Critical features of the CaPSS approach are our:
- Strength based perspective
- Focus upon strengthening protective factors
- Partnerships with community agencies providing support to families and children
- Platforms approach
Strength based perspective
CaPSS operates from a perspective that those engaged in parenting are doing the best possible job they can, given the context and their own experiences. Therefore, CaPSS builds upon the strengths of individual parents participating in the program to increase their confidence and competence in the parenting role. This approach is based upon the belief that all families possess, and have the ability to use, strengths. A strengths-based approach focusses upon what is working well and is based upon the assumption that people have existing competencies and resources and that they are capable of solving problems and learning new skills. They are not simply being guided by the professional, but are part of the process. The practitioner takes an active role in building parents’ knowledge and encouraging learning while providing ideas on how to integrate new ideas and strategies into everyday family life.
Focus upon strengthening protective factors
CaPSS is focussed upon strengthening protective factors to increase the likelihood that children, young people and families are on a trajectory of positive outcomes. Rather than simply seek to minimize risk, CaPSS aims to maximize potential and to strengthen capacity through strengthening protective factors. Strengthening protective factors interact with risk factors by:
- Mitigating the negative effects of risk factors
- Interrupting the cumulative effect of risk factors
- Helping to avoid the negative effects of risk factors
Protective factors are interrelated attributes or conditions that both prevent or mitigate the effect of exposure to risk factors and stressful life events and build family strengths and a family environment that promotes optimal child development. These protective factors include:
- Resilience and optimism – managing parenting stress, functioning well when faced with difficulties or challenges, experiencing positive change and growth, feeling more resourceful in meeting future challenges, and feeling positive about the future.
- Supportive, caring parenting – understanding the unique aspects of child development, and implementing developmentally and contextually appropriate parenting practices.
- Social and emotional competence – providing an environment and experiences that enable the child to form close and secure adult and peer relationships, and to experience, regulate and express emotions.
- Social connectedness – having healthy, sustained relationships with people, institutions and the community.
- Positive engagement with, and participation in, education and learning – forming and maintaining a positive relationship with kindergarten and/or school, supporting transition between educational environments, supporting the child’s school attendance and retention, and celebrating school achievements.
Partnerships with community agencies providing support to families and children
Collaborative partnerships are essential to the successful delivery of CaPSS programs, activities and services and currently underpin the delivery of services in both the City of Wyndham and the City of Melton (eg Best Start Partnerships are well-established and play a key role in service delivery for children aged 0-8 years). There is strong evidence locally, nationally and internationally of the value of integrated and collective approaches to the delivery of services and supports for vulnerable and/or socially disadvantaged children and families. Such approaches are essential to ensuring that families receive focussed and appropriate provision of supports. These approaches enable greater flexibility, responsiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency.
Partnerships enable CaPSS to target service delivery to unmet need with regard to parenting supports and to reduce the risk of replicating services that may already be in place. CaPSS is committed to a shared process for identifying need and monitoring and reviewing the achievement of outcomes.
Key partners for CaPSS include, but are not limited to:
- Local government authorities in each catchment
- Providers of supported playgroups
- Maternal and Child Health services
- Early childhood education and care services
- Schools and school support services
- Child and family support agencies (eg The Smith Family, Djerriarrah Community Education, VICSEG, Uniting Care, etc)
- Community centres
- Community health services
- Emergency relief services
Being part of community based networks and partnerships also provides CaPSS with opportunities to advocate for vulnerable families and children; along with other local services and agencies, to respond to gaps and issues in the service delivery landscape and improve the availability of supports for vulnerable families and children; to reduce fragmentation of, and enhance access to, services and supports for vulnerable families and children; and to learn from, and contribute to the learning of, other agencies and service providers.
CaPSS takes a platforms approach to the development and delivery of services. Essentially, CaPSS delivers parenting support services, activities and programs on platforms of local universal and secondary services for families and children. Many of these services provide a range of child-focussed activities and CaPSS is able to add the value of parenting support to these activities. CaPSS also works to ensure that families are linked to these community services and works to overcome barriers that may be impacting upon a family’s capacity to be part of the broader community service system.
This approach aligns with the place-based approaches that underpin municipal children’s plans currently in place in both the City of Wyndham and the City of Melton. These approaches focus specifically upon local areas and foster a culture of collaboration and integration. Such approaches make it easier for people to gain access to services and are more likely to be flexible and responsive to the particular needs of the local area. They reflect a move away from segmented and siloed service delivery practice to one that encourages and supports greater cohesion and joint planning.
What CaPSS does
CaPSS aims to actively support parents to support their children to achieve positive outcomes. The broad objective is to create awareness of the importance of parenting in relation to supporting children’s growth, development, learning, health and wellbeing, and to strengthen or modify attitudes, beliefs and practices in relation to parenting.
Outcomes for service users are:
- Decreased isolation and increased positive community connectedness (long term)
- Increased awareness of community services, activities, and programs for families and children (short term)
- Increased engagement with community services and programs (medium term)
- Improved child and family wellbeing and quality of life (long term)
- Increased parental knowledge about:
- Maintaining positive relationships with children
- Positively managing behaviour
- Healthy family lifestyles
- Supporting children’s development and learning
- Helping children prepare for transition to kindergarten, primary school and secondary school (short term)
- Improved parent confidence and competence (medium term)
- Increased enjoyment of, and satisfaction with, with parenting (medium term)
- Increased engagement with schools and learning (medium term)
- More positive transition to kindergarten, primary school and secondary school (medium term)
- Increased parental knowledge about:
Decreased isolation and increased positive community connectedness
Key strategies that will support the achievement of this outcome are:
- Active participation in community networks and partnerships
- Community consultations identifying needs of parents of children aged 0-12 years
- Delivery of parenting programs on platforms of local universal and secondary services for families and children
- Delivery of individualised supports focussed upon connecting families to community activities and services
- Specific assistance to help overcome barriers to participation in community activities and services
Improved child and family wellbeing and quality of life
Key strategies that will support the achievement of this outcome are:
- Delivery of group parenting programs aimed at increasing parental knowledge and skills and assist parents to strengthen or modify parenting attitudes, beliefs and practices – delivered by appropriately qualified/certified practitioners
- Delivery of parent/child interaction activities that encourage interaction through play, music, art and craft, etc
- Facilitation of peer-to-peer parent support groups that provide parents with opportunities to share experiences and collaboratively respond to issues
- Delivery of targeted, goal directed individualised case management providing additional support to parents who require this
CaPSS essentially focuses upon four broadly defined areas of parenting:
- Positive Parenting
- Links to Learning
- Healthy Family Lifestyles
- Keeping Children Safe
Positive Parenting activities and supports are focussed upon relationships and positive interactions between parents and children. The aim of these activities and supports is to build parents’ confidence and competence to foster their children’s emotional development and wellbeing and to increase parents’ enjoyment of, and satisfaction with, their parenting role and their children.
Children and young people with healthy emotional development and wellbeing are loved and safe with positive family relationships, connections and support networks. They have a strong sense of identity and self-esteem and are resilient. Children with social and emotional wellbeing:
- Have positive mental health (e.g., healthy self-esteem, low or decreasing rates of internalising and externalising behaviours, etc.)
- Have pro-social connections and social competence in peer relationships
- Demonstrate resilience
- Are free from domestic and family violence, abuse, and neglect
- Demonstrate age-appropriate social and emotional milestones of development
Children need parents to positively support them to grow up loved and safe in a secure and stable home environment, providing opportunities for them to safely explore boundaries and opportunities. Parents with positive parenting skills:
- Demonstrate secure attachment, responsiveness and warm interactions
- Communicate well
- Provide appropriate discipline
- Provide appropriate structure and monitoring
- Demonstrate parental self-efficacy
- Are satisfied with and enjoy their children and the parenting role
Links to Learning
Links to Learning activities and supports are focussed upon supporting children’s learning and development and increasing engagement with schools and learning. The aim of these activities and supports is to build parents’ confidence and competence to foster their children’s development and learning and to increase positive engagement with educational environments for both children and parents. Many of these activities are delivered in partnership with kindergartens and schools.
Children and young people who are learning participate in, and experience, education that enables them to reach their full potential and maximize their life opportunities. Children who are learning:
- Have a positive home learning environment
- Participate in, and attend, kindergarten or school on a regular basis
- Have parents who engage in their learning
Children need parents to positively support their learning throughout their childhood years. Parents who support their children’s learning:
- Provide a positive home learning environment
- Ensure their children attend kindergarten or school on a regular basis
- Have a positive relationship with education and educational professionals
- Engage in their children’s learning
- Celebrate educational achievements
Healthy Family Lifestyles
Healthy Family Lifestyles activities and supports are focussed upon supporting children’s health and wellbeing and promoting positive lifestyle choices. The aim of these activities and supports is to build parents’ confidence and competence to foster their children’s healthy development and wellbeing and to make positive choices regarding their family’s lifestyle.
Healthy children and young people have their physical, developmental, psychosocial and mental health needs met. Children who are healthy:
- Have healthy diet
- Participate in regular physical activity
- Demonstrate healthy physical development
- Demonstrate healthy habits
Children need parents to positively support their optimum growth and healthy development. Parents who support their children’s growth and health:
- Provide a healthy diet
- Encourage participation in physical activity
- Monitor their children’s health and growth
- Model healthy lifestyles for their children
Keeping Children Safe
Keeping Children Safe activities and supports are focussed upon supporting children’s safety and decreasing risks. The aim of these activities and programs is to build parents’ confidence and competence to foster their children’s safety, to provide safe environments for their children, and to make positive choices to reduce risk.
Children who are safe are protected from harm with low or decreasing rates of risk taking behaviours. Children who are safe:
- Have a stable home environment
- Are free from violence, abuse and neglect
- Have access to safe recreation facilities and spaces
- Have good adult role models demonstrating low levels of risk taking behaviours
Children need parents to positively support them to be safe and to help them to make positive choices and decisions. Parents who keep children safe:
- Provide a stable and secure home environment
- Keep children free from violence, abuse and neglect
- Model low risk taking behaviours
- As far as possible and appropriate, ensure children’s safety in other environments
These broad areas of parenting intersect and overlap and a number of activities and supports are provided within and across each of these areas. CaPSS is a multi-faceted program that utilises a range of service modalities. These include:
- Group parenting skills programs;
- Parent/child interaction activities;
- Facilitated peer-to-peer parent support groups;
- Case Management
Group Parenting Skills Programs
The goal of group parenting programs is to have a positive impact upon children’s outcomes. These are structured programs that are intentional in focus and are delivered to parents in group settings over a set period of time. They take a participatory approach encouraging parents to actively engage with the program through specifically designed exercises and workshop activities.
Some of the programs offered are more intensive and delivered over multiple sessions. A number of these programs are evidence based* as determined by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Intensive, multi-session group parenting skills programs include:
- Tuning into Kids*
- Dad’s Tuning into Kids for*
- Tuning into Teens*
- Bringing Up Great Kids*
- 1 2 3 Magic and Emotion Coaching*
- Growing Together
Others are less intensive and delivered as a single session. Single session programs are generally developed in response to issues identified and/or suggested by parents. These include:
- What’s in my lunchbox?
- Start the day right with a good breakfast
- Tech Safe
- Body Safe
- Safe around water
- Transitions to kindergarten, primary school and secondary school
Parent/child interaction activities
These activities and programs are designed to increase positive interactions between parent and child and support the child’s overall development. Many of these activities are largely pay-based and delivered within playgroups, early childhood settings and/or schools, in parks, at community centres, or on platforms of recreational activities. These programs include:
- Creative Connections (strengthening the bond between parents and children)
- Family meals
- Young Parents Playgroup
Facilitated peer-to-peer parent support groups
These activities are designed to enable parents to come together as a group to share experiences and challenges and to generate solutions. Many of these group activities will follow on from group parenting skills programs and will assist parents to maintain the strategies they have learned through these programs. These groups offer opportunities for parents to build social networks and to connect with others who may be experiencing similar circumstances in a safe and non-threatening environment.
Individualised parenting support interventions
Some parents may require additional support to help them address issues related to their parenting. Individualised interventions are time-limited and focussed upon addressing specific issues. Interventions will include an assessment of needs, concerns, strengths and resources; development and implementation of a plan that addresses the specific issues identified; referrals for other services as indicated; and review of the plan with an exit plan outlining key next steps in place. The plan will be developed with the parent and will build upon what is working well and upon the strengths and resources of the family. Individualised interventions seek to foster parents’ self-efficacy and personal agency so that they are equipped to solve their own problems, to seek help when it is needed and to feel positive about the future. Parents are actively involved in determining what their needs are, what their strengths are, what is working for them, and the change they wish to see. Individualised interventions will also focus upon connecting parents to the universal and secondary services available to them in their local communities. Individualised plans and progress toward the achievement of individually determined goals will be mapped on the Family Star, a version of the Outcome Star .
Access to CaPSS
CaPSS works in specific geographical locations across the Cities of Wyndham and Melton. In Wyndham, CaPSS works in Werribee, Wyndham Vale, Hoppers Crossing and Laverton. In Melton, CaPSS works in Melton, Kurunjang, Toolern Vale, Melton West, Melton South, Brookfield, Exford, Eynesbury.
Parents who live in these localities are eligible to participate in group parenting activities. Referral is not required.
To be eligible for individualised support parents must:
- Live in an eligible locality,
- Be parenting a child or children aged 0 – 12 years, and
- Require support with parenting issues.
Parents may self-refer for individualised support or may be referred by a community agency. Referring agencies should use the CaPSS referral form.
Monitoring and Review
CaPSS is committed to continuous quality improvement, to ongoing effort to improve the quality of services, to providing services that are of value to participants, and to achieving positive results for client parents and their children. As part of this commitment CaPSS will collect and analyse data regarding program and service outputs as well as feedback regarding progress toward the achievement of outcomes from key stakeholders including service participants.