Guidelines for submitting your own program

Rather than choosing an existing program, Communities for Children Facilitating Partners can meet the 50% evidence-based program requirement by having a program assessed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) as a promising program or emerging program. Promising programs must meet a range of quality criteria. Emerging programs don’t meet all the criteria yet, but are on the way to meeting them in the near future.

Facilitating Partners: if you plan to have a program assessed as promising or emerging, contact us so we can guide you through the process. You should also discuss your plans with your Funding Arrangement Manager.

Community Partners: if you would like to have a program assessed it must be submitted by a Facilitating Partner.

Promising programs

Promising programs must meet the following 5 criteria, representing minimum standards for a quality program:

  1. A program must have a documented theoretical and/or research background.
  2. A program must have a clear theory of change (e.g. program logic), which reflects good practice both in terms of logical pathways from activities to outcomes and in meeting the needs of the intended target group.
  3. The activities undertaken in the program are documented, and activities generally match good practice in addressing the needs of the target group.
  4. One or more evaluations of the program have been conducted (with a minimum total of 20 participants) that establishes the program as having positive benefits for the target group, with at least pre-AND post-testing of participant outcomes (ideally with a validated outcomes measurement tool), and a report is available.
  5. Staff members that run the program are sufficiently qualified and/or trained.

If you decide to submit a program for assessment as a promising program, you can use this template (or use your own format):

You can find useful resources in our Program planning and evaluation guide, especially:

Once you are ready to submit your program, complete the Program submission form. If you are a community partner, your facilitating partner must submit the form on your behalf.

See a list of promising programs submitted for approval.

Documentation required for a promising program submission

Program documentation should provide clear information about the fundamental elements of the program, creating a common understanding of the program for everyone involved. Documentation needs to be in a written format.

You can have one document that covers all criteria, or a number of documents. For example, you may have one document about the program evaluation and another that covers the other criteria.

Examples of documentation include:

  • a full program manual

  • a training manual developed for the program

  • practice guidelines

  • session outlines

  • activity worksheets

  • handouts, “homework” or other resources for use with clients.

Definition of “documented theoretical and/or research background”

Evidence-based programs are based on published theories and/or research. To meet the requirements for a promising program, you must show that the program does one or both of the following:

  • draws on commonly understood principles from a theoretical framework

  • reflects a broad evidence base about what works with your target group.

If you draw on a theoretical framework, that framework must:

  • describe the relationship between activities and outcomes

  • be empirically tested

  • be generally accepted in social science literature as having an evidence base.

Examples of theoretical frameworks are:

  • attachment theory

  • cognitive behavioural theories

  • ecological model

  • social learning approaches.

Emerging programs

Emerging programs don’t yet meet the 5 criteria for promising programs, but are on the way to meeting them. By having a program assessed as emerging, you get helpful feedback about the areas you need to work on. Once you have addressed those areas, your program’s status can change from emerging to promising.

The original deadline for emerging programs to be approved as promising programs was 30 June 2018. However, we can still assess new applications for emerging programs in some situations. If you want to submit a program for assessment as an emerging program, contact us.

To show that they are on the way to meeting the 5 criteria, emerging programs must have:

  • A clear theory of change (for example, a program logic) that reflects good practice both in terms of logical pathways from activities to outcomes and in meeting the needs of the intended target group.

  • An evaluation plan and timeline (as a minimum – completed evaluations can also be submitted for assessment).

You can use our guides and templates to develop a program logic and evaluation plan:

Once you have discussed your submission with us and are ready to submit your program, complete the Program submission form. If you are a community partner, your facilitating partner must submit the form on your behalf.

Assessment process

After you submit your program and documentation, AIFS researchers will assess it. We will let you know what the outcome is and give you feedback in about 4 to 6 weeks. Possible outcomes are:

  • The program meets the criteria for a promising program.

  • The program meets the criteria for an emerging program.

  • The program meets the criteria for a promising program, and meets the additional criteria to be included in the published List of evidence-based programs.

  • The program does not currently meet the criteria for a promising or emerging program, and thus can’t be included in the 50% requirement.

If your program doesn’t meet the criteria, we will give you detailed feedback. Once you have addressed the feedback, you can re-submit the program.

Community development style activities

Modified program criteria are available for community development style activities. Contact us for more information.

Already meeting the 50% requirement

If you are already meeting the 50% evidence-based program requirement, you may still submit programs for assessment as promising programs (not emerging programs).

However, AIFS' priority is assessing programs for Facilitating Partners which are not meeting the 50% requirement. Contact us before you start the submission process to find out about expected timelines.

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