Information support for grandparents

Raising Children Network offers information and support for grandparents who are full-time carers, as well as grandparents who look after their grandchildren from time to time.

Recognising that grandparents need extra support in connecting with services and reducing social isolation, Raising Children Network invited local grandparent and kinship carers to free local events in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and West Australia.

The events helped grandparents connect with other carers and local support services.

Go to the website for dedicated resources on grandparent, kinship and non-parent carers. 

Evaluating improvements in casework practice

An evaluation of Practice First, a major reform initiative in the New South Wales child welfare sector, has found that the model made a difference to organisational culture and casework practice.

Practice First was designed for statutory child protection work, ranging from assessment through to out-of-home care. The model incorporates strategies to strengthen caseworker skills and capability, and reduce administrative burden.

Caseworkers reported that spending more time with families aided assessment, decision making, and relationships with families. Practice First helped workers improve their engagement with children, carers and other agencies. It also strengthened the focus on child-centred practice. One parent receiving the service even noted: 'My case worker now is solution-focused and knows when to bring up issues'.

Commissioned by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), the evaluation was led by the Parenting Research Centre in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

‘The evaluation is critical to understanding how an innovative approach to child protection practice and reform can be improved,’ said Parenting Research Centre Director, Ms Annette Michaux.

‘A crucial factor in the successful implementation of new ways of working is combining practical lessons from service delivery systems with insights from community leaders and families. The evaluation suggests that the adaptive capacity of services can lead to improvements in practice and in staff satisfaction and turnover.’

The evaluation was conducted with 24 FACS Community Service Centres in New South Wales. There is evidence that some of the principles behind Practice First have started to influence practice in non‐Practice First sites. But as there are other reform initiatives in the state, it is difficult to separate out the effects of Practice First independently within this context. This presents an opportunity to further develop Practice First as a solid platform to implement evidence-based practice in child protection services.

Improving outcomes for children in out-of-home care

In an expanded trial of the Quality Assurance Framework for Out-of-Home Care, the Parenting Research Centre is helping three Family and Community Services offices on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales to trial the framework.

The approach focuses on using valid and reliable data to inform case planning and the provision of services to children and young people.

We are conducting the trial for the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services with their services in Kempsey, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. This work builds on the initial trial we began in September 2016 with Burrun Dalai Aboriginal Corporation, Mackillop Family Services and Key Assets Fostering.

The expanded trial includes tracking and monitoring case planning in order to enhance the wellbeing of children and young people in statutory out-of-home care. Identifying the impact of the framework on systems, processes and procedures will help the department implement the framework on a wider scale.

Information will be held centrally, via a Child Overview, giving caseworkers a more comprehensive picture of what is happening in a child’s life. This data will help guide practice and better identify specific areas of need. And it will provide a valid and reliable measure of outcomes for children and young people in statutory out-of-home care.

National workforce capacity building in children’s mental health

The Parenting Research Centre is delighted to be part of a major new program to support clinical and non-clinical professionals who work with children at risk of mental health difficulties.

The program has been funded by the Australian Government.

Emerging Minds will lead the partnership delivering the program, which also includes the Australian National University, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

'We are delighted to bring our experience working with families to the task of supporting professionals in improving mental health outcomes for children,' said Parenting Research Centre CEO, Mr Warren Cann.

'This project will drive systems change and transform workforce practices in order to make a lasting, tangible and positive impact on the lives of many children.

'Partnerships are the key to driving improvements in practice and we are delighted to be a partner in this game-changing project,' he said.

Read the media release issued by the Australian Government

Quality screen time

New articles on are now available to help families strike the right balance with screen time.

Screens are part of our daily lives: watching TV and DVDs, playing computer games, using tablets and smartphones. With some planning, parents, carers and educators can ensure children’s screen time is quality time. There are benefits and risks to using these devices, so a healthy family lifestyle can include limits on daily screen time.

Read more on screen time.