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 Playgroups in the AIFS library catalogue.

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.

Building fathering competencies through a universal, soft-entry, early intervention and prevention service.

Macfarlane K, Hayes A, Lakhani A and Hodgson G
Children Australia v. 42 no. 4 Dec 2017: 248-255
This article explores the impact of a playgroup aimed at fathers in south-east Queensland. The Dad's Playgroup is run as part of Communities for Children Logan and though facilitated by two male workers is not organised in a particular way. Drawing on interviews with 6 of the fathers, the article looks at the impact on fathers and their partners, the changes that occurred for parents and children, whether needs were met, and how the playgroup functions as a support service for fathers.

Playgroups evaluation guide: planning for the evaluation of supported and community playgroups

Child Family Community Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2017.
This guide aims to encourage consistency in the evaluation of playgroups. Due to the diversity of playgroup offerings and the variety of intended outcomes for playgroups, this evaluation guide does not propose one singular evaluation tool or methodology. Instead, it outlines the key steps and considerations in planning a playgroup evaluation, including evaluation design, selecting outcomes to measure, and data collection methods. This guide is part of a suite of playgroup resources developed by Child Family Community Australia and should be read in conjunction with the principles and program logic tools.

Playgroups outcomes measurement matrix

Child Family Community Australia
Melbourne, Vic. : Child Family Community Australia, 2017.
This resource has been designed to assist playgroups and playgroup providers with choosing valid and reliable tools to measure core playgroup outcomes. It is hoped that by providing a number of outcomes measurement tools that can be used consistently across jurisdictions and organisations when evaluating different types of playgroups, the evidence base for the effectiveness of playgroups can be built upon and strengthened. The list of tools, although not exhaustive, includes those that are commonly used within the service sector and are largely freely available.

Supported and community playgroup program logics

Child Family Community Australia
Melbourne, Vic. : Child Family Community Australia, 2017.
Program logic models show how a program works and draw out the relationships between resources, activities and outcomes - it is both a tool for program planning and also for evaluation. Child Family Community Australia has developed two related but distinct program logics: one for community playgroups and one for supported playgroups. They have been designed to be broad so that they demonstrate the logic behind playgroups generally, and are intended to be adapted by playgroup providers to reflect the specific aims and objectives of individual playgroups.

A qualitative exploration of mothers who reject playgroup.

Davies F and Harman B
Australian Social Work v. 70 no. 3 2017: 276-288
Though new parent and community groups such as playgroups are valuable resources to assist in the transition to motherhood, there are factors that affect parent attendance and engagement. This article adds to the research on these barriers with a study on mothers who choose not to use playgroups. Ten mothers in Perth, Western Australia, were interviewed regarding how they experienced parenting and social support in their mothering role, to help explore how mothers construct their reality through interactions with others and to what extent this constructed reality impacted on their subjective evaluations of playgroup. Four main themes were identified: the presence of support; perception of playgroup; identity as a mother; and other sources of information.

Principles for high quality playgroups: examples from research and practice

Commerford J and Hunter C
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2017.
Despite the prominence of playgroups in Australia, there is no one established set of principles guiding their practice and delivery and only limited research and evaluation. To help address this gap, this document presents a set of principles identifying the fundamental core characteristics of high-quality playgroups to guide policy makers, planners, and service providers. Each of the nine principles are described, along with action-oriented statements to inspire thought and discussion of how the principles can be implemented and further detail on the research evidence, practical examples, and further resources. The development of these principles drew on workshops and focus groups with professionals who have experience funding, planning, researching, and running playgroups. This document part of a suite of playgroup resources developed by Child Family Community Australia.

Supported playgroups for health promotion activity for healthy eating and active living : a social ecological perspective.

Lloyd B, Buffett K, Innes-Hughes C, Jackson D, Qi J and Powell L
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 42 no. 1 online annex Mar 2017: 116-121
Childhood overweight problems and obesity is a significant problem in Australia, with 19% of children commencing kindergarten either overweight or obese. The issue is increasingly recognised within both health promotion and the early childhood education and care sectors. The purpose of this paper is to identify a health promotion approach appropriate for supported playgroups - facilitated playgroups targeting vulnerable families. Primary research included individual interviews with managers, facilitators and parents/carers and observations within four non-specialist supported playgroups in urban and regional locations in NSW. Our findings show that supported playgroups lend themselves to the integration of healthy eating and active play with current practice, building on the existing methods and strengths of supported playgroups rather than additional intensive programming. They provide a 'soft entry' vehicle to deliver a health promoting environment, play-based learning activities for children and context-specific participatory and implicit learning for parents and carers.

Supported playgroups for parents and children : the evidence for their benefits [Reprint]

Commerford J and Robinson E
Family Matters no. 99 2017: 42-51
Supported playgroups have been operating for many years in Australia, despite the absence of strong empirical evidence for their effectiveness in supporting vulnerable families. This article assesses the evidence on the benefits of supported playgroups for parents and children and the factors important to their operation. It also considers their role as a 'soft entry point' to other services, and whether - and how - they assist families to transition out of the playgroup.

Impact of a brief group intervention to enhance parenting and the home learning environment for children aged 6-36 months : a cluster randomised controlled trial.

Hackworth N, Berthelsen D, Matthews J, Westrupp E, Cann W, Ukoumunne O, Bennetts S, Phan T, Scicluna A, Trajanovska M, Yu M and Nicholson J
Prevention Science 20 Jab 2017: Advance online publication
The Victorian State Government has commissioned the development and trial of a group parenting intervention designed to strengthen the home learning environment of children from disadvantaged families. The intervention aims to increase the frequency of responsive parenting behaviours and strategies for providing a stimulating home learning environment, such as shared book reading and monitoring use of media, as well as the indirect factors of self-care, parenting efficacy, and community connectedness. This article presents the evaluation findings from the trial of this program, 'smalltalk'. smalltalk was offered across 20 local government authorities in two versions: one for the parents of infants attending maternal and child health services and one for parents of toddlers in facilitated playgroups. Furthermore, the program was delivered in two levels of intensity: the group program alone and the group program combined with individual home visits. The trial compared the versions together and against standard care - the infant-version trial involved 986 parents across 51 locations and the toddler-version trial involved 1200 parents across 58 locations. Eligibility included low family income, receipt of government benefits, single, socially isolated, young parent, or culturally or linguistically diverse background. Overall, the trial provides some evidence of the benefits of parenting interventions for the home learning environment for parents of toddlers, though not of infants.

Participation of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in a parent support programme : longitudinal associations between playgroup attendance and child, parent and community outcomes.

Williams K, Berthelsen D, Viviani M and Nicholson J
Child : Care, Health and Development v. 43 no. 3 May 2017 441-450
This article explores playgroup participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and its impact on child and family outcomes. It investigates whether children's participation at 2 and 3 years of age is associated with the child's vocabulary development, motor skills, behaviour problems, and prosocial development at 4 years of age, as well as parent engagement and the home learning environment, resilience, advice-seeking, health service use, and community trustworthiness. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC).

The Playgroup Framework: a foundation document

Njegac D, Tarasuilk J and Regan J
Melbourne : Playgroup Victoria, 2016.
This document presents and details the Playgroup Model, a visual representation of the child as the focus and at the centre of the playgroup experience which offers an understanding of how the child's development, wellbeing and learning is supported, promoted and buoyed by the presence and involvement of their parents, family and community. The Playgroup Model is one component of Playgroup Victoria's Playgroup Framework.

Queensland supported playgroup evaluation: final report

Williams K, Berthelsen D, Viviani M and Nicholson J
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland University of Technology, 2016.
Supported playgroups aim to support disadvantaged families with young children in order to enrich children's early learning and developmental opportunities. They are funded across Australia through national, state, and local governments, but there has been little research so far on their effectiveness. This study was funded by the Queensland Government to investigate the effectiveness of supported playgroups for enhancing children's early development and learning, parenting confidence and skills, and social connectedness, as well as their role within communities and the features that affect successful delivery. This report summarises the findings of the study and makes a substantial contribution to the evidence base. The study involved 4 phases over two years: a systematic review of the international literature, interviews with parents and playgroup facilitators, a multi-site case study of 8 supported playgroups, and an analysis of data from the Australian Early Development Census, Playgroup Queensland membership data, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, and the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children.

My time in Newman.

Van Nieuwkuyk K
Every Child v. 22 no. 2 2016: 14-15
This article describes the author's experiences running a playgroup in Newman, an Indigenous community in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. She discusses local conditions, the local Martu people, and the activities and role of the playgroup, which actively involved the mothers and was visited by health professionals upon request.

It takes a village to raise a child: the influence and impact of playgroups across Australia

Gregory T, Harman-Smith Y, Sincovich A, Wilson A and Brinkman S
Macquarie, A.C.T. : Playgroup Australia, 2016.
Playgroup Australia commissioned this research study to examine the role of community playgroups in the lives of families and how they impact on children's early development. Part 1 of the study was a qualitative exploration of the factors that have contributed to the gradual decline in membership of community playgroups since 2006. This report presents the findings of part 2, a quantitative evaluation of the number of children that attend playgroups, the types of children and families that attend, whether some children were missing out, and the impact on children's early development. The study draws on the Australian Early Development Census, a national dataset measuring child development for all children who started school in 2012. The findings show that children who attend playgroups during early childhood have significantly better child development when they start school than those who don't.

Giving voices and providing skills to families in culturally and linguistically diverse communities through a productive parenting program.

Deans J, Liang R and Frydenberg E
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 41 no. 1 Mar 2016: 13-18
Families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and disadvantaged communities, particularly those with young children, may be more vulnerable to experiencing multiple and complex life problems and hence benefit from community resources that support their everyday needs, in particular their parenting. This study reports on an inclusive model of a community-based parenting program, which aimed to support CALD parents to establish and maintain positive relationships and guide their children's learning and development. Seventeen families from a community playgroup in inner city Melbourne participated in a five-session Early Years Productive Parenting Program (EYPPP). Program evaluation data suggests that a flexible-delivery parenting program such as the EYPPP has the potential to strengthen productive coping capacities in families and in doing so contribute to the overall wellbeing of young children.

Smoothing the way : investigating the role of a supported playgroup located at a school.

Knaus M, Warren J and Blaxell R
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 41 no. 2 Jun 2016: 59-68
The transition to kindergaten is a period of change that can be challenging for many children and their families. While there is wide recognition for the need to support children before and during periods of transition, there is little research on the role of how supported playgroups assist children and families. This research tracked a cohort of children who attended a supported playgroup located on school grounds and their transition to kindergarten the following year. The study was conducted at a metropolitan school in a low socioeconomic suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and included data from the children, families and school staff. The social and emotional development and learning dispositions of the kindergarten class were observed in the early weeks of the new school year. Interviews with the families and school staff examined perspectives on how the children transitioned into kindergarten. The supported playgroup and the relationships formed between all stakeholders were instrumental in the smooth transition to the kindergarten program.

Relationships matter: the social and economic benefits of community playgroups

McShane I, Cook K, Sinclair S, Keam G and Fry J
Melbourne, Vic. : Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, 2016.
This report investigates the social and economic value of community playgroups in Australia. In particular, it looks at the contribution of playgroups to the landscape of social care, their adaptive response to changing social and economic trends, their role in developing social capital and acting as a catalyst for parents and carers to engage with other social settings, and their contribution to the informal or non-market economy. The study draws on interviews with playgroup participants and coordinators and data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

Supported playgroups for parents and children: the evidence for their benefits

Commerford J and Robinson E
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2016.
Supported playgroups aim to support families with particular vulnerabilities or needs. They are run by a paid, qualified facilitator, and target parents who may require additional support to participate in a playgroup. After reviewing the different types of playgroups and funding models in operation in Australia, this paper assesses the evidence on the benefits of supported playgroups for parents and children and their role as a 'soft entry point' to other services. The paper also briefly considers issues in the evaluation of supported playgroups.

Supported playgroups for children from birth to five years

Pourliakas A, Sartore G, Macvean M and Devine B
Paddington, NSW : Benevolent Society, 2016.
This paper presents an overview of the most recent research on the impact of supported playgroups on outcomes for children from birth to five years. It explains the definition and composition of supported playgroups, summarises evidence from two systematic reviews, and discusses the implications for policy and practice. The paper concludes that - though initial benefits have been shown - additional high-quality research is needed in order to draw strong conclusions on the benefits or otherwise of supported playgroups.

Intensive supported playgroups : a literature and policy review.

Cartmel J, Boddy J, Lakhani A and Gatfield E
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 42 Aug 2015: 66-77
This article reviews the literature on the benefits of intensive supported playgroups for children and the wider community, as well as the barriers to service provision and possible solutions.

Playgroups offering health and well-being support for families : a systematic review.

Lakhani A and Macfarlane K
Family & Community Health: The Journal of Health Promotion & Maintenance v. 38 no. 2 Apr/Jun 2015: 180-194
This literature review examines the impact of health and well-being services provided within playgroups. Studies were found supporting the benefits of such programs for children's social development, transition to school, and overall health, as well as social and health support and knowledge sharing for parents.

Playgroup participation and social support outcomes for mothers of young children : a longitudinal cohort study.

Hancock K, Cunningham N, Lawrence D, Zarb D and Zubrick S
PLoS ONE v. 10 no. 7 Jul 2015: e0133007
This article investigates the influence of mothers' playgroup participation on their later friendship networks and social support outcomes when their children are older. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), it examines the extent to which patterns of playgroup participation - for mothers of children aged 3-19 months or 2-3 years old - were associated with social support outcomes and social isolation when the children are aged 4-5 years old and later at 8-9 years old.

Systematic literature review: research on supported playgroups

Williams K, Berthelsen D, Nicholson J and Viviani M
Brisbane : Queensland University of Technology, 2015.
This report reviews the research evidence on the effectiveness of supported playgroups. It reviews Australian and international literature from 2004 to 2014 on the impact on child, parent, and community outcomes and the key features of supported playgroups that support effective outcomes. The analysis found that though the studies show the potential for supported playgroups to improve a broad range of learning and psychosocial outcomes for children and parents, the nature of the research designs employed means that it is not possible to conclude that there is strong evidence. study was commissioned by the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

Ideologies of motherhood : meaning making and decision making around paid work in a West Ryde playgroup.

Stockey-Bridge M
Anthropology of Work Review v. 36 no. 2 Nov 2015: 87-96
Many mothers today face the decision of engaging in paid work or being a full-time carer. Drawing on interviews with mothers attending a playgroup in West Ryde, New South Wales, this article explores the the impact of social expectations and ideologies on the decisions mothers make and how this affects their sense of agency.

The efficacy of co-locating a supported playgroup in a shopping centre.

McEwin S, Stagnitti K and Andrews F
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 9 no. 1 Jul 2015: 69-85
This study evaluated the efficacy of co-locating a playgroup to a shopping centre to engage hard-to-reach families. We hope to contribute to the evidence base on supported playgroups in shopping centres. This small qualitative descriptive study utilised semi-structured interviews with twelve parents/caregivers of children who attended the playgroup and the two facilitators of the playgroup. Detailed notes were taken during interviews with the parents/caregivers. A detailed field journal was utilised which also included observations of the children's play. Data were thematically analysed using a qualitative descriptive approach. Four themes reflecting the value of the playgroup emerged from the data: Playgroup location and convenience; Playgroup flexibility; Space and security of the playgroup; and Support to families. In this small study, the co-location of playgroups to shopping centres was found to be a valuable method of engaging a wide variety of families, including families who are hard to reach. Larger studies are recommended to better demonstrate the importance of highly accessible supported playgroups for those unlikely to access playgroups in formal service settings.

Optimising children's readiness to learn through mediating social disadvantage : exploring models of best practice.

Targowska A, Teather S and Guilfoyle A
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 40 no. 2 May 2015: 12-19
This article discusses the importance of early support for families in increasing their children's readiness to learn and optimising their developmental outcomes. It reports the findings of the evaluation of the 'It Takes a Village: Multicultural Early Learning Program', a research project undertaken in 2009-2011 by a research team from Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. The unique model and characteristics of the program are discussed in the context of its role in facilitating children's developmental potential, through the mediation of social disadvantage of the new migrant and humanitarian entrant families in the south-east corridor of Perth's metropolitan area.

Social capital in metropolitan playgroups : a qualitative analysis of early parental interactions.

Gibson H, Harman B and Guilfoyle A
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 40 no. 2 May 2015: 4-11
Playgroups are community-based programs that enable the creation of social capital resources by providing opportunities for young families to network and access peer support. However, there are insufficient Australian studies on community playgroups and the extent to which new parents feel supported through their playgroup involvement. This research sought to study the ways early parental interactions in community playgroups reflect parents' social capital. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen playgroup parents in Perth, Western Australia. Data gave rise to three main themes: getting together, generating stocks of social capital and missing out. The study concludes that although community playgroups have the capacity to support young families, vulnerable and socially disadvantaged individuals may continue to feel isolated, excluded or left out. A number of policy implications can be drawn from this study, including consideration for employing support workers and enhancing the community playgroup model.

Social connections among parents of pre-school-age children in an inner and outer area of Melbourne, Australia.

Andrews F, Shelley J, Rich S and James A
Journal of Social Inclusion v. 6 no. 1 2015: 35-54
Parents' social connectedness is an important factor in child health and development outcomes and has been strongly linked to place. This study aimed to compare social connectedness amongst parents in inner versus outer-suburbs of Melbourne using a mixed methods approach. Parents were recruited via playgroups, mother's groups and preschools and interviewed regarding their social networks their ideals and experiences of raising children in their current location. Parents in the two areas identified a similar number of contacts, but had differently structured networks. Outer-suburban parents were more likely than inner-suburban parents to have very few contacts, and to name their general practitioner as among their significant contacts. They were less likely to have more extended networks or to include neighbours among their contacts. The findings revealed the different priorities parents placed on neighbours, barriers experienced in connecting with neighbours in the outer-suburbs, and the consequent heavy reliance on organised activities to form social connections. The different types of social connections parents in inner and outer Melbourne made in relation to raising their preschool-aged children revealed in this study have implications for both service delivery and social planning of new developments.

Early childhood nutrition, active outdoor play and sources of information for families living in highly socially disadvantaged locations.

Myers J, Gibbons K, Arnup S, Volders E and Naughton G
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health v. 51 no. 3 Mar 2015: 287-293
This article evaluates the impact of supported play groups on parental health knowledge and child nutrition and physical activity among disadvantaged families in Victoria. 81 parents attending supported playgroups were surveyed about children's nutrition, consumption of sweetened and packaged food, food insecurity, active outdoor play and screen time, sources of health information, use of family members and the internet for health information, and understanding of health information, with comparisons made with 331 children attending maternal and child health and childcare centres.
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