Cathie manages Anglicare Victoria’s Southern Regional Parenting Service – Parentzone. She has twenty five years’ experience in delivery and management across community and universal settings. Either the focus of the work has been on children’s issues as they relate to education or life/family transitions.
Cathie’s drive to ensure the work produced positive outcomes required undertaking program design, evaluation and research to build the evidence of what works, in what circumstance and for whom.
‘Parents Building Solutions’ (PBS) a modular based program had been developed over a ten year period, initially to provide flexibility for practitioners undertaking group work with parents of children from birth to 18 years of age, across all child development stages, family circumstance for those who simply wanted to improve their parenting, as well as targeted programs such as parenting after separation, post family violence, parenting in Australia (for those emigrating or seeking refuge) etc. All programs collect pre, post and follow up feedback to ensure quality, satisfaction and measure the impact of the intervention, whilst also informing continuous improvement. In today’s global environment, we needed to ask ourselves, ‘is that enough’?
In our role as practitioners our focus on practice falls within legislative and funding requirements. Through effective engagement of increasingly more complex families, practitioners draw on evidence in order to align tested theories and using a variety of tools, assist families to undertake change in order to meet the families own goals or address issues identified or imposed by others, i.e. mandated clients.
Practitioners reflect on their work and record actions and results in case notes and group files. However, it is no longer enough to measure satisfaction, or respectful interactions. It has become essential to identify outcomes of the intervention that are measureable, that indicate improved well-being. Irrespective of the type of service provided, such as one to one counselling, family therapy, therapeutic or skills based group work, measures relating to change are increasingly needed to evaluate effectiveness of the intervention, quantity and report on outcomes.
No two children, families or communities are the same therefore practitioners are required to have a variety of interventions, techniques and tools to address the growing complexity of issues presenting. It is therefore necessary to provide both the flexibility for the work to be relevant to the needs of children and families, whilst at the same time delivering a high degree of evidence based activities.
Reviewing PBS feedback against other evidence based programs showed positive results. This led to a decision to formalise our program, and undertake a process of applying for Evidence Based Program status through the Australian Institute of Family Studies. This presentation will share both our journey from practitioners to researchers, as well as the outcomes for the families drawing on our measures relating to parenting confidence, parent-child relationships, improved child behaviours, emotional resilience and much more.