Question 1 – How have you adapted service delivery in response to the bushfires, floods and Coronavirus pandemic? When has it worked and when hasn’t it worked? How will this affect how you deliver services in the future? Have your service adaptations included better integration with other initiatives?

The Capss service delivery was modified to comply with the restrictions and risks identified during COVID -19. The service responded with the provision of online parenting programs, individual family support through phone and zoom calls and the development of a service support directory available during COVID-19. The delivery of playgroups was also moved to an online platform through zoom and also provided information to families through Facebook. The new mode of delivery had some benefits to working families who could attend courses and programs in the comfort of their own home after hours, especially if they were a dual parent family. The challenges with the online delivery model was around the provision of childcare in order for families to be available and present to engage fully in the training, in relation to single parents this was certainly a barrier. The nuances that would be picked up in a face to face group were not as evident online and building relationships with parents was challenging if the facilitator had not previously met the families prior to the program. Risk minimisation strategies through a risk assessment was developed to ensure that when face to face delivery returned the safety of the group was ensured. The groups also were capped to ensure social distancing could occur when face to face resumed.

Question 2 – Are the proposed key outcomes for the families and children programs the right ones? Are there any major outcomes missing? How can we include strengths-based outcomes that focus on family or child safety?

The outcomes are aspirational and strengths based and is a positive framework. The framework should also consider the connection of early childhood services and not just schools, maybe this can be re titled as “Better connection to educational settings” under children and young people thrive. The framework should also consider not only the links to appropriate services but that services are working collaboratively with information sharing and ensuring that each family is getting the right service for the right situation.The voice of children, young people and parents needs to be reflected in this as well and included in self efficacy which can focus on safety and empowerment.

Question 3 – What tools or training would support you to effectively measure and report outcomes through the Data Exchange Partnership Approach?

Support and networking from services that are using effective tools or delivering similar programs to translate data to best fit the DEX system. This may provide a level of consistency. Is there the ability to include tools that are relevant to the training or programs being delivered in the system?

Question 4 – Do you already have a program logic or theory of change outlined for your program? Did you find the process useful? If you do not have one, what has stopped you from developing one? What capacity building support would assist service providers to develop program logics and theories of change?

Due to the change over of staff and uncertainty of funding this has not been able to be achieved. The team would be interested in working with the expert panel to ascertain if the program logic that has been developed to meet the community needs would satisfy the requirements, however until the funding extension is formally confirmed staff still face uncertainty. A standardised template would assist with consistency. A helpline or DSS representative or business partner that can provide clear and concise support in a timely manner would be wonderful.

Question 5 – If longer-term agreements are implemented, how can the department work with you to develop criteria to measure and demonstrate performance? How can the Data Exchange better support this?

An overhaul of the DEX system would assist to ensure outcomes could be more easily measured and reported if standardised tools were reflective of the programs that were being delivered. The ability to upload or report with qualitative data would provide evidence and that is unable to be captured in quantitative tools and shares the story behind the data.

Question 6 – What does success look like for your service, and how do you assess the overall success of your service?

Success is measured through a number of outcomes, these include engagement and take up of programs, the change demonstrated in skills and knowledge, the satisfaction levels of participants, increase in participant confidence, improvement in well being and relationship development and increase in capacity and self efficacy of educators, parents and children.

Question 7 – Do you currently service cohorts experiencing vulnerability, including those at risk of engaging with the child protection system? If not, how does service delivery need to adapt to provide support to these cohorts?

The services and programs offered do intersect with vulnerable families and at risk families. The referrals come from a number of avenues including, Early Childhood services/ educators, partner services, parenting programs, playgroups, DCJ and social media.

Question 8 – If you are a Children and Parenting Support or Budget Based Funded service provider, do you currently link with a Communities for Children Facilitating Partner or other regional planning mechanism to understand what other services are provided in the community and what the community identifies as their needs? How does this work in practice? Would you value the increased support of being attached to a local Facilitating Partner?

There are no partners located in our immediate LGA that we have connected with or have knowledge of. The services we do connect with attract funding from federal sources including DSS and IAS. These organisations do service part of the LGA and bordering LGA’s. Our organisation works in partnership with these services and organisations to ensure there is planning around the needs of the community and to ensure that the programs we provide compliment and not replicate existing or planned programs. It would be beneficial to have access to any local facilitating partners that service the LGA and surrounding regions and ensure formalised meetings are held to discuss area priorities and share demographic data.

Question 9 – For all providers, are there other ways to improve collaboration and coordination across services and systems?

There are many ways this could be improved. As mentioned formalised meetings to ensure that priorities are being captured and planned for and a requirement that organisations participate. It would be good to have consistency from DSS in terms of the funding arrangement manager appointed to each program. It would also be good to have a catch up at least every 4- 6 months with a set agenda including partnerships and collaborations or bring like services together at set times throughout the year via zoom to showcase and share successes and challenges.

Question 10 – The capability building support offered under Families and Children Activity programs has gone through several iterations. What works well? What do you think should change?

The needs highlighted in the discussion paper have identified the gaps that exist for our organisation particularly around tools and training, also regular support and feedback by grant arrangement managers will assist in this area. This could be delivered with a number of organisations via zoom and provide networking opportunities and sharing, this could be similar to an inter-agency model.

Question 11 – Aside from additional funding, how can the department best work with you to support innovation in your services while maintaining a commitment to existing service delivery?

Provide lead in time to develop and deliver programs and provide notice of changes or extensions to funding, this will ensure certainty and consistency of staff and will result in the most efficient use of resources. Through providing opportunities to network and share ideas and gain inspiration from organisations operating in regions or LGA’s that may be facing similar challenges will support innovative practice. Also networking provides opportunities to share any research, studies or innovative programs from other countries that may have demonstrated outcomes that can be adapted or replicated to promote cohesive communities.

Question 12 – Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the Discussion Paper?

There are many amazing workers that are making a positive difference to families in very vulnerable communities. It would be fantastic to see some recognition of this work from the Department, some self care initiatives promoted and also some regular sharing as mentioned to showcase this work at a national and international level.