In 2016-2017 CFRE was contracted by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to increase the capacity of fifteen remote and regional Communities for Children (CfC) service delivery agencies in remote and rural communities to use and generate evidence.
CFRE designed and delivered training workshops on program planning and evaluation, with corresponding workbooks and resources for participants. With approximately 105 workshop participants these workshops were a great success! A lot of the workshop content was aimed at agencies new to evaluation, and focused on the basics of program theory and developing logic models. Following the workshops, project staff were provided with follow-up support to gather evidence for their approach and theory of change, as well as implement an evaluation of their project.
These CfC agencies that we met with were doing some challenging and inspiring work with some of the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Our approach to supporting their work was designed using evaluation capacity building models, adult learning principles, as well as participatory approaches through a co-design/co-production model. It was important to us that we captured the stories of these programs in participants’ own words.
Some of the themes across the programs we have supported include:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pedagogies and child development programs that include on-country visits and learning traditional languages and/or practices.
- School readiness and transition programs specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children using protective factors such as cultural safety, learning traditional languages and/or practices in a school setting and/or a neutral setting linked to the environment.
- Universal childhood nutrition and child development programs.
- Parenting/family/social support programs for culturally and linguistically diverse populations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
- Educational programs for children and young people around personal safety, respect, empathy and compassion, including skill development in social and emotional learning using the arts.
We are excited that this project has resulted in a number of projects being assessed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies for inclusion on the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange portal. Several of these programs have already been approved in the category of Promising Programs and others approved at the Emerging Programs category to undergo future program evaluation. Ten agencies have requested further support from CFRE following this project.
At the conclusion of this project we submitted recommendations to DSS to assist them develop the inclusiveness and flexibility of their policies relating to evidence-based practices and proceed towards community-level outcomes.