Review of intensive family service models for vulnerable families

The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) commissioned the Parenting Research Centre, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, to review the evidence for interventions suitable for families involved in the child welfare system.

We produced a report, entitled Review of the evidence for intensive family service models, completed in May 2015.

The review will help FACS understand which interventions have good evidence for supporting families with complex issues. This information will be crucial in the significant reform that FACS is undertaking in prevention, early intervention, intensive, and community programs. Families who can benefit from the reform have a range of identified vulnerabilities, such as substance misuse, mental health problems, maltreating behaviours, and exposure to domestic and family violence

Our findings are based on a number of modes of enquiry: search of four web-based clearinghouses; targeted search of academic databases; rigorous scheme to rank effectiveness.


We identified 45 interventions with evidence of effectiveness ranging from ‘Emerging’ to ‘Well Supported’ for improving child, parent, family or service system outcomes.

Two of the 45 interventions were rated Well Supported:

  • Nurse-Family Partnerships
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Eighteen interventions were rated Supported:

  • Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up
  • Be Proud! Be Responsible!
  • Coping Power
  • DARE To Be You
  • Early Risers “Skills for Success”
  • Healthy Families America (Home Visiting for Child Well-Being)
  • The Incredible Years
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy
  • Multisystemic Therapy
  • Multisystemic Therapy for Youth with Problem Sexual Behaviors
  • Management Training
  • ParentCORPS
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
  • Project Success
  • Project Towards no Drug Abuse
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Adolescents
  • SafeCare
  • Triple P – Standard and Enhanced

Intervention content

We found that the interventions more typically included content on:

  • parenting education or training or parenting skills
  • child/youth behavior, behaviour change and behaviour management
  • parent-child relationships, communication and interactions.

Next steps

This report will inform the FACS service reform and help the department develop interventions to support families involved in the child welfare system. More specifically, it will help FACS choose effective interventions to improve outcomes in families.

Go to the FACS website to download the report and appendices (listed in Research Papers section).