Parental and Community Engagement (PaCE)
Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles

Overview

Practice focus

The program builds on parental strengths to empower parents to support their children and improve educational outcomes. Employment of and guidance by Aboriginal people ensures that parental involvement is informed by culturally relevant community needs.

Delivered by

BoysTown: A community based national youth, child and family service.

http://www.boystown.com.au/services/parentalParenting.php

The information provided for this Promising Practice Profile was supplied by the National Manager, Community Engagement & Outreach at Boystown.

Service type

PaCE provides services and support for parents and families with Indigenous children aged 0-19 years and other community members to facilitate enhanced engagement with education providers and/or early learning services.

Location(s)

Logan and Ipswich Indigenous communities, QLD.

Description

PaCE is a community-driven program for parents and carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and young people up to the age of 19 years.

The aim is to enhance the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to:

  • engage with schools and education providers in order to support improved educational outcomes for their children;
  • build strong leadership that supports high expectations of Indigenous students' educational outcomes;
  • support the establishment, implementation and/or ongoing progress of community-school partnerships; and,
  • support and reinforce children's learning at home.

The program supports families and communities to be involved in their children's education by:

  • helping them connect with schools to get the best results for their children;
  • helping them build relationships with principals and teachers; and,
  • supporting them to help children and young people to learn at home.
Resourcing

PaCE is funded by the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR. Logan PaCE commenced in late 2010 and Ipswich PaCE in early 2011. Both were initially funded until December 2012 and funding has been extended until December 2013.

Practice

MOST promising aspect

The most promising aspect of the PaCE program is that it is community driven. This is achieved through Boystown's flexible service delivery structure that provides contractual, management, performance and risk frameworks that support PaCE Co-ordinators to engage in culturally appropriate ways with parents, carers and the communities.

This approach has enabled program participants and the communities to drive program direction and outcomes.

PaCE Co-ordinators have actively consulted with each of the communities about the challenges that impact on their relationships with education providers and the capacity of parents/carers to support their children's learning. In addition, the Co-ordinators have worked closely with participants to identify the strategies they feel would best assist them to overcome those challenges.

Other promising aspects

PaCE's service delivery approach has also enabled the program to:

  • assist the community to form support groups, such as the Ipswich Elders Education Support Group;
  • provide individual support to families, including accompanying parents to school meetings regarding their children's education; and,
  • fund/facilitate small projects that promote learning while bringing key stakeholder groups together to foster positive relationship building between schools and parents/carers/community.

A critical feature of the program that facilitates positive outcomes for the community is in the skills and attributes of the program Co-ordinators:

  • the Logan Co-ordinator had previous experience in the local education sector and had been an active community member in the Logan region prior to applying for the role. Having an understanding of education systems and decision-making processes in the local service sector, as well as having established relationships with staff in local schools, assisted the role.
  • the Ipswich Co-ordinator was recruited from within BoysTown in a community engagement role and was an active community member in the region with close links to the traditional owners of the Ipswich region. The worker's communication skills, knowledge of and capacity to effectively negotiate mainstream systems and service sectors has helped to deliver positive outcomes in the community.
Evidence base and opportunities

Through a faciliation approach of giving clients a say in decisions about the program and to respond to their own needs, parents feel empowered and are more committed to the program. This ensures the program is effective in meeting the specific needs of the community.

Good outcomes can be achieved in programs where parenting support provides parents and carers with a capacity to identify their own strengths and thus enables them to better support their children and to assist them in meeting their children's educational needs.

The culturally specific approach of this program also contributes to its success. The employment of local Aboriginal people to deliver the program in a culturally appropriate manner increases their capacity to facilitate good educational outcomes for the local community. Such an approach encourages family and community participation and involvement in the program and helps to build trusting relationships among all parties. This trust is a key ingredient in the program's success.

Cultural relevance

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

The former DEEWR contracted an Indigenous consultant to undertake initial consultations with communities in the Logan and Ipswich regions about where the program would best sit among existing service providers in those regions, and to identify the issues facing parents and carers of Indigenous children regarding their engagement with schools.

The consultation with the Logan community identified BoysTown to be a local mainstream service provider that would be an appropriate partner in supporting Indigenous families and their children using the PaCE model. The partnership included the following:

  • DEEWR were invited to provide a representative on the BoysTown's recruitment/screening panel;
  • two Aboriginal candidates were selected as Logan and Ipswich PaCE Co-ordinators;
  • each PaCE Co-ordinator was involved in developing engagement strategies, and both workers led community workshops across their regions to inform residents about the new program, its aims, and to identify specific challenges that parents/carers/community members were experiencing in engaging with their children's schools/education provider;
  • the Logan Co-ordinator had previous experience in the local education sector and had been an active community member in the Logan region prior to applying for the role; and,
  • the Ipswich Co-ordinator was recruited from within BoysTown in a community engagement role and was an active community member in the region with close links to the traditional owners of the Ipswich region.
Cultural practices and materials

PaCE Indigenous programs adopt a holistic approach to service delivery to enable each person to identify and build on their strengths while building confidence in their ability to provide support to their children and engage with the education system.

The initial program workshops in the Ipswich region were not well attended. In response, additional engagement activities with parents and the local community were undertaken through alternative activities such as school-based community events and family-oriented activities including information days, participation and support with the Liworaji Elders School Breakfast and family camps.

Evaluation

Evaluation status

The PaCE program has not been evaluated and an evalation is not planned or underway. However, feedback was sought from program participants and the wider community, including Elders groups, education providers and the program's Steering Committee members. The feedback is captured in BoysTown's quarterly Board Reports and six monthly reports to DEEWR.

Effectiveness

Demonstrated outcomes

Key outcomes of the PaCE program between September 2010 and June 2011, as detailed in Boystown's Annual Report 2011, are:

  • engagement with 336 parents and carers;
  • engagement with 149 community members;
  • held more than 30 informal events, such as home visits and community connections;
  • undertook a series of community workshops to identify factors that impact on families;
  • commenced a weekly playgroup, in conjunction with the Benevolent Society in Browns Plains, with 15 parents and 30 children regularly taking part;
  • assisted with the creation of the Ipswich Elders Education Support Group;
  • supported the development of a weekly Elders breakfast to engage with young people who are at risk of school suspension; and,
  • created a steering committee comprised of local Elders, parents, the Principals at Bundamba Secondary College and Woolridge State High School, Boystown and Government representatives.
 

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