07 January 2019

Improving service responses to vulnerable families during pregnancy and infancy: Report to Department of Social Services, Australian Government.

This report reviews the research literature to identify evidence-based effective strategies for working with new and vulnerable families and recommends how these strategies could be used in Australia. The research found  that resource intensive approaches such as home visiting and collaborative approaches are the most promising interventions to address the needs of at-risk pregnant women, women with young children and infants entering foster care. Complex needs families require a multifaceted response that is collaborative rather than fragmented. There was very little information available in the research about engaging and retaining high risk families in programs which needs to be an important component of service delivery as program attrition rates in the majority of studies were high. Overall, the authors concluded that  responses to address the complex lives of at risk families require interventions that are holistic and integrated, wrap around the family and address their needs across all domains. This requires organisations working in different service sectors (e.g. mental health, education, and child and family) to effectively collaborate and provide integrated services. This model of service delivery will require funding models that facilitate this approach.