The early years
Children’s experience of the early years lays a critical foundation for their futures. Researchers have pointed out the importance of well-designed, integrated services for young children, and especially the long-term value of preventative programs. Yet there is limited evidence about what programs work best in Australia. Our current research focuses on the best ways to assist disadvantaged children and their families, and the best ways for the well-being of children to be adequately valued in Australian social policy. Projects include:
National evaluation of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) 2009–2011
The Brotherhood, in partnership with Monash University, received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to evaluate the national roll-out of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), a home-based enrichment program in which parents supported by home tutors learn how to help their children develop skills needed for success at school.
The national evaluation investigated how the context of the 13 new program sites influenced the program’s design, implementation, uptake and overall acceptability, as well as its impact on the child’s school readiness, the parent–child relationship, and the parent’s and home tutor’s sense of well-being and social inclusion, as predictors of the child’s future wellbeing and social inclusion. The largest multi-site evaluation of the program ever undertaken in Australia, it incorporated a quasi-experimental research design to measure program effectiveness by using a non-randomised comparison group derived from the Longitudinal Study of Australia Children (LSAC).
Max Liddell, Tony Barnett, Fatoumata Diallo Roost and Juliet McEachran 2011, Investing in our future: an evaluation of the national rollout of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) final report (PDF file, 1.7 MB)
Evaluation of HIPPY in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales 2007–09
A smaller study of longer established Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) sites was undertaken with support from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Max Liddell, Tony Barnett, Jody Hughes and Fatoumata Diallo Roost 2009, The home learning environment and readiness for school: A 12-month evaluation of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) in Victoria and Tasmania (PDF file, 1.1 MB)
Families at the centre: negotiating Australia's mixed market in early education and care
Contact: Janet Taylor email@example.com
The Brotherhood is a partner in this Australian Research Council–funded study led by Deborah Brennan and Jen Skattebol at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, which will shed light on how local markets function in early childhood and care in Australia. In particular, the project will explore how low-income families make decisions about use of childcare services, providing evidence for policy making and service provision to encourage increased use. The direct involvement of childcare providers in the research, which will take place in six sites across four states, will strengthen its relevance and impact.
Communities for Children local evaluation
The Brotherhood of St Laurence was engaged by Anglicare Victoria as the local evaluator for the Frankston North site of the Communities for Children (CfC) initiative funded by the Department of Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The four-year project commenced in October 2005.
For the initial report, parents and service staff were interviewed about factors which affected their use of services such as maternal and child health centres, dental services and child care. The final report incorporated the Most Significant Change methodology. It examined the outcomes of CfC-funded activities ranging from playgroups to parenting support groups for children, families and the community, from the perspective of parents and service providers.
Carmelita Davies and Nicole Oke 2007, Connecting with Frankston families: examining service use for families in Frankston North, Karingal and Carrum Downs (PDF file, 198 KB)
Brotherhood of St Laurence 2009, Frankston North Communities for Children local evaluation (PDF file, 578 KB)
The Children’s Voices project involved consulting children about the enhancement of Rotary Park, a playground near the centre of Broadmeadows. Funded under the federal Communities for Children initiative, it was undertaken by the Brotherhood in partnership with the City of Hume. SInce asking children to help shape the services which impact them is relatively rare in Australia, researchers carefully documented the consultation process and developed guidelines to inform other efforts to involve children.
Nadine Cameron and Liz Orr 2010, Honouring children's voices: children as consultants in a playground enhancement project (PDF file, 58 KB)