Interagency collaboration

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 Interagency collaboration in the AIFS library catalogue

It takes a village: understanding the drivers that facilitate interagency collaboration for improved mental health outcomes for children aged 0-12

Prosser S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2021.
This paper outlines findings from a research study into mental health care pathways for children and makes recommendations for the mental health system. This research involved interviews and workshops with 80 practitioners in the Geelong Barwon region of Victoria, including general practitioners, nurses, mental health workers, parenting group facilitators, kindergarten service managers, paediatricians and social workers. Participants were asked about the factors that facilitate mental health referral and care for children aged 0-12 and the barriers to interagency collaboration. The common themes led to 10 recommendations to improve coordination, collaboration and care, and this article also discusses 4 of these in more detail: improvements to screening, assessment, triage and referral processes; support for co-ordination; establishment of integrated community service hubs that enable co-location of primary, secondary and tertiary services with social and family service providers; and education of health and social services to better integrate with schools and the education system.

A quasi-experimental study of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) : a collaborative response to child sexual abuse.

Herbert J and Bromfield L
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 111 Jan 2021: Article 104827
The Multi-agency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) is a new response to child sexual abuse in Perth, Western Australia, that involves a co-located team of support services and investigation. This article reports on its implementation and its impact on criminal justice, child protection, and service outcomes. The model was implemented in 126 agencies, and compared to 276 'practice as usual' services. The review found that the MIST model was implemented largely as intended, but with some challenges to fidelity due to staff workload. The review also found little impact on arrest or child protection actions. However, MIST produced significantly faster criminal justice and child protection processes, with high levels of parent satisfaction and child engagement with therapy.

Measuring progress towards genuine partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous organisations.

Mastroianni A
CFCA short article 15 Dec 2020
Genuine and respectful partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and non-Indigenous service providers are key to providing effective support for families, but these partnerships require a shared ongoing commitment. This short article outlines the findings of an audit on organisations' progress towards achieving genuine and respectful partnerships. At the start of 2020, SNAICC invited services working in partnership to complete a voluntary audit, including questions about how their partnership was established, sustained, and reviewed. The findings indicate that interest, motivation and engagement in the first phase of establishing a genuine partnership is strong, but, over time, less attention and effort is placed on the work required to maintain a genuine partnership.

Planning early childhood services in 2020: learning from practice and research on children's centres and family hubs

Lewing B, Stanford M and Redmond T
London : Early Intervention Foundation, 2020.
This report looks at different approaches to designing and implementing integrated children's centres and family hubs in England, to help inform future development. It draws on a review of the literature plus interviews with practitioners in 14 local areas across England, regarding the objectives of children's centres and hubs, which families are targeted, the most effective ways of delivering children's centres and hubs, and how important are evidence-based interventions to children's centres and hubs. The report highlights the need for evidence and support to help inform the local planning of early childhood services. There is a lack of robust national data on the characteristics and effectiveness of contemporary children's centres and hubs, and the loosening of statutory requirements in England has led to increasing diversity of local approaches and experimentation, but without common language or measures. However, some conclusions can be made about how best to support local approaches.

Working together to support families where a parent uses alcohol and/or other drugs.

Scott D, Arunogiri S and Bergwever E
25 November 2020.
This webinar will explore opportunities for using collaborative, family-inclusive approaches to support families where a parent uses alcohol and/or other drugs. Families where a parent uses alcohol and/or other drugs (AOD) may need a range of different supports, including from child protection and family support services. Research indicates that when collaboration between these agencies is limited, families are at greater risk of falling through the gaps. This webinar will build on the findings from an earlier webinar, 'Collaborative practice in child and family welfare: Building practitioners' competence', focusing on the opportunities that family-inclusive approaches offer in supporting families where a parent uses AOD. In particular, this webinar will outline: research evidence on the intersections between parental AOD use and child protection concerns; principles and values that underpin the practice of professionals working in AOD and child protection; and opportunities and strategies for building cross-sector empathy and working together. Drawing on case studies developed through a recent Turning Point survey, presenters will reflect on ways that collaboration between AOD and child and family welfare services can help to ensure families get the support they need.

Pushing the boundaries: using telehealth to improve regional access and care

Robinson R, Newman S, Moore T, West S and Leone V
Parkville, Vic. : Centre for Community Child Heath, Royal Children's Hospital, 2020.
This paper highlights how telehealth can be used to improve the quality and accessibility of primary health care for families in regional areas. It proposes a model of care that seeks embeds secondary and specialist paediatric expertise into primary care using telehealth. Sections include: why is this issue important?; we must act early; needs are changing; a foundation for change; the benefits of telehealth; the benefits of embedded specialist care; optimising telehealth; and considerations for policy and practice.

Strengthening Families: research on how the programme operates

Matheson I
Wellington, N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2020.
The Strengthening Families programme In New Zealand supports vulnerable families by providing free, structured, interagency case conferencing to coordinate services, with a focus on early intervention. This study was commissioned to help Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children better understand how Strengthening Families operates across the country, and to inform the future development of this and other early intervention and interagency initiatives. It investigates the programme's original and how its purpose and context has changed over time, who delivers Strengthening Families, local variations, the role of Strengthening Families Coordinators, the operation of Local Management Groups, client groups, evidence of effectiveness, and the current national operating model. The study findings are presented in a main report with 12 appendices and a separate literature review.

Delivering evidence based services for all vulnerable families: a review of main policy issues

Acquah D and Thevenon O
Paris : OECD Publishing, 2020.
"The paper provides a summary on the role of family services in promoting child well-being, and then reviews the policy issues at all levels of the family service delivery systems. At the government level, the paper emphasizes the need to fostering collaboration between different government bodies, and to ensure adequate funding for early intervention and preventative services. At service delivery level, the main identified issues include getting a better integration between delivery organisations, building capacities to adapt evidence based interventions, sharing tools to facilitate service implementation, training practitioners with the necessary skills, ensuring that service delivery fits within the local context, and engaging families in services."--Publisher abstract.

States can improve supports for infants and toddlers who are in or at risk of entering foster care

Fischer M
Bethesda, MD : Child Trends, 2020.
This report investigates what policies and services are in place for infants and toddlers in care and at risk of entering care across the different states of America. The findings highlight service strengths and gaps, and provides an audit of current state services just prior to being able to access new federal funding under the Family First Act. All state child welfare agency administrators were surveyed in June 2019 regarding health assessments and services, supports for parents, partnerships and collaborations, the dependency court process for infants and toddlers in foster care and their families, promoting stability and attachment, post-permanency services, training in early childhood development and developmentally appropriate practice, and data collection practices.

Working together to keep children and families safe: strategies for developing collaborative competence

Price-Robertson R, Kirkwood D, Dean A, Hall T, Paterson N and Broadley K
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020.
This paper aims to assist child protection and child and family welfare sector practitioners to cultivate their collaborative competence; that is, their personal abilities to develop and sustain effective cross-sectoral relationship. Protecting children from abuse and neglect generally requires the coordinated efforts of practitioners from a variety of sectors, but child protection system inquiries from Australia and overseas have repeatedly highlighted the system-level and practitioner-level barriers that frustrate collaboration. This paper begins by exploring the idea of collaborative competence, and why it is relevant to those working to support at-risk children and families. It then reviews the literature on the barriers to collaboration and the specific qualities and practices that facilitate effective collaboration. The paper then outlines evidence-informed strategies for developing collaborative competence and the organisational qualities and practices that are needed for support.

Creating change through partnerships: an introductory guide to partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous organisations in child and family services

Mastroianni A and Burton J
Fitzroy, Vic. : SNAICC, 2020
Research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have low rates of engagement with child and family support services and face barriers to access. However, the research has also identified that services can increase access and engagement by engaging in effective partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. This guide provides an introduction to establishing genuine inter-agency partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous service providers. It explains the importance of genuine and non-tokenistic partnerships, describes the principles and practices that are effective to create and sustain genuine inter-agency partnerships, and provides tips, exercises and further reading.

Making space for collaboration : working with families and each other - The Hunter Co-Operative Inquiry Group.

Howard A, Ellis C, White J, Howman C, Hornery J, Dibley R, Holmes L, Cook S, Gleeson J, Pearce I, Davies L, Girdlestone D and Huggett T
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 53 2019: 18-33
In this article, a group of child and family workers, managers and a university-based researcher working in regional Australia report on a research project in which they collaborated in order to explore collaboration. From their research together, they learned about and documented a number of promising strategies for developing their individual and collective practice of collaboration in agency contexts that ranged from supportive, to indifferent, to hostile. In addition, by creating consistency between their research method and the subject they wanted to explore, they became co-researchers and, in doing so, added a new dimension to their practice. This, they argue, equips them to more confidently engage with the paradoxical world of collaboration in the competitive market and evidence-based or informed practice, as they work for inclusive and respectful service delivery for children and families. (Introduction, edited)

From silos to synergy : connecting and integrating family and community assets and strengths.

Hayes A and Day J
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 53 2019: 7-17
This article broadly considers advances in society and the challenges for family and community-focused agencies and organisations. Discussion ranges across population growth through increased life expectancy and reduced child mortality, educational participation, smaller family sizes, the unequal distribution of opportunity, the need for integrated services, de-duplication, place-based initiatives, data collection, and current and future workforce education and training.

The family centre approach to early intervention and prevention

Nova Smart Solutions, Salvation Army. Ingle Farm (S. Aust.)
Para Hills, S. Aust. : Salvation Army Ingle Farm, 2019
This document outlines the family centre approach to early intervention and prevention. It is used by FamilyZone Ingle Farm, an innovative and progressive model of engagement for families with children at risk of abuse or neglect. FamilyZone offers integrated support in a co-located space, with a 'one-stop-shop' and 'no-wrong-door' approach for stressed, isolated, and vulnerable families in Salisbury, South Australia. This document describes how the family centre approach works to prevent child abuse, its strategy of early intervention and prevention, its target population, and evaluation findings on its impacts.

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.

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.

Partnering with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to deliver trusted services with stronger outcomes for Aboriginal people

Western Australian Council of Social Service, Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council
West Perth, W.A. : WACOSS, 2019
This report presents recommendations on how to improve engagement between Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), Community Service Organisations (CSOs), and public sector agencies, and to address the systemic, cultural and inter-agency barriers to collaboration. The recommendations stem from a series of roundtables held by the West Australian Council of Social Service and Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council, which were particularly dominated by services involved in the family service and child protection sectors. It is hoped these recommendations will make a small but important contribution to honouring the principles and practice of self-determination for Aboriginal people and ACCOs, and manifestly improve the lives of Aboriginal children and their families.

Children's Teams evaluation: final report

Liston-Lloyd M and Sun H
Wellington N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2019.
The Children's Teams service in New Zealand is designed to support children/tamariki and families/whanau who have complex needs but do not meet the threshold for statutory care and protection services. They provide an integrated and collaborative approach and are a key component of the Children's Action Plan - the New Zealand Government's response to the White Paper for Vulnerable Children. Following a trial in 2013, there are now 10 sites operating across the country. This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the implementation and operation of three of the sites - Canterbury, Horowhenua/Otaki, and Rotorua. It discusses how well the Children's Teams are operating, the key strengths and challenges associated with the approach, and the opportunities for improvement. The findings highlights the value of providing holistic, relationship-based support to whanau and the need to address structural barriers to implementation.

Volunteer Family Connect : a matter of trust.

Nevile A and Tucker J
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 50 2018: 64-77
This article highlights the role of trust between funding agencies and service providers in supporting good outcomes for clients. It uses a case study of the Volunteer Family Connect program to explore the critical factors that enable trust to be developed and maintained. Volunteer Family Connect is an early intervention volunteer home visiting program for vulnerable or at risk families with young children aged under 3 years of age. It is currently being implemented across four states in Australia. The article describes the development of the program, implementation challenges, the role of leadership, and how trust was developed between the many stakeholders behind the program: three service delivery agencies, three universities, a consulting firm, and a philanthropist.

Growing up neglected: a multi-agency response to older children

Great Britain. Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (England), Great Britain. Care Quality Commission, Great Britain. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, Great Britain. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation
U.K. : United Kingdom Government, 2018.
This paper presents learnings on how to support older children who are living with neglect in the United Kingdom. It draws on the findings of the third joint targeted area inspection programme of how well agencies are working together, conducted by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and HMI Probation (HMIP). The inspectorates focused on six local areas: Stockton-on-Tees, Cheshire West and Chester, Haringey, Bristol, Peterborough, and Wokingham. This paper shares the most significant learning from these inspections to help drive improvements in practice, knowledge and understanding around identifying and responding to the neglect of older children.

Support for new parents and babies in New South Wales

Conolly K
Sydney, N.S.W. : Parliament of New South Wales, 2018.
This inquiry investigates current services and supports for parents of infants in New South Wales, and how they can be improved. Research highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of early intervention and support for parents during their children's early years, so this inquiry was established to examine the adequacy of current services and structures, especially for vulnerable parents, and consider the changes to current services and structures that could improve physical health, mental health and child protection outcomes, models of support provided in other jurisdictions, and the opportunities for new and emerging technology to enhance support. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry, beginning with the need for better coordinated and integrated universal child and family health services. Topics include home visiting services and services targeting fathers, perinatal mental health, parents with disability, Indigenous families, parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and young homeless parents.

National survey of FaRS-funded service providers: overview of services and service provider perspectives

Harvey J and Muir S
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018.
The Commonwealth Department of Social Services funds Family and Relationship Services (FaRS) and Specialised Family Violence Services (SFVS) to provide a key point of contact and intervention for families experiencing difficulties. The Department has commissioned this study to investigate how these services are dealing with domestic and family violence. This report presents the findings of the study, including what types of services are being provided, the challenges and gaps in service delivery, strengths and points of difference between SFVS and other FaRS services, staffing capacity and retention, integration and linkage with other funded and non-funded services, and referral pathways. The study draws on the insights of 212 service providers, and shares their strategies, approaches, perceptions, and experiences for meeting, managing, and responding to local community needs about domestic and family violence.

CAFS Family Services and family violence program initiatives : providing an inclusive, child focused, wrap-around support service to address the complex issues around family violence.

Vincent-Wade T and Mackay F
Peer reviewed papers from the FRSA 2017 National Conference : connecting the dots - creating wellbeing for all. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2017: 52-62
This paper describes three programs that Child & Family Services (CAFS) Family Services in Ballarat, regional Victoria, have developed to provide a greater level of safety for children exposed to family violence. These programs - the Family Services Family Violence Practitioner, the create-respect primary school program, and Dad's Tool Kit - aims to address the harm of family violence, eradicating destructive behaviours, and begin the process of healing. The paper explains their development and the importance of collaboration between Family Services family violence practitioners and Family Services case managers.

Care co-ordination interventions to improve outcomes during pregnancy and early childhood (up to 5 years)(Protocol)

Strobel N, Arabena K, East C, Schultz E, Kelaher M, Edmond K, Eades S and Chamberlain C
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews no. 8 2017: Article no. CD012761
Though service co-ordination has been shown to improve outcomes for families, many children and their families continue to receive fragmented health care. This article describes the aims and methodology for a proposed systematic review that will be conducted into care co-ordination for families with young children. The review intends to assess the effects of interventions designed to improve care co-ordination between separately funded services during pregnancy and early childhood, and note also any economic evaluations.

Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) pilot: evaluation report

Herbert J and Bromfield L
Adelaide : Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia, 2017.
This report summarises the findings of the evaluation of the MIST pilot project in Armadale, Western Australia. The Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) aimed to provide a holistic, multi-agency response to child abuse in the Armadale and Cannington region by co-locating the Child Abuse Squad team, police, Child Protection and Family Support workers and specialist child interviewers, Child and Family Advocates, and therapeutic support services. The team works with cases primarily related to child sexual abuse or severe physical abuse by a known offender. The evaluation investigated whether MIST was implemented as intended and how responsiveness, timeliness, and referral and service uptake differed between MIST services and 'practice as usual' conditions. The evaluation also drew on a review of the literature on the effect of multi-disciplinary teams on criminal justice outcomes, receipt of mental health and support services, child protection outcomes, satisfaction with the approach, and mental health symptoms, which is summarised in an appendix.

Integration in practice [Infants Home]

Howard C
Rattler : Community Child Care Co-Operative (NSW) Quarterly Journal 0819-9132 no. 121 Autumn 2017: 6-9
This article highlights the work and long history of The Infants Home - established in 1874 as the Sydney Foundling Institute and operating as an integrated child and family hub for early childhood, health, and family support services.

Working with families with parental mental health and/or drug and alcohol issues where there are child protection concerns : inter-agency collaboration.

Coates D
Child and Family Social Work v. 22 Suppl 4 Mar 2017: 1-10
'Keep Them Safe-Whole Family Team' (KTS-WFT) is one of a suite of projects developed under the 'Keep Them Safe: A shared approach to child wellbeing' initiative of New South Wales. Under this project, mental health, drug and alcohol, and child protection services collaborate to make families safer places for children: it is currently being trialled across four sites. This paper explores clinicians' views on the success of this project and barriers and facilitators to collaboration, as part of broader evaluation of one of the trial sites. The clinicians reported challenges with information sharing and confidentiality, inconsistency in the style of collaboration, tensions between the different services' theoretical paradigms, and insufficient clarity around processes. The article also briefly discusses how these issues could be addressed.

Two-generation programs : can 1 + 1 be more than 2?

Duncan G
Family Matters no. 99 2017: 8-14
Two-generation programs provide coordinated services to both parents and children - for example, early childhood education complemented with a parenting skills program. In this article, based on his keynote address given at the 16th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan looks at the potential of two-generation programs to benefit families - such as by closing the school achievement gap between children of high and low socio-economic status or reducing 'toxic stress' in the home. In particular, he discusses evidence from overseas on whether two-generation programs, run synergistically, have more impact on parents' and children's outcomes than two separate programs.

An evaluation of Puawaitahi: New Zealand's first multi-agency for child protection

Stevenson R
"Puawaitahi is New Zealand's first multi-agency service for child protection. It incorporates health, child protection, Police, evidential interviewing, and therapy services at one centralised location. This research aimed to examine the processes and procedures within the multi-agency. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with staff, referrers and children and families who had been seen within the service. Transcripts were analysed to identify common themes in relation to the multi-agency processes and procedures, the organisation's culture, accessibility, coordination, timeliness, quality of care, and areas for programme improvement. The programme evaluation found that Puawaitahi meets the majority of its own vision and mission statement goals and performs well in relation to the standards described for Child Advocacy Centres as they are known elsewhere. In particular, the multi-agency processes and procedures provided effective case coordination, and the physical environment, child focused service delivery, staff cultural competence, and interactions with stakeholders were rated highly by most participants across staff, referrer and consumer groups. Desired improvements included better access to therapy, changes to client referral and case coordination processes to further reduce delay, better client follow up procedures, and provision of the multi-agency model across every region in Auckland. This evaluation shows that a model inspired by USA Child Advocacy Centres has been effectively implemented and Puawaitahi stands as a model for implementation elsewhere in New Zealand. Issues concerning the evaluation of such programmes are discussed."--Author abstract.

Working differently with families : the Integrated Care Team model.

Knowles J and Kelly L
Children and Families in Focus (Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare) no. 2 Special issue from inquiry to action - research, policy & practice Mar 2016: 36-38
This special issue brings together presentations from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare's 5th Annual Sector Research Symposium, 'From Inquiry to Action'. This article describes the Integrated Care Team model developed at the Windermere community service organisation in Victoria. Windermere provides a wide range of services including disability services, early childhood development services, integrated family services, housing, victims' assistance, early childhood education and care and counselling services, and had noticed that service silos had developed, causing a barrier to seamless service as well as administrative inefficiency. In 2013, they developed a transdisciplinary approach to provide a seamless experience for consumers, commencing with the Integrated Care Team (ICT). The Team is comprised of staff from different service areas who work together to upskill key workers who provide the only direct interface with the consumer.
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