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.

A review of community playgroup participation.

McLean K, Edwards S and Mantilla A
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 45 no. 2 Jun 2020: 155-169
This article reviews the literature on participation in community playgroups. Community playgroups are managed by volunteers and parents and children voluntarily attend. Although this model of playgroup operates in Australia and overseas, little is known about them, and this review highlights how more research is needed to build the evidence base on their operation and benefits.

Supporting family identity : the processes that influence belonging and boundaries in an LGBTQ playgroup.

Townley C
Journal of Family Studies 24 Jun 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores participation and inclusion in one playgroup for LGBTQ families. Drawing on interviews with playgroup members, the article looks at LGBTQ group identity and which families felt welcome or excluded from the playgroup. Though the group aimed to help LGBTQ families feel supported and nurtured in both their parent and LGBTQ identities, some families felt unwelcome.

Exploring associations between playgroup attendance and early childhood development at school entry in Australia : a cross-sectional population-level study.

Sincovich A, Gregory T, Harman-Smith Y and Brinkman S
American Educational Research Journal v. 57 no. 2 2020: 475-503
This article investigates whether children who attend playgroup have better development at school entry. It analyses data from the Australian Early Development Census, for children aged 4 to 6 years who commenced school in 2015. The findings indicate that children who attended playgroup had better results across all five developmental domains than whose who didn't attend. These results held for children from a range of backgrounds and after adjusting for a range of other risk factors.

PlayConnect evaluation: final report

Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, Playgroup Australia Inc.
Dickson, ACT : Playgroup Australia, 2020.
PlayConnect is a supported playgroup for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD-like characteristics. It is a free service that is available without a referral or diagnostic requirements, since this age-group often precedes a diagnosis, and, by July 2019, was funded by the Australian Government across 41 sites. This report evaluates the program and makes recommendations for development. It investigates program design and implementation, program outcomes, meeting community needs and key contractual outcomes, support of families and networking and referral opportunities, capacity to provide support, play opportunities for children, and the most positive and successful elements of the program for families. The evaluation found that PlayConnect is highly valued by participants and fills an important service gap for families. However, one particular challenge identified was engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse families.

The reach of playgroups and their benefit for children's development across Australia: a comparison of 2012, 2015, and 2018 AEDC data

Sincovich A, Harman-Smith Y and Brinkman S
Dickson, A.C.T. : Playgroup Australia, 2020
This report looks into recent trends in playgroup attendance in Australia and the association between attendance and children's early development. Using data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) for 2012, 2015 and 2018, it finds that attendance has grown in recent years, particularly among disadvantaged among communities. More than 1 in 3 children had attended a playgroup before starting school in 2018, though rates vary significantly between the states and territories and among different groups. Though attendance is lowest amongst children with an Aboriginal background or from a non-English speaking background, and is low for children living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, rates have increased over recent years. Children who did not attend playgroup had 1.71 times greater odds of being developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains of the AEDC. Children from remote areas were even more at risk: however, these children also had the highest rate of attendance. Variations were also noted in the relationship between playgroup and child development in the different states and territories, which warrants further investigation.

Defining therapeutic playgroups : key principles of therapeutic playgroups from the perspective of professionals.

Armstrong J, Elliott C, Wray J, Davidson E, Mizen J and Girdler S
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 29 2020: 1029-1043
This article looks at the key elements of therapeutic playgroups for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Drawing on focus groups with 40 playgroup facilitators, it seeks to define the key principles of therapeutic playgroups and the necessary 'active ingredients' which are needed for effectiveness. The findings highlight the distinct practice principles that characterise this form of intervention from other playgroups and other therapeutic models for these children and their families, and will help inform program development and evaluation.

Children and Mothers in Mind independent evaluation 2018-2019 participant and facilitator feedback: final report

Kertesz M, Ramamurthy A, Fogden L and Humphreys C
Thomastown, Vic. : Kids First, 2019.
'Children and Mothers in Mind' (CMiM) is a play-based group program designed for mothers and children under four years who have experienced trauma such as family violence, childhood abuse or sexual assault. It provides mothers with trauma-informed parenting information, peer support, and counselling to strengthen their parenting self-efficacy, self-care, self-compassion and stress management skills in relation to parenting. The program has been piloted in several metropolitan and regional sites across Victoria from 2017 to mid 2019, with 490 women and children commencing the program. This report evaluates the impact of the program on mothers' understanding about the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting and its effectiveness in improving mother-child relationships. Staff training, program implementation, and referral into and from the program are also considered. The evaluation involved interviews with program facilitators, managers and child workers, as well as mothers after program completion and again after 6 months. The evaluation found that the program is highly valued by participants and staff and has a positive impact on mothers and their parenting.

All ages play : intergenerational playgroups in residential aged care.

Stanley M, Allen P and Lawrence W
CFCA short article 3 Dec 2019
This article outlines the lessons learned from an intergenerational playgroup program in Queensland. A program was developed by Catholic Healthcare and Playgroup Queensland and trialled in an aged care service. Under the program, aged care residents engaged in a weekly playgroup with young children. An evaluation found many positive outcomes for the aged care residents and, after three years, it is still being regularly attended.

Independent cost benefit analysis of community playgroups: research summary

Daly A, Barrett G and Williams R
Dickson, ACT : Playgroup Australia, 2019.
This paper highlights the economic benefits of investing in community playgroups. It outlines the findings of economic modelling commissioned to investigate the costs and benefits arising from government investment in community playgroups. The analysis found that community playgroups deliver substantial long-term economic benefits and that those benefits exceed its costs, with community playgroups generating a benefit of $3.60 for every dollar of cost. This summary paper also explains the aims of community playgroups and their overall benefits for children and parents.

Early childhood, family support and health care services: an evidence review

Moore T
Parkville, Vic. : Centre for Community Child Heath, Royal Children's Hospital, 2019.
This report was commissioned to help inform the development of a new children's services policy in the City of Port Phillip in Victoria. The report summarises key evidence regarding the provision of early childhood education services, play groups, and access to toys, especially for children from vulnerable families. It looks into the nature and importance of the early years, factors that shape child and family functioning, and the evidence regarding early childhood and parenting services, including antenatal care, sustained nurse home visiting, parenting programs, and preschool education. It also considers whether to use a targeted or a universal approach, the value of integrated service systems, the importance of community engagement and co-production, and the value of early years investments. Though no local government can achieve an ideal 'blue sky' early childhood and family support system on their own, they are well-placed to be the lead player in such initiatives and the report concludes by highlighting the key actions that the City of Port Phillip should be considering.

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.

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.

Supporting parents' informed early childhood education and care choices through playgroups.

Stratigos T and Fenech M
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 43 no. 4 Dec 2018: 14-21
This article investigates whether playgroups can be used as a site to educate parents about quality early childhood education and care (ECEC). A study was conducted with 6 coordinators and 30 family members from supported and community playgroups in New South Wales, to explore if and how playgroups could be used to disseminate information to assist families in making more informed decisions about ECEC. The focus groups and interviews looked at where families seek information about ECEC, trust in the advice of coordinators, awareness of the National Quality Standard (NQS) rating system, concerns about cost, and strategies that playgroups could employ to disseminate information. The study found that the family members had little understanding of quality ECEC or the NQS ratings, and relied on word-of-mouth and personal recommendations from trusted sources - suggesting that playgroup coordinators could play a key role in helping families.

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 v. 18 no. 3 Apr 2017: 337-349
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).

Community playgroups: connecting rural families locally pilot project

McLearn K, Edwards S, Morris H, Hallowell L and Swinkels K
Brunswick, Vic. : Playgroup Victoria, 2016.
This report evaluates a project to improve awareness and use of community playgroups by families of young children in rural areas in Victoria. 'Playgroup development consultants' were established to build connections in their local communities with other service such as maternal and child health services, local government kindergartens, and Aboriginal services and enhance existing promotional efforts such as advocacy, networking, and relationship building. The evaluation found the consultants achieved their objective and recommends that the model be continued.

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.
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