Good and innovative practice in service delivery to vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children

Good and innovative practice in service delivery to vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children

Elly Robinson, Debbie Scott, Veronica Meredith, Lalitha Nair and Daryl Higgins

CFCA Paper No. 9 — October 2012
Good and innovative practice in service delivery to vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children

This paper is an overview of an analysis of the Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Client Access Strategies (Access Strategies), a requirement of service providers funded by the Family Support Program (FSP). Organisations were asked to document and implement the steps they would take to improve service accessibility and responsiveness for vulnerable and disadvantaged families, including Indigenous families. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) was commissioned by Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to undertake a desktop analysis of available Access Strategy documents, in order to collate information on existing/current good or innovative practice utilised by organisations to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

Key messages

Strategies clearly demonstrated that organisations funded by the FSP were striving to meet the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged families. Variations between strategies existed largely in the degree to which organisations were able to be flexible and/or collaborative in their service delivery.

Offering existing programs/services to new client groups, new programs/services to existing client groups, or new programs/services to new groups was one way in which services were tailored to meet vulnerable families' needs. Several organisations also actively worked with other providers in their local area to prevent service duplication.

Thoughtful responses to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged families were evident in the majority of documents. Warm (and/or facilitated) referral was a common strategy within the documents to link families to helpful services, as was "no wrong door" policies and the use of soft entry points.

There was a great deal of willingness among providers to meet families where they were most comfortable via outreach services. These services took many forms, including actively attending places where vulnerable families and children would be, such as home visits, government services, public housing estates, parks and shopping centres.

Promotional strategies often considered factors, such as literacy issues, that were likely to either inhibit or increase the knowledge of vulnerable families about the service.

The use of technology to more effectively support vulnerable families and children is a growing area, particularly for those in rural and remote locations. This ranged from the use of social media and/or websites to provide general information to clients or to share information with other staff members, through to the proposed use of technology to conduct service delivery.

Organisations often needed to make an assessment about how to effectively balance service delivery options to address transport challenges, within the resources available.

Accessibility issues for vulnerable families were being regularly addressed by providers`, including affordability (via reduced or waived fees), physical accessibility (e.g., proximity to public transport, easy access for wheelchairs) and flexible hours.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Elly Robinson is Manager of the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Debbie Scott is a Research Fellow and Veronica Meredith and Lalitha Nair are Research Officers at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Daryl Higgins is Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The authors would like to thank Annette Gath, Annette Carse, Marian Esler, Margaret Anderson (FaHCSIA) and the State and Territory Contact Officers from FaHCSIA who assisted with the content of this paper.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 9
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2012.
20 pp.
ISSN: 
2200-4106
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-13-5

Publication meta

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