A review of the literature on key elements of effective organisational collaboration involving non-government organisations

Families and parenting, Collaboration, Interagency Collaboration, Literature Review

This review summarises key literature about organisational collaboration. It focuses on exploring the characteristics of successful collaboration (in the non-government sector and between peak bodies more specifically), how success is measured, and some of the associated challenges of this type of work. This literature review was undertaken as part of the Tri-Peaks Initiative which is a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW), Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VADA) and the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA).

The NSW Legislative Council has released a report on childhood overweight and obesity. It details the structural factors that help determine a child’s weight, and provides compelling recommendations related to urban planning, cost and accessibility of organised sport and food labelling.

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness

Families and parenting, Mental Health

Parental mental illness affects roughly 23% of Australian children. In light of this statistic, Response Ability has developed a fact sheet that outlines the ways in which parenting capacity may be impacted, and the social and emotional implications for children. The resource provides tips and guidelines for educators to help prevent children of parents with a mental illness from experiencing learning and development difficulties. Educators and teachers are identified as key contact points through which children and families can access mental health support.

Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour: Analysis of 2005–16

Early years, Families and parenting

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a report looking at Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour. It provides insights into viewing practices and habits of Australian children, and information about parental attitudes, including content concerns. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to monitor or limit their children’s viewing, as the number of media devices they have access to increase.

Contexts of disadvantage: Implications for child outcomes

Education, Disability, Families and parenting

This report uses data from the first five waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine the links between family, neighbourhood and school level disadvantage and children’s cognitive and social outcomes. It found that to experience any one of family, neighbourhood or school level disadvantage is detrimental to a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes. The LSAC data suggests that much of the association between disadvantage and child cognitive outcomes can be explained by the incidental influence of disadvantage on the home environment, especially on the amount of time and effort spent by parents on activities that stimulate children’s cognitive abilities.

COVID-19 Impact Report: Responding to the needs of children and families

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

This impact report from CFECFW is based on a review of data gathered by the CFECFW during the period March-June 2020, sometimes called the ‘first wave’ of the coronavirus in Victoria. During the four months covered by this report, CSOs across Victoria demonstrated their ability to respond quickly to the unprecedented challenges facing their clients and workers by implementing creative solutions and workarounds in the face of restrictions on face to face engagement. This report also highlights the challenges experienced by families and workers, the ‘pragmatic problem-solving’ of our CSOs as they transformed their service delivery models, and the lessons learned.

Do childhood experiences of parental separation lead to homelessness?

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Poverty

This Melbourne Institute paper examines the relationship between parental separation and homelessness using Journey’s Home (JH), a dataset of disadvantaged Australians. The study finds a substantial causal effect between parental separation and entry into homelessness, particularly if the separation occurred before the respondent was 12 years old. The findings suggest that adolescent girls are more robust to parental separations than adolescent boys and that the effects of parental separations are larger when the parents were formally married.

Does money affect children’s outcomes? An update

Families and parenting, low income

A report by the London School of Economics provides an update to Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? A Systematic Review (2013). It provides further supporting evidence that money in itself is important for children’s cognitive development, physical health and educational achievement, distinct from other factors such as parental education. The authors found that poorer children have worse outcomes in part because they are poor and not only because of other factors that are associated with low income. The study found that reducing income poverty and inequality is likely to have a significant impact on children’s environment and on their development.

A new report published by ANROWS examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. The report shows that emotional abuse is a serious issue in family breakdowns, and those women at the more extreme end of family violence are experiencing multiple and overlapping types of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The report also found a relationship between the presence of family violence and parenting capacity, satisfaction with parent-child relationships, and child wellbeing. The report concludes with key recommendations to improve policy and practice.

Estimation of National, Regional, and Global Prevalence of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Early years, Families and parenting, Alcohol and Other Drugs

This research project aimed to estimate the global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the general population. It finds that alcohol use during pregnancy is relatively common and that Europe has particularly high rates of women who consume alcohol during pregnancy, and consequently, the highest rate of FAS. The paper provides a discussion of the social and cultural factors that may influence the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy, and suggests that more effective prevention strategies be targeted towards particular at-risk populations.

Evidence and Innovation for Wellbeing in complex settings: Dr. Penny Hagen and Angie Tangaere

Families and parenting, Evidence Informed Practice, Conference presentation

OPEN organised this Knowledge Building Workshop led by Dr. Penny Hagen, from Auckland Co-design Lab and Angie Tangaere, The Southern Initiative, where they talked about privilege and power. Their approach encourages us to flip where the expertise lies and be social innovation agents who need to be ‘in service’ of the change that the families want.

Families in Australia Survey: Life During COVID-19

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

The AIFS Life during COVID-19 survey ran from May 1 to June 9 2020 and had 7,306 participants from around Australia. It was the first survey in the Families in Australia Survey series. The aim was to understand how Australian families coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest health, social and economic challenges in history. The findings in this report are drawn from our first analyses of the survey data. Later reports will add to, and expand on, these findings.

The most recent issue of Family Matters presents a range of articles based on research presented at the AIFS Conference 2016: “Research to Results – Using evidence to improve outcomes for families”. The collection of articles discuss how evidence is being used to inform practice in the current policy and program context, and the importance of quality research to improving the lives of children and family members. Authors explore research in areas of school achievement, Indigenous program evaluation and supported playgroups for vulnerable young families, among others.

Fathers who use violence: Options for safe practice where there is ongoing contact with children

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

In situations of family violence, women and children are not always in a position to separate from an abusive partner. Separation itself may cause increased violence, homelessness or poverty. This paper explores strategies for working with families where fathers who use violence continue to have contact with the children. Whole of family approaches that engage each member of the family are discussed as having an important role to play in promoting the wellbeing and safety of all involved.

These publications from the Department of Health and Human Services share the complexities of work with children, youth and families and some of the innovative practice approaches being used to address them. This is an annual publication shining a spotlight on examples of good practice and the variety of practice approaches available.

Identifying early intervention and prevention pathways for child protection concerns raised in pregnancy

Families and parenting, Report

This research project seeks to understand the concerns and identify the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect during pregnancy. It highlights two clear target groups for child abuse prevention and early intervention efforts in pregnancy: first time parents who have their own histories of abuse or neglect as children; and parents who had at least one child who was known to child protection. These families have the most to gain from early intervention and prevention efforts.

Identifying the key components of a ‘whole family’ intervention for families experiencing domestic violence and abuse

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

This article in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence outlines the shift in knowledge and practice that is driving new approaches to domestic violence and abuse. As the name implies, whole family approaches aim to engage with all family members living with domestic violence rather than focusing only on women as victims. This article describes findings from an evaluation of a pilot in one town in Northern England over 18 months. The pilot shows how, in a children’s social care setting, where additional resources and organisational support are made available, practice can be shifted away from a blaming approach to one that emphasises the potential for recovery and change for all family members. The article is available free of charge until the end of June.

This collection of infographics published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features accessible infographics accompanied by explanations and links to further resources. These resources will be particularly relevant to practitioners working directly with families and children, as they explain a number of related concepts- including toxic stress, executive function and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). These infographics can help you identify how these issues might be effecting families, and some approaches you might use to improve their outcomes.

Inter-parental relationships, conflict and the impacts of poverty

Families and parenting, Poverty

The Early Intervention Foundation has published research exploring the role of parental relationships in families experiencing poverty. The study looks at 13 interventions across the UK aimed at addressing inter-parental conflict to improve child outcomes. It highlights the greater psychological stress that can be experienced by families under economic stress or in poverty, and how this can affect long term outcomes for children. The report argues that embedding relationship support in mainstream services, such as children’s centres or within early intervention systems, has the potential to improve access for families who could benefit most from these interventions.

Kids and food: Challenges families face

Families and parenting, Report

The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll has surveyed a sample of 1980 parents of children aged 0-18 years. The findings show that many Australian parents struggle to make healthy food choices for their children for a range of reasons. Many parents find it difficult to know which foods are healthy, particularly when it comes to added sugar. Other barriers to healthy eating habits include preparation time and cost. Parents could benefit from additional resources to help them in making healthy and cost effective meals for their families.

Many fathers are working long hours and have schedules that are not family-friendly. This research summary presents Australian children's views of their fathers' work and family time, including how much time they get to spend with their dad and whether they enjoy the time they spend together. The study showed that 35% of children considered that their father works too much.

Maternal age and family circumstances of firstborn children

Early years, Families and parenting

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Annual Statistical Report investigates whether maternal age influences the financial and parenting experiences of the family across the child’s first 10 years of life. Women having their first child in their early 20s or teenage years were more likely than those having their first child later in life, to experience disadvantage. Areas of increased disadvantage included living without a partner, low income and a higher chance of unemployment.

Measuring Success in the Family and Relationship Sector for the Wellbeing of Children, Families and Communities

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This E-journal of peer-reviewed papers from the annual Family Relationships and Services Australia (FRSA) National Conference presents five articles on a wide range of concepts that influence ‘success’ in the family sector, and how these might be better measured. The first two papers focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, the third on the first 1000 days, the fourth on relationship breakdown and the fifth on workforce preparedness in the sector.

Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) Pilot: Evaluation report

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This report presents findings from an evaluation of the Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) pilot, an emerging multi-disciplinary approach to responding to children and families affected by abuse in Western Australia. The approach aims to provide a holistic response to allegations of severe child abuse. It includes bringing multidisciplinary teams together in local communities in a more effective way, and timely connection of children and families to support services. The study shows that the co-location of child abuse interviewers, child protection officers, child advocates and therapeutic services within a child friendly setting had significant benefits for children and families.

Multimedia Resources for Child Development

Families and parenting, Video, Database

This collection of multimedia resources published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features short, accessible videos that explore how to support children's development. These videos will be particularly relevant to practitioners working directly with families, as they cover various methods and tools for building parental capacity and promoting children's wellbeing and learning, including through the use of evidence based programs.

NHMRC report on the evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life

Early years, Families and parenting, Mental Health

The National Health and Medical Research Council presents an analysis of the programs and services offered to parents of young babies, provided in pregnancy or the first year of life. The paper is particularly interested in those interventions that influence infant social and emotional wellbeing. The report claims that education and support programs for parents, and programs, designed to foster a healthy bond between baby and parent, have shown encouraging results. However, there is need for further research to identify which programs are most effective in giving babies the best start in their emotional and social life.

Parent and Family Engagement: An Implementation Guide for School Communities

Education, Families and parenting, Client Engagement, Handbook

This guide from ARACY gives practical guidance on how school communities can design and implement successful parent and family engagement practices. It draws from a wide body of research to provide evidence and examples of how you can make parent and family engagement relevant to your school and community.

Parenting Orders: What you need to know

Families and parenting, Handbook

This publication has been prepared by the Attorney-General's Department as a practical resource to assist parents with drafting parenting orders. It will also be helpful to people assisting parents, including legal practitioners, counsellors, and mediators. Importantly, it will help people produce clearly written parenting orders that are made with the best interests of the child at the centre.

Power Struggles: Everyday battles to stay connected

Families and parenting, Mental Health

The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) has released a report highlighting the daily struggles that Australian families living on low-incomes are facing in order to pay their electricity bills. Real life stories are presented in this report, drawing on interviews with 10 Victorian households. VCOSS makes several policy recommendations based on the findings of the research.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Effectiveness outcomes for young children and mothers in an intensive service for vulnerable families

Early years, Families and parenting, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Renee O'Donnell (Monash University) and Andrea Dunbar (MacKillop Family Services) discussed their evaluation of the Cradle to Kinder program in three locations across Victoria. Cradle to Kinder is an intensive maternal support program for disadvantaged young mothers (under 25 years), designed to support positive parenting and improve child safety and developmental outcomes in families where there is an elevated risk of child removal.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Taking research evidence from one complex system to another

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Conference presentation

In this keynote address, Eileen Munro (Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics) discusses the challenges of translating research evidence from one system to another - with particular reference to her work in reviewing child protection practices in English local authorities.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Caring Life: technology solution for creating life stories

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Conference presentation

Jonathan Finch, Anthony Denahy and Emma Stirling (OzChild) discuss the development of CaringLife: an online platform and app that provides a private, safe and secure system for agencies, carers and children to upload photos, videos and important mementos during a child’s time in out-of-home care that are stored securely in perpetuity and can follow them throughout their care journey. The Pilot Program has demonstrated high levels of engagement and has been evaluated as having significant therapeutic and identity benefits.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Family engagement using social media

Families and parenting, Client Engagement, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Casey Hepburn and Jenny Fairbairn from the Queen Elizabeth Centre (QEC) discussed their design and implementation of a new Client Engagement Framework. The new Framework focuses on using social media to engage clients and involved three components: QEC Video Stories, a Client Online Panel and a Client Advisory Group.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The STACY project: Keeping children visible working with parental mental health and substance misuse in the context of family violence

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Mental Health, Conference presentation

Lucy Healey (University of Melbourne) and Rosie Carr (Uniting ReGen) discuss The STACY Project, which focuses on improving collaborative working with families living with family violence, where children’s wellbeing is impacted by intersecting parental issues of mental health and substance misuse. It utilises the Safe & Together™ Model to work with all family members, including child and adult victim/survivors and perpetrators. This project revealed the challenge of keeping the focus of care on both the children’s needs and on the family violence occurring.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Who is Casey Jones? Engaging children in problem solving

Families and parenting, Client Engagement, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Casey Howden (Kids First) explores how to bring children to the centre of our work. By using a strengths-based, child-centred approach, children can tell us who they are – and how we can partner with them to achieve positive outcomes. So, who is Casey Jones? Casey Jones is the name of a child’s favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and the bridge that enabled practitioners to join with this child and his mother. Casey Jones sparked a positive transition by shifting the focus from what might fail, to what might work.

In this ‘Kids Count’ policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race and immigration. It explores the significant barriers facing children in immigrant families, and offers recommendations to help children in immigrant families gain the stability, economic resources and opportunities they need to thrive. The 2017 policy report considers the early care and education needs of children in immigrant families, and the importance of keeping the family together.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants and the experience of parenthood: A synthesis of the qualitative literature

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Families and parenting, Literature Review

This paper draws together the current qualitative literature describing the parenting experiences of refugees, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. Three themes emerged from the literature: experiencing hardship or loss; building resilience and strength: and living transnationally. Transnational parenting is a relatively new concept, and introduces issues such as family separation and reunification and forging an international family identity. Transnational identity can also afford families additional resources. Overall, the review shows how stress related to migration and resettlement can compound the responsibilities related to parenthood.

Risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This paper provides an overview of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect in families. It includes a comprehensive list of common risk and protective factors. The resource is designed for practitioners and policy-makers who work in the areas of child maltreatment. Identification of risk and protective factors can be used develop targeted approaches to reducing child abuse and neglect, and to inform direct intervention in cases where children are at risk of harm.

State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action

Families and parenting

MenCare has launched the 2017 State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action report. The report draws from nearly 100 research studies from across the globe, to uncover those factors that have delayed progress toward global gender equality. The report is a global call to action, asking every country to set a national goal of men and boys completing half of the unpaid care work.

Strengthening prevention and early intervention services for families into the future

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This report prepared by Deakin University and Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) investigates the potential of the family and relationships sector to take a stronger prevention and early intervention approach. Substance abuse and antisocial behaviour were among the eight priority health and social problems identified as potentially preventable through the delivery of family and relationship services. The report recommends a national action plan to increase prevention and early intervention service delivery.

This Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice issue explores the challenges faced by refugee families living in Australia and the formal supports that are available to them. The paper draws on in-depth interviews with families from a refugee background, and a national survey of government funded service providers supporting refugee families. It paints a picture of the networks, relationships and resources used by refugee families and the implications for policy and service delivery. Connecting children and young people, building culturally safe services and communication across service sectors are among some of the recommendations made.

Supporting the Roadmap for Reform: Evidence-Informed Practice

Families and parenting, Report

This report gives an overview of evidence informed practice to facilitate a shift from outputs to outcomes based service delivery. It examines the sources of evidence-informed practice and provides a methodology for developing a Menu of evidence-informed practices and programs.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey

Families and parenting

The latest report of the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey has been released by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The annual report explores seven topics: family life; economic wellbeing; labour market outcomes; retirement; gambling; young home-owners and; attitudes to marriage, parenting and work. The longitudinal study aims to tell the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Among other findings, the cost of childcare was shown to have a profound impact on families in recent years, with costs increasing by 104 per cent for single income families and 75 per cent for couples since 2002.

Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania

Families and parenting, Young People

This report from the Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare Tasmania, explores young people’s high level of vulnerability as a key social justice issue facing Tasmania. Drawing on the narratives of young people, service providers and government services, this paper brings to the fore the experiences of young people (10-17 years old) who have lived through extreme hardship, unstable home lives and complex trauma. The report includes recommendations for key changes to how the experiences and needs of young people are both represented and responded to.