Quality Assurance Framework for out-of-home care in NSW

Together with the University of Melbourne, we recently prepared a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) setting out the safety, permanency and wellbeing outcomes that should be attended to for children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC).

The QAF was commissioned by the New South Wales (NSW) Government Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) as part of its suite of Safe Home for Life reforms designed to strengthen the child protection system.

The NSW Government recently made the QAF available for public consultation.

The QAF was developed to help agencies as they move towards regularly using reliable data to help them improve services offered to children and get a more accurate picture of how children and young people are faring.

Parenting Research Centre Director, Ms Annette Michaux, said the development of the QAF drew on a blend of research, practice and sector sources, and was adapted from a child wellbeing framework introduced in the US as part of a major federal reform of child welfare:

We conducted interviews with key stakeholders including the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian, NSW Ombudsman, FACS, peak organisations and NGO services. We also conducted a narrative review of the national and international literature on existing quality assurance frameworks in child welfare systems. And we drew on our project teams’ extensive content expertise and knowledge of the NSW child welfare system, including policies, procedures and reform efforts.

A literature review emphasised the dynamic and continuous process of quality improvement. And the consultations emphasised the need to complement, not duplicate, existing work, particularly in relation to the NSW OOHC accreditation standards and data collection systems.

“Agencies are certainly familiar with data collection and monitoring of the safety and permanency of children in their care, but processes for systematically monitoring the wellbeing of children are less common and will be a new area for most providers,” Ms Michaux said.

“Stakeholders expressed strong support for the development of a QAF and they gave us great insights into some of the opportunities and challenges of developing and implementing a QAF.”

Contact us if you would like to view the report.

Family-centred service delivery

Our work with the Victorian Government on the Streamlining Services initiative is now in progress. Using a family-centred, strengths-based approach, PRC-trained practitioners are helping vulnerable families and children, from antenatal to four years of age, reach their goals more effectively. To date we have trained 87 practitioners in the municipalities of Latrobe, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

We are implementing a service model called Team around the Child (TAC), a more integrated and collaborative approach. TAC puts the family at the centre of service delivery and brings together a range of professional services to help each family meet its goals. At this early stage in the project, most TAC meetings are taking place in formal settings such as Maternal and Child Health premises. But some meetings are conducted in the family home, providing a more personal service and avoiding the need for transport and child care.

Anecdotal reports from families are confirming that they feel more engaged and in control, and are reaching their goals in a shorter time. Professionals have also reported that they are building stronger links with other agencies and have a better understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.

An evaluation is currently underway and the next phase will involve finalising modes of data collection, continuing quality improvement, and gearing up to engage more families.

Read more about our project Streamlining Services.

SafeCare in NSW

The trial of the evidence-based SafeCare model is receiving positive feedback from the SafeCare international team and from home-visiting practitioners in New South Wales (NSW).

We are working closely with the SafeCare experts from the National SafeCare Training and Research Center (NSTRC) of Georgia State University, USA, to ensure the best level of support for the implementation of the model. SafeCare has been shown to significantly lower reports of child abuse and neglect in families where children are considered at risk of maltreatment.

The implementation of SafeCare is strengthened by our intermediary role. We are working with both local and central implementation teams to coordinate efforts with US SafeCare experts and to build accountable and responsible leadership. This effort equips practitioners to support parents in enhancing their interactions with children, keeping homes safe and improving child health.

This sense of cohesion has been made possible with an integrated effort from the many parties involved. This includes support from the New South Wales Government, commitment from the sites implementing SafeCare, and leadership from the Office of the Senior Practitioner of Family and Community Services (FACS) and regular contact from the PRC.

Our close contact with the implementation sites helps us work together to solve everyday problems on the ground.

Funding to train practitioners in SafeCare has been provided by the New South Wales FACS. The model is being implemented by practitioners from FACS in Batemans Bay and Penrith Community Service Centres, and from Wesley Mission’s Western Sydney Brighter Futures program.  

If you are interested in offering SafeCare in your organisation please contact the Parenting Research Centre.

Read more about SafeCare.

Like Father Like Son: survey

The University of NSW is inviting practitioners who deliver parenting programs to take part in a national survey exploring their experiences in working with fathers.

The findings of the survey, part of the Movember-funded Like Father Like Son project, will inform the development of online parenting support that aims to increase the participation of fathers in parenting programs, particularly fathers of children with behavioural problems, including tantrums, non-compliance, rule-breaking and aggression.

Who can take part?
Clinicians and practitioners in Australia who are delivering parenting programs or treatment for child conduct problems. Go to the survey now.

For more information please email Senior Project Leader Lucy Tully or phone (02) 9385 1697.