dearth in referrals in some areas and low uptake of the Protective Behaviours sessions and mentoring. However, the positive findings from the outcomes evaluation component suggest it would be well worth the effort to overcome these issues.

'Women as Protectors' outcomes evaluation

Romanou E and Margolis R
London : NSPCC, 2019.
'Women as Protectors' is a protective and capacity-building program for women in contact with men who pose a risk of sexual harm to children. The 10-week group work program aims to increase women's knowledge of sexual abuse and the ongoing risks that the man poses to their family, and is combined with Protective Behaviours sessions for children and mentoring. This report is one of three presenting the findings of an evaluation of the program. This report focuses on the outcomes of the program, and looks at the client characteristics of women who were referred to the program, short-term outcomes for women and children, longer term impacts such as mental health, parental self-efficacy, and attitudes towards relationships with men, and the strengths and weaknesses of the service. Overall, the evaluation found that participants had positive outcomes at the end of the program, but only around half of participants saw improvements in mental or emotional wellbeing. The report concludes by considering how the service elements, content, targeting, and delivery could be improved. The appendices are published separately as a technical report, and include details on methodology, the questionnaires and measures, and further statistics.

A systematic review of technology-assisted parenting programs for mental health problems in youth aged 0-18 years : applicability to underserved Australian communities.

Hansen A, Broomfield G and Yap M
Australian Journal of Psychology 1 Apr 2019: Advance online publication
This article looks at whether technology-assisted programs may present an effective alternative to face-to-face programs for helping parents address their children's mental health problems. A systematic review was conducted of randomised controlled trials of technology-assisted parenting programs targeting mental health problems in children and young people aged 0-18 years old. The review found some evidence supporting their use but further research is required, particularly to assess whether technology can help engage groups who rarely access face to face programs, such as fathers and rural families.

Responding to adverse childhood experiences: an evidence review of interventions to prevent and address adversity across the life course

Di Lemma L
Cardiff : Public Health Wales ; Wrexham : Bangor University, 2019.
"Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful events during childhood that can have a profound impact on an individual's present and future health ... In Wales, many sectors are working to identify and respond to adversity in order to improve outcomes for those who have experienced ACEs ... To support innovation in addressing ACEs we have undertaken a review of evidence on common approaches to prevent ACEs and/or mitigate their negative impacts. Over 100 interventions were identified and collated across four common approaches: supporting parenting; building relationships and resilience; early identification of adversity; and responding to trauma and specific ACEs. Whilst the interventions vary in type, the review identified cross-cutting themes, which could be used to inform a whole system approach (spanning individual, family and community levels) to tackle ACEs across the life course, supporting the development of an ACE-informed approach. The report concludes by highlighting current gaps in the evidence and suggests key areas for further work to tackle ACEs for our future generations."--Introduction.

Development of ReachOut Parents : a multi-component online program targeting parents to improve youth mental health outcomes.

Cairns K, Potter S, Nicholas M and Buhagiar K
Advances in Mental Health v. 17 no. 1 Special issue on parenting interventions and the mental health of children and parents 2019: 55-71
ReachOut Parents is an online prevention and early intervention service that aims to help parents support their adolescent children's mental health. This article highlights the research that underpins the development of ReachOut Parents, which drew on a literature review, a survey of 1,000 parents about their concerns, needs, and barriers to accessing support, and consultations with 32 young people to understand the role of parents in supporting their mental health and their specific challenges, needs, and preferences for support. The findings highlighted how parents are well-placed to respond to their children's mental health concerns and that online programs have great potential to address the barriers to accessing information and support.

Service evaluation of the Cool Little Kids parenting program delivered in the community.

Jarosz E and Bayer J
Advances in Mental Health v. 17 no. 1 Special issue on parenting interventions and the mental health of children and parents 2019: 6-20
Cool Little Kids is a parenting intervention for children with internalising problems at risk of anxiety disorders. A university-based trial found the intervention improved parenting and reduced the risk of child anxiety disorders, but now the intervention has been trialled in a community clinical setting. This article presents the findings of the trial, conducted with 38 parents across Melbourne, Victoria. The findings support the effectiveness and acceptability of the intervention, with improvements to children's mental health and behaviour and their parents' stress and parenting style.

Unfogging the future : investigating a strengths-based program to build capacity and resilience in parents with mental illness.

McFarland L and Fenton A
Advances in Mental Health v. 17 no. 1 Special issue on parenting interventions and the mental health of children and parents 2019: 21-32
This article describes a parenting program for parents with a mental illness in regional Victoria. The program is a strength-based and recovery-focused intervention involving face-to-face group sessions and reflective activities, with the aim of building capacity and resilience. Some feedback from a sample of 4 parents and 2 program facilitators are included, about the strengths and benefits of the program.

SMS4 perinatal parents : designing parenting support via text messages for mothers with severe mental illness (SMI) and their partners.

Fletcher R, Campbell L, Williams A, Rawlinson C, Dye J, Baldwin A, May C and StGeorge J
Advances in Mental Health v. 17 no. 1 Special issue on parenting interventions and the mental health of children and parents 2019: 85-95
This article describes an intervention that uses SMS text messages to help support mothers with severe mental illness and their partners through pregnancy and early infancy. A suite of brief messages were developed for mothers and fathers separately, with topics looking at mood, attachment, co-parenting, self-care, and common stress-inducing parenting issues. The intervention is adapted from the SMS4Dads intervention for new fathers by an expert advisory group.

Engaging disadvantaged and vulnerable parents: an evidence review

Pote I
London : Early Intervention Foundation, 2019.
This report summarises the evidence on how to engage disadvantaged and vulnerable parents in parenting and parental conflict programmes and services, and makes recommendations for program design and service delivery. It reviews the literature on barriers to engaging parents and couples, recruiting and retaining hard-to-reach groups, and good practice. This report was commissioned by the British Department for Work and Pensions to help inform the delivery of their new Reducing Parental Conflict (RPC) programme, but the recommendations are relevant to a range of audiences.

Nurse home visiting for families experiencing adversity : a randomized trial.

Goldfeld S, Price A, Smith C, Bruce T, Bryson H, Mensah F, Orsini F, Gold L, Hiscock H, Bishop L, Smith A, Perlen S and Kemp L
Pediatrics v. 143 no. 1 Jan 2019: e20181206
This article reports on an evaluation of right@home, a nurse home visiting program targeting pregnant women with risk factors known to negatively impact children's learning and development. The program aims to improve parent care, parent responsivity, and the home learning environment, and is delivered by a multidisciplinary team of nurses and social care practitioners based in universal child and family health services. A trial of the program has been conducted in Victoria and Tasmania, with 722 women taking part from pregnancy to when their child was aged 2 years old. The evaluation found the program was well received, had high retention rates, and improved parenting and the home environment. Particular improvements were seen in more regular child bedtimes, safer home environments, warmer and less hostile parenting, parental involvement in children's learning, and more social interactions with other adults. The findings suggest the program could be integrated into child and family health services at scale.

Parents' perceptions of changes in family functioning after participation in a strengthening families intervention : a qualitative analysis.

Burn M, Knight T, Taylor L and Toumbourou J
Children and Youth Services Review v. 100 May 2019: 428-436
The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is a family-based prevention intervention that can help improve child mental health. This article reviews an Australian adaptation and trial of the program, drawing on the feedback of 15 parents who had participated in the trial. It discusses the perceived impact on child outcomes and family functioning and considers what factors related to these improvements. The findings highlight the role of families in children's mental health.

Building resilience and wellbeing in the early years : coping strategies for parents and children from CALD backgrounds.

Frydenberg E and Deans J
27 Feb 2019.
This webinar will discuss an approach to building coping strategies for parents and young children, with a focus on families from CALD backgrounds. Parenting in the early years can be a challenging time for parents as they navigate a range of issues relating to their child's development. Parenting programs aim to address these challenges by building parenting skills and capacity in order to help support parents in their role. This time can be particularly challenging for parents from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as tensions between mainstream Australian norms and cultural practices arise and recently arrived migrants commonly experience social isolation as a result of moving to a new country. There are barriers that prevent CALD parents from accessing the culturally appropriate support they need. This webinar will discuss an approach to productive parenting in early childhood that incorporates principles of positive psychology and productive coping skills for families with young children. This approach will be illustrated using a case example of an innovative early years productive parenting program adapted for parents from CALD backgrounds attending a playgroup in Melbourne, Australia. Research findings which indicate that parents benefit from being introduced to culturally sensitive parenting skills and that highlight the efficacy of practical resources to support communication between parents and children will also be discussed.

An Australian adaptation of the Strengthening Families Program : parent and child mental health outcomes from a pilot study.

Burn M, Lewis A, McDonald L and Toumbourou J
Australian Psychologist v. 54 no. 4 Aug 2019: 261-271
The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is a widely recommended family intervention that aims to improve family functioning and child mental health. It was first developed in America and can be run in either 8 or 14 sessions. This article reports on a pilot study to evaluate an Australian adaptation of the program. The pilot was conducted with 62 families with children aged 8-12 years old, from disadvantaged areas in regional Victoria with children 8-12-years old. Participants were assessed at before and after the intervention and at a 3-month follow-up, with participants attending either the 8 or 14 session versions. The evaluation found that the Australian adaptation of the SFP was both feasible and effective, with significant and sustained reductions in child difficulties and parental psychological distress.

Sharing information and engaging with parents about child mental health.

Obradovic A and McDonald M
12 Feb 2019.
This webinar explores how practitioners can support child mental health by sharing information with parents and effectively engaging their support in prevention and early intervention efforts. Practitioners regularly share information with parents about child health and development, and this is particularly important for child mental health as this issue is widely misunderstood. Drawing upon practice wisdom, research findings and lived experience, this webinar looks at how practitioners can tailor information about child mental health to meet families' unique needs and reflect the circumstances that impact on family relationships, social relationships, and relational capabilities. It will also examine some of the factors that might get in the way of engaging parents during this process and how these barriers can be approached.

Perspectives on ParentWorks : learnings from the development and national roll-out of a self-directed online parenting intervention.

Collins D, Tully L, Piotrowska P, Hawes D and Dadds M
Internet Interventions v. 15 Mar 2019: 52-59
'ParentWorks' is an online, free, self-directed, universal parenting program aimed at parents who have general concerns about parenting and child behaviour. This article highlights learnings from the design, development, and implementation of the program. It discusses website design, course content, program features, device accessibility, design features to mimic face-to-face programs, and program dropout. The implications for developing future online programs is then discussed.

Systematic review of the impact of coparenting interventions on paternal coparenting behaviour.

Pilkington P, Rominov H, Brown H and Dennis C
Journal of Advanced Nursing v. 75 no. 1 Jan 2019: 17-29
This article evaluates the effectiveness of coparenting interventions aimed at fathers. It presents the findings of a systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing fathers' involvement in parenting and support for their partner. The findings highlight the need for further - and better quality - research.

Enhancing father engagement in parenting programs : translating research into practice recommendations.

Lechowicz M, Jiang Y, Tully L, Burn M, Collins D, Hawes D, Lenroot R, Anderson V, Doyle F, Piotrowska P, Frick P, Moul C, Kimonis E and Dadds M
Australian Psychologist v. 54 no. 2 Apr 2019: 83-89
This article identifies policy and practice issues in engaging fathers in parenting interventions, based on previous review of the literature. The article presents six broad policy and practice recommendations to enhance father engagement: engaging fathers as part of the parenting team; avoiding a deficit model of fathering; increasing awareness of parenting interventions for fathers; ensuring father?inclusive content and delivery of parenting interventions; increasing father engagement practices at the organisational and service level; and increasing professional training regarding father engagement. This study is part of a broader project on fathers' needs and preferences in parenting interventions.

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.
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