Catholic Care Victoria Tasmania-Catholic Care Victoria
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?
As with all services at Catholic Care Victoria, FARS and FMHSS programs were delivered remotely during 2020 due to the pandemic. We were able to quickly move to telephone and video conferencing service delivery meaning services for clients were uninterrupted. We also adapted group work programs to the video conferencing platform and clients were able to access services without barriers. Practice guidelines were developed for staff to ensure both practitioner and client safety and confidentiality were maintained. This mode worked very well for adults but was more challenging in some instances for children. Thus children are currently prioritised to move back to face to face contact. Clients at risk were still seen in a face to face capacity with COVID safe requirements in place.
Video conferencing featured significantly in the way we responded to client needs and many commented that they felt more able to seek counselling or group work as they did not have to travel. We were able to collate this feedback from a client survey that was conducted in the latter part of 2020 and has helped inform what modes of service delivery we will retain moving forward.
Catholic Care’s Gippsland offices provided outreach support to those individuals and families affected by the bushfires. This included outreach counselling, community engagement via our Community development officer and our Catholic Care “Outreach van” The combined effects of the bushfires and the pandemic meant people in affected areas were experiencing increased negative impacts on wellbeing and mental health and significant isolation, it was important to adapt services to meet the need directly within those communities particularly when they were very remote.
Video conferencing was also used as a means to remain connected to referrers and partnerships. Active engagement of services who usually refer in to our FARS and FMHSS programs was more challenging during 2020 as network meetings were no longer able to be held in person. This affected slightly our referrals but practitioners and Managers worked hard to promote our services in other ways.
Our FMHSS team continued to co work cases with integrated family support for example although it was remotely and the demand from schools remains strong. The particular challenges in Victoria and Melbourne with the pandemic and subsequent lock downs has seen increased mental health issues for children young people and families. This is a theme that is continuing to emerge and further support for programs who work in this space will be required.
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 four high level aims outlined by DSS fit well with the intended outcomes of the programs provided by Catholic Care Victoria (specifically Melbourne, Geelong and Gippsland for the purposes of this submission)
• Children and young people thrive
• Family Relationships flourish
• Individuals are empowered
• Communities are cohesive
However it is noted that safety is not included in these high level aims/outcomes.
Therefore it is suggested that safety of children young people and families appear more prominently in the associated outcomes. for example, in children and young people thrive- the associated outcome of feel safe and supported at home could be broadened to at school and in the community. However it is also noted that FARS and FMHSS programs do not have the capacity to work in an ongoing way with high levels of risk around family violence for example but should instead have clear mandated reporting requirements and strong relationships with specialist family violence services to ensure clients have appropriate supports in place to address risk and enable protective capacity. These pathways are ones that we have clearly outlined in our Activity work plan as outcomes so would be transferable to the high level Outcomes DSS is proposing.
Language in outcomes that supports a strength based approach is essential for programs such as “learning skills and strategies, increased sense of safety, promoting resilience, improved emotional and psychological health” This moves our programs beyond identifying and assessing need and risk to a way of empowering children young people and families to access their own internal and external resources to ensure long lasting change.
In Children and young people thrive it is suggested that there could be an associated outcome that includes children and young people having a voice and participating in decision making including the way services engage with them. It is important to include outcomes that address not only Child safe standards but children and young people’s active participation in home, school, community and the services they are accessing.
Question 3 – What tools or training would support you to effectively measure and report outcomes through the Data Exchange Partnership Approach?
Catholic Care Victoria Tasmania currently are participating in the DSS Data exchange partnership approach. There are some challenges however with the applicability of SCORE to our programs. Practitioners who work directly with children note that it is difficult to match the questions to their interventions with children. They have utilised their own simple visual evaluations for use with children as all practitioners note that it is preferable to have client rated outcomes measurements as opposed to practitioner rated. It is desirable to find alternative outcome measurement tools that can be matched to SCORE however this is contingent on organisations having the resources and funds to enact this. Support from DSS in relation to this issue would be helpful.
In our FMHSS program we run school based programs/groups for children. This could be a whole class participating and several classes per week for four to six weeks. Feedback from schools has indicated that they find the data required for our statistics overly detailed and burdensome so it would be useful to have further discussions with DSS about how this could be streamlined as it is currently a barrier to schools agreeing to the program. practitioners are developing a work around but it is a challenging balance between suiting the children and schools needs with the required data set for DEX.
It is certainly best practice to report on outcomes and we support this approach of increased reporting. Given the breadth of programs at CCVT and the many varied locations, we have developed practice guidelines for SCORE. This ensures consistency and data integrity when reporting back through the data exchange partnership. It is not yet a “perfect system” as such due to the nuances and variances of each program and the way it is delivered but provides a solid base for practitioners and managers to report and track progress against outcomes. Further work is being undertaken to ensure comprehensive dashboard reporting within our client management system to support AWP progress reports- this capability building support may not be as available to smaller organisations so could be a focus for the department
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?
We have developed program logics for all of our DSS funded programs including FARS and FMHSS including:
assumptions/evidence of need/issue, service activities, inputs, outputs, service quality outcomes and outcomes- impacts for individuals, families and communities including immediate, intermediate, long term.
This has been an important framework for service delivery and outcomes and was best achieved by consultation with practitioners. Further work would be required to ensure consultation with stakeholders namely the clients that we work with is included as part of this process.
Support from CFCA for organisations to develop program logics would be highly valued and our organisation is also considering what support the
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?
Consultations with service providers through the activity work plan review and reporting process would be useful to ensure service providers are clear about any changes that are required or to gather feedback about whether outcomes already articulated in AWP continue to meet any developed criteria.
CCVT have the benefit of a very comprehensive client management system that is able to capture real time data in terms of client numbers, sessions, demographics, presenting issues and further work is being undertaken to develop dashboards to provide information to measure against the reportable outcomes in the AWP’s.
CCVT supports ongoing accountability measures with consistent criteria that is easily understood.
Question 6 – What does success look like for your service, and how do you assess the overall success of your service?
Success measures in FARS and FMHSS take different forms. Practitioners develop particular survey tools depending on the client group eg children however these are based on existing tools that have been validated and evidenced. We find visual tools work best for children which need to be translated to SCORE
Success for families is often fluid and capturing long last change can be challenging when it is often anecdotal.
Children young people and adults demonstrating the skills and strategies acquired through a program are best self reported.
Pre and post surveys are a useful way of measuring success however they need to be extended to long term impacts, follow up with clients in the longer term can be challenging for service providers as attempts to contact clients are not always successful.
Tools such as Outcomes stars are used in family based programs such as FMHSS and are effective.
measuring success in terms of reengagement with a service can provide useful, if families re engage at different time points this can actually be viewed as positive as they have confidence to reach out for further support when additional challenges are presented.
For our programs themes in successful outcomes include clients and practitioners reporting:
Reduced stress and relationship/family conflict and strengthened family
attainment of skills and strategies to mitigate effects of mental health and
increased sense of safety and security
relationships are enhanced
risk issues are identified and referred appropriately
outreach programs are targeted to meet community need
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?
FMHSS in our Melton region of Melbourne work in a preventative and early intervention model. This includes a close working relationship with local Child First alliance and co working cases with integrated family support. This involves FMHSS practitioners working with the children/young people and IFS addressing issues with the parents.
Due to the breadth of programs available at Catholic Care Victoria, children young people and families are able to access a range of services based on their need. This may include family law services such as FDR, counselling, emergency relief and more.
We offer outreach locations in vulnerable communities such as the 3214 postcode in regional Victoria (Corio and Norlane) and ensure our service is accessible i.e no cost. This meets need within communities and for example. For families at risk of engaging in the child protection system, having a placed based service eliminates barriers such as travel enabling them to seek support for risk and parenting issues before intervention at a child protection level.
Clear and effective referral pathways with the Orange door for example in Victoria also supports vulnerable families with risks to child and young people wellbeing
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?
Our counselling program in the Geelong region have links with the local communities for children however.
Due to the pandemic links have been more difficult to maintain but when face to face network meetings resume these pathways will be strengthened
Question 9 – For all providers, are there other ways to improve collaboration and coordination across services and systems?
Stronger links with child protection in each region
ensuring families do not “slip through the cracks” between the family law and child protection system.
having clear guidelines around how service providers who are not subject to the Victorian information sharing scheme can still work in collaboration with those providers that are to ensure that children, young people and adults experiencing family violence are identified and supported to be safe and protected.
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 CFCA is an excellent resource for service providers. Support for mapping tools to SCORE would be of great benefit to service providers
Training that can be rolled out to practitioners in collaboration with CFCA about outcome measurement and data collection would be helpful as many do not come for professional backgrounds where this has been the emphasis.
Our organisation has a project team to assist with capturing data and this support consists of help desks, online training webinars and communications via email of updates and helpful tips. This has been invaluable in transitioning staff to an emphasis on data and outcomes measurement to some extent but more specific training on research, evidenced based outcome measurement and their deployment would also be valuable
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?
resource library however it is recognised that CFCA has this function in many ways
the department could offer webinars specifically on outcome measurement and best practice in this area.
Focus on capturing data when working with children
Support for capturing the client voice and supporting active participation.
Grants that could be accessed to build capability in outcome measurement and best practice
Question 12 – Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the Discussion Paper?
Thank you for this opportunity to contribute