The Evidence Portal

Overcoming barriers

Flexible activity

Overcoming barriers to engagement or attendance in a program increases the positive impact of the program. This can be done through practical support to attend, and ensure the program is flexible enough to be tailored to the needs of the family. 

How can it be implemented?

Programs are designed and delivered with sensitivity to the circumstances of participants, including their cultural and socio-economic identities and considerations. The delivery includes specific approaches to support attendance and engagement.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with several different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • First time mothers who are vulnerable, for example young mothers, single mothers, and families of low socioeconomic status.
  • Families at risk using indicators such as education level, single parenthood, employment, history of abuse or neglect, potential for violence, and a history of mental illness, criminality, and drug abuse.
  • African American mothers who have not accessed adequate prenatal care.
  • Aboriginal mothers in Central Australia.
  • Families with prior contact with child welfare services, or who have been reported for alleged child abuse or neglect.
  • Children who have shown signs of social behavioural problems; have difficulties with socio-emotional or cognitive development.
  • Parents lack parenting skills.
  • Multigenerational migrant communities, low-income migrant families, foster families, and families.
  • Universal.
  • Culturally diverse communities.

What programs conduct this activity?

Australian Nurse-Family Partnership: An adaptation of the Nurse-Family Partnership for remote Aboriginal communities. The main adaptation was to include Aboriginal community workers in the home visiting team.

Healthy Steps for Young Children: A telephone line for non-emergency developmental concerns.

HeadStart: Services provided to individual families are tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.

Relief Nursery Program: Other services are provided as needed, including respite care and transportation to and from services. On an as needed basis, mental health and special education services are integrated into the classroom. Staff offer the program in the parents’ primary language.

ParentCorps: Childcare and meals are provided.

Early Start: The program of home visitation is tailored to meet individual family need, the program should be adapted to clients’ needs.

Parents as Teachers: Curriculum elements are provided at the discretion of the home visitor to allow flexibility.

Pride in Parenting: A health educator with expertise in work with low-literate and racial-ethnic minority populations helps create new materials and selects the final materials. Materials are culturally appropriate and relevant to the lives of low-income women. Paraprofessional visitors are drawn from the African American community to effectively influence the mothers’ parenting behaviours and attitudes.

Chicago Parent Program: The program was developed in collaboration with a parent advisory group of African American and Latino parents from a range of economic backgrounds.

Family Support Program: The program is flexible and can be adapted to meet the individual needs of each family.

Further resources

Last updated:

20 Feb 2023

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