Children’s social care innovation programme: Final evaluation report

Mental Health, Evaluation, Report

The UK Department for Education has published an overview of the evaluation of the children’s social care innovation program in England 2014 to 2016. The report includes findings from project evaluations that show reductions in children entering care, children living in residential care and increased reunification with birth families. From these evaluations, a number of recommendations for best practice emerge, including the adoption of a family focused, strengths-based approach that supports families to take responsibility for their own lives; multi-professional teams including workers in family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol; and a ‘key worker’ to provide consistency.

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.

Children’s voices in a changing world: 2021 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador report

Report, Children, COVID-19, Research, Data, Report

UNICEF Australia has released this report sharing the findings of the third phase of research into children and young people’s lived experience through the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The report found that young people aged 13-17 years view climate change and unemployment and limited job prospects as the greatest threats to the future wellbeing and livelihood of children and young people in Australia. The report includes a platform for action that calls on government to respond to the concerns of young people.

Evaluate

Clear Horizon – Resources

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

Clear Horizon offers a range of tools and resources specific to monitoring and evaluation to measure the impact and achievement of project outcomes. These include the Most Significant Change Technique and Collaborative Outcomes Reporting.

Clinical, financial and social impacts of COVID-19 and their associations with mental health for mothers and children experiencing adversity in Australia

Mental Health, COVID-19, Maternal and Child Wellbeing, Report, Case Study

This multi-authored article, published in PLOS One, examines families’ experiences of COVID-19 impacts and the associations between COVID-19 impacts and maternal and child mental health. The authors surveyed 319 mothers from Victoria and Tasmania who had experienced adversity during pregnancy in 2013-14, and found high rates of self-quarantine, job or income loss, family stress and difficulty managing home learning. Poorer mental health for mothers and children was found to be associated with self-quarantine, financial hardship and family stress.

Closing the Gap: Prime Minister’s Report 2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Report

The Prime Minister has delivered the ninth annual report addressing the Closing the Gap targets. The report recognises that changes are on the way; however, Australia is failing on six out of seven key measures. A new target for Indigenous 4 year olds enrolled in early childhood education is 95 per cent by 2025. The data shows that in 2015, 87% of all Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school. Though improvements have been made in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students, this target is not on track. Last year, 640 more children needed to read at the Year 3 benchmark to halve the gap. We must look at the evidence to find effective solutions and focus on empowering and building the capacity of local communities.

Clusters of COVID-19 impact: Identifying the impact of COVID-19 on young Australians in 2021

Education, Mental Health, COVID-19, Adolescents, Housing, Policy, Recommendations, Health and Wellbeing

This collaborative piece by Orygen and Mission Australia presents the findings of a 2021 survey of Australians aged 15 to 19 years. The study identifies aspects of their lives that were most negatively impacted by lockdowns and the groups who were most affected by COVID-19 and associated lockdowns. The study also makes recommendations for policy and practice.

Co-constructing Who Am I? Ensuring the voice of the child or young person is at the heart of ‘the record’

Early years, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Client Engagement, Evidence Informed Practice, Children, Report

This discussion paper talks about the value of developing a coherent, manageable and principled practice framework for co-constructing the child’s personal life story archive. It also includes considerations around trauma, record-keeping, confidentiality,and information technology. Systems and collaborations are essential to translate this into practice.

Monash University’s Gender and Family Violence Program has produced a research brief on the topic of coercive control. This briefing paper brings together research regarding coercive control to support prevention and intervention efforts. Coercive control is understood as a gendered pattern of behaviour using the tactics of intimidation, control and degradation to take away the victim’s freedom. This paper offers brief recommendations for practice as these relate to police and criminal justice responses.

This brief article outlines how co-design and collaboration shapes the work of the Healing Foundation. It explores how concepts of collaboration and co-design fit with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and provides a list of further resources for those who want to know more about best practice in this area.

Collective impact: Evidence and implications for practice

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This paper explores the collective impact framework and its ability to create transformational change on complex social issues. It provides an overview of the development of collective impact in Australia, drawing on case studies to demonstrate the promise of place-based, collaborative initiatives. The collective impact framework has resonated with practitioners and communities both in Australia and abroad, however, the evidence base for collective impact is still growing.

Commissioning cost-effective services for promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

A report released by Public Health England looks at mental health intervention models and programs, and their associated costs and benefits. The interventions considered include school based programs to prevent bullying and those aimed at preventing depression in children and young people. One program examined was the KiVA program, a school-based anti-bullying program used in the majority of schools in Finland. The program was found to be particularly effective in reducing cyber bullying.

Community Based Prevention of Violence Against Women and Their Children: A Toolkit for Practitioners

Family Violence

Ourwatch has launched an evidence-based toolkit for practitioners and community service organisations to engage their community to prevent violence against women. It addresses the gendered drivers of violence against women and provides a suite of strategies to help practitioners respond to them. The toolkit encourages a tailored approach to prevention that is community driven and specific.

Community schools: An evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement

Education, Evidence Informed Practice

A recent review of research studies and evaluations has shown that community schools can be successful in improving school outcomes and childhood learning. This is found to be particularly true in schools with a high level of poverty. This brief, prepared by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center, highlights the benefits of community schools partnering with local agencies and government to provide an integrated and holistic approach to academics, health and community development.

Comparative perspectives on family day care: Structure, regulation and research gaps

Education, Early years, Collaboration

Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre to examine the regulations and funding processes surrounding family day care in New Zealand and the UK. By examining international examples of funding and regulation for ECEC, Australia can gain insight into how it can design its own family day care services to be more flexible and of a higher quality. The report notes a lack of information available about the kinds of integrated and innovative practices currently in place in Australia. In light of this, the report proposes a research agenda for Australian family day care.

Compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders: Views of professionals and judicial officers

Families and parenting, Report, Case Study, Report, Case Study

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released this report examining the factors that influence non-compliance with parenting orders. The report contains findings from the first of a four-part research program and draws on the survey responses of 343 professionals who work with separated parents and interviews with judicial officers. A key finding was that non-compliance arises from a complex range of factors including family violence and safety concerns, child-related issues, circumstances where parents’ behaviour is seen as particularly difficult, orders that are seen as unworkable, and the existence of a contravention regime that is widely regarded as ineffective.

Concepts of community: Young people’s concerns, views and experiences

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, low income

This report presents the findings from Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2016 with respondents grouped according to whether they lived in low, moderate or high socio‐economic status (SES) areas across Australia. The report compares the views and experiences of young people from the three SES areas in relation to selected topics. The three most principal issues identified in the survey were alcohol and drugs (24.5%), equity and discrimination (23.2%), and mental health (17.6%). The findings of the survey can inform the development of policies and programs for young people, especially those from low SES areas.

Connections Activity – Hope-filled Engagement Tool

Young People, Client Engagement, Tool/toolkit

In this activity young people are encouraged to fill in the page with words or pictures identifying different points of connection at various levels. This will open up conversations about a young person’s place in the world and encourage them to see themselves as one part of a connected network of support. If a young person doesn’t have strong connections in “Family”, they may be led to see that they do have connections elsewhere – perhaps via a connection to nature, culture, or a particular worker or friend.

Considering culture: Building the best evidence-based practices for children of color

Education, Evidence Informed Practice

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has produced a case study that examines the role of culture in establishing effective, evidence-based programs in African-American communities. The report suggests ways in which organisations can apply evidence-based practices and introduce innovative approaches and programs that respond to the needs of African-Americans. It emphasises that programs which are effective for one group might not be so for another. Success is dependent upon having a strong understanding of the unique cultural environment and on incorporating this understanding into the design and implementation stages of a program. This will also support community buy-in at the early stages of a community program or intervention.

Consultations with young people to inform the eSafety Commissioner’s Engagement Strategy for Young People: A report on the findings

Education, Young People, Report, Children, Online Safety, Report

Western Sydney University has released this report outlining young people’s insights and recommendations about online safety to inform the eSafety Commissioner’s messaging, resources and ongoing engagement with children and young people. The report was developed using youth-centred, participatory co-research and codesign methods. Key concerns raised by young people in the research included privacy issues, security issues and managing online interactions with others.

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.

Core care conditions for children and families: Implications for integrated child and family services

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Research, Report

This report from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute reviews the evidence on the core needs of children and families, the conditions required for parents to meet these needs, and how well these needs are being met. The research then integrates these findings into a framework that can be used to inform service delivery.

Core components of public health approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect

Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Child maltreatment, Abuse, Intervention programs, Child Abuse

This chapter is part of a larger work on child maltreatment and takes a prevention-focused approach to child abuse and neglect by drawing on lessons from the public health sector. The authors argue that a public health approach can help refocus attention on the structural forces affecting families and improving safety and wellbeing outcomes for children.

This resource sheet is designed to inform service providers and practitioners about corporal punishment research and legislation. It outlines recent research literature (from 2000 to 2016) and discusses the use and impact of corporal punishment on children. It explores the factors that influence the use of corporal punishment and provides a summary of alternative disciplinary techniques. Finally, it summarises current legislation regarding the use of corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children in Australia.

WEstjustice has launched their 'Couch Surfing Limbo' report which explores the challenges faced by young couch surfers. Common challenges experienced by this group include exploitation, abuse, and the complexities of navigating a predominantly adult homelessness service system. The report also provides insight into the issues faced by couch providers – the informal carers that look after young couch surfers in their homes.

Counting the cost to families: Assessing childcare affordability in Australia

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Data, Report

This report from the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University reviews the available data on expenditure and affordability of childcare in Australia and analyses this to determine how much families are spending. The report finds that childcare is unaffordable for around 386,000 Australian families.

Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education

Education

This Mitchell Institute report estimates the economic and social costs linked to early school leaving and not being actively engaged in work and study in the year after completing Year 12. The costs related to disconnection from education affect not only career aspirations, prospects and income, but also influences decision-making in relation to parenting, health and citizenship. The cost to taxpayers of having 38,000 19-year-olds – about one in four – not achieving their Year 12 certificate is estimated to be $315 million each year and more than $12.6 billion across a lifetime.

Covid-19 and early intervention: Evidence, challenges and risks relating to virtual and digital delivery

Technology, COVID-19, Report

This report from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) sets out the evidence on virtual and digital delivery of interventions across a range of relevant domains, highlights the challenges and risks associated with remote delivery methods, and provides the findings from an EIF survey asking intervention developers and providers about their response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is intended to support the sector as it rapidly adapts to the constraints on delivery imposed by widespread social distancing and lockdown.

COVID-19 community sector impact survey

COVID-19, Report

This report from Our Community draws on survey data from 2020 and 2021 to investigate what was happening for the Australian community sector during the pandemic. The study found that while demand decreased in the early period of the pandemic, services are now experiencing increased demand, particularly in the areas of family violence, homelessness, food relief and childcare services.

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.

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Engagement Professionals

Client Engagement, COVID-19, Database

This collection of articles and presentations from the International Association for Public Participation provide advice and strategies for engaging the community during COVID-19. It focuses particularly on how to use digital methods of engagement in place of face to face contact, which may be useful for those who are wanting to collect data or conduct interviews during this period, as well as those seeking more general advice on how to maintain safe and connected service delivery.

CREATE has produced a Position Paper on Transitioning from Care, calling for governments to listen to young people about their care experiences and their suggestions for improvement. It presents data from a range of sources that illustrate the experiences of young people transitioning from care, their life outcomes and the effectiveness of targeted services for these young people, such as the Go your Own Way project.

Creating Engaging Schools for all Children and Young People: What Works

Education

This VCOSS report aims to improve school and student engagement in Victoria. It presents a number of successful examples of engaging schools, and offers seven ‘principles of school engagement’ that can help create an engaging and supportive school culture. Along with school specific examples of good practice in Victoria, the report also acknowledges the system-wide changes needed to support an engaging and inclusive school environment.

Creating Learning Environments for Youth – Introduction

Evaluation, Young People, Video

Watch Dr. Kim Sabo Flores, a youth participatory evaluation expert based in the US, talking about the need to create environments which ignite learning and development in young people.

Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues

Family Violence, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Report, Child Protection, Report

This report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) explores the occurrence, overlap or interrelationships between domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues and mental health issues in Australian families involved in the child protection system. A critical interpretive synthesis of the academic and grey literature found significant weaknesses in the evidence base. The study concluded that further research is needed to understand these interactions in the Australian context.

Crossover Children: Examining Initial Criminal Justice System Contact Among Child Protection- Involved Youth

Youth Justice, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This article is part of a series of reports and articles seeking to understand the circumstances that lead to children and young people becoming ‘cross-over kids’; involved in both the child protection and criminal justice systems. It looks at cross-over children’s initial charges.

Evaluators may come across situations where they have to work in a cultural context other than of their own. Culturally competent evaluators not only respect the cultures represented in the evaluation but recognize their own ‘culturally based assumptions’; take into account the ‘differing world view of evaluation stakeholders and target communities’ and select culturally appropriate evaluation options and strategies.

Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This article examines the prevalence of traditional bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents in England, and assesses its relative effects on mental well-being. The research finds that face-to-face bullying remains most common among teenagers, and that cyberbullying is unlikely to provide a source for new victims. Rather, it is a new avenue for victimisation for those already experiencing traditional forms of bullying.

Data snapshot – Child witnesses of family violence: An examination of Victoria Police family violence data

Family Violence, Young People, Children

This report from the Crime Statistics Agency examines the prevalence and outcomes of witnessing family violence for children aged 0-17 in Victoria. It found that over a five-year-period in Victoria, 109,356 family violence incidents occurred with at least one child witness present. Of those child witnesses, over two-thirds were aged 9 years or younger. In 2018-19, over a third of incidents took place in the lowest ranking socio-economic areas in Victoria.

Dead ends: How our social security system is failing people with partial capacity to work

Disability, Employment, Report

This report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Western Sydney University examines the development of the partial capacity to work classification and its impact on the lives of individuals and their households. The report finds that the partial capacity to work category is failing many people experiencing vulnerability, necessitating urgent reform, and contains eight recommendations for change.

Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia?

Report, Child Care, Report

The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University has released this report investigating access to centre-based day care in Australia. The study used spatial measurement techniques to map the supply of childcare and compared this to demand across most parts of Australia. It found that 35.2 per cent of the population live in neighbourhoods with the scarcest childcare availability, and these neighbourhoods tend to have greater relative disadvantage or a higher population of culturally and linguistically diverse people.

Developing holistic integrated early learning services for young children and families experiencing socio-economic vulnerability

Evidence-Based Program, Report, Children, Research, Family Services, Report

The Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has released this report investigating the role that integrated child and family centres play in meeting the needs of children and families and reviewing what has been learned about the key elements of effective services for families experiencing vulnerability. The research identifies the core features of integrated child and family centres and examines how each element can be implemented effectively.

This overview from Better Evaluation looks at the basics of Developmental Evaluation. Developmental Evaluation is an approach that can be used effectively when there is no clear model to evaluate due to a complex and dynamic environment - such as a global health emergency like COVID-19. This resource outlines the basics of this approach and how it can be utilised to develop a continuous improvement loop that supports innovation and adaptation in a changing environment.

Developments to strengthen systems for child protection across Australia

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This Australian Institute of family studies (AIFS) paper outlines the latest changes within Australian child protection systems. It draws on a survey completed by child protection departments across Australia on change and reform planned or underway since July 2010.The key challenges faced by Australia’s child protection system include insufficient capacity to meet the quantity and complexity of cases in statutory child protection and out-of-home care (OOHC), failure to improve outcomes for children in OOHC and the over-representation of Aboriginal children in statutory child protection and OOHC.

Evaluate

DHHS Centre for Evaluation and Research – Evaluation Guide

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

This guide from the Department of Health and Human Services (2017) is designed to support staff in the planning and commissioning of an evaluation. It is suitable for anyone responsible for program development, implementation or evaluation.

Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning

Education

The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology has published a US study documenting the benefits of ‘academic’ preschool programs that emphasise language, pre-literacy and math concepts. The benefits were sustained throughout kindergarten, and were especially strong for African-American children attending at least 20 hours per week. This study offers important insights into the ideal amount of time spent in preschool, and the types of classroom activities that may support cognitive development.

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.