Communities for Children Facilitating Partners Evidence-based programme profiles

Volunteer Family Connect

Name

Volunteer Family Connect

Target audience

Infants (0-2 years)
Early childhood (3-5 years)
Parents
At-risk or vulnerable

CfC Objective

Healthy Young Families
Supporting Families and Parents

Organisation

Volunteer Family Connect (lead agency Karitane)

Delivery Setting

Community-based; home-based

Description

Structured social relationships intervention in the form of volunteer home visiting for families with young children (0-5 years old).

Delivered to

Families with young children aged 0-5 years old experiencing social isolation and/or need additional support in their parenting role.

Delivered by

Trained community volunteers and program coordinators that are qualified at tertiary level in early years and/or experienced in children/family services.

Program Structure

Trained volunteers provide families with weekly two-hour home visit sessions for a period of 3-12 months.

Volunteers model positive behaviours and provide social and practical support to the family focusing on (but not limited to):

  • Parentcraft (including child development, health, and behaviour)
  • Parent/carer wellbeing and health
  • Family wellbeing (including parent-child relationships; family social support)
  • Preventative health care
  • Home environment
  • Community resources
  • Planning and goal setting (including aspirations for self, family, and children)

A program coordinator facilitates volunteer-family matches, attends the first home-visit and monitors the family’s progress and transition out of the program.

Training

Practitioners/program coordinators are required to follow the program manual and attend monthly online community of practice (CoP) meetings (induction included in CoP).

Volunteers are required to complete 8 training ‘session’ modules. The modules cover:

  • Introduction to VFC (Volunteer Family Connect)
  • Strengths-Based Approach with Families
  • Boundaries and Self-Care for Volunteers
  • Inclusion
  • Supporting Parents
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Early Childhood Wellbeing
  • Community Resources and Next steps

Training is usually delivered over a period of several days or weeks, depending on the availability of the program developer and the delivery partner. Contact Trichelle Tankin (details below) for further information.

Cost

Indicative costs are $5,000 (depending on size of site/number of volunteers). The costs includes:

  • Contribution to continuous quality improvement (CQI)
  • Program Manual
  • Training through CoP
Contact

Email: Trichelle.Tankin@health.nsw.gov.au
Website: www.volunteerfamilyconnect.org.au

Evaluation and effectiveness

A pragmatic randomised control trial was used to evaluate the program over a 15-month period (Grace et al., 2019). The trial was conducted in four Australian states that included urban and rural sites.

169 participants received the intervention, and 172 participants were able to access usual care services as part of the control group. Usual care services included universal health care, government-subsidized early childhood education and care services, and either free or low-cost playgroup or parenting support programs provided by nongovernment organizations.

A combination of standardised tools and program specific measures were used to assess parenting competence, community connectedness, parent health, parent enablement, parent wellbeing, sustainability of family routines and child-parent relationships.

The results showed that compared to the control group, participants in the intervention made statistically significant improvements on the parent sense of competence scale and one sub-scale of the social provisions scale. The sub scale indicated that families were more likely to report having someone in their life they could go to for advice and information.

Participants in the intervention also improved more in parent wellbeing and selected aspects of sustained family routines outcomes compared to the control group. There were, however, no differences between the groups on parent-child relationship measures.

Grace, R., Baird, K., Elcombe, E., Webster, V., Barnes, J., & Kemp, L. (2019). Effectiveness of the Volunteer Family Connect program in reducing isolation of vulnerable families and supporting their parenting: randomized controlled trial with intention-to-treat analysis of primary outcome variables.JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, 21(2):e13023.