Children and Parenting

Children and Parenting funds early intervention and prevention services and resources to improve children’s development and wellbeing, and support parents and carers in raising children. Services focus on children aged 0–12 years, but may include children up to 18 years.

Services aim to be accessible to everyone through strategies such as cultural awareness and diversity, and flexible opening hours and service locations. They work closely with clients to find solutions that suit their individual needs.

Children and Parenting comprises of:

Intensive Family Support Services

Intensive Family Support Services focus on reducing child neglect, and increasing the capacity of families to support their children to be safe, nurtured and thriving.

These services provide the most vulnerable families in identified communities in the Northern Territory and South Australia with practical parenting education and support for up to 12 months, to help them improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their children.

Who benefits from the Intensive Family Support Services?

The Intensive Family Support Service is available to families with children aged 0-12 years of age (but can include children up to 18 years).

How are the Intensive Family Support Services delivered?

Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) is an intensive home and community-based family support service offered to highly vulnerable families living in 23 selected communities in the Northern Territory and four in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia.

The program provides practical parenting education and support to parents and caregivers in their communities and homes for around 12 months to help improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their children. IFSS is not Indigenous specific but over 85 per cent of clients are Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander. The phased rollout of the program commenced in 2010 – 2011.

Evaluation of the Intensive Family Support Services 

The Department of Social Services engaged Social Compass to undertake an independent evaluation of the Intensive Family Support Services. Social Compass evaluated the appropriateness, efficiency and effectiveness of the program. The review ran from late 2018 to early 2020.

The evaluation, alongside the recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory and the Productivity Commission Report into the Expenditure on Children in the Northern Territory, will help inform the future of the Intensive Family Support Services. 

Related Information

Children and Parenting Support

Children and Parenting Support services provide early intervention and prevention support to children and their families. Services seek to identify issues such as risk of neglect or abuse within families, and provide interventions or appropriate referral(s) before these issues escalate.

Early intervention and prevention strategies aim to influence children’s and families’ behaviours to reduce the risks of an emerging issue. A key component of early intervention and prevention is to increase protective factors to enable children and families to be resilient when issues arise.

There are over 140 community and charitable organisations funded to deliver the Children and Parenting Support activity around Australia.

Who will benefit from Children and Parenting Support services?

Children and Parenting Support services help improve children’s wellbeing and development by providing a range of services including supported playgroups and school readiness programs, and increasing the capacity of parents, carers, and grandparent carers. Building the capacity of parents and carers through services such as parenting skills courses and peer support groups contributes directly to improvements in children’s wellbeing and development, and increases protective factors that enable children and families to be resilient when issues arise.

How are Children and Parenting Support services delivered?

Children and Parenting Support services are delivered in 139 priority service areas around Australia and will continue until 30 June 2023.

Children and Parenting Support services include eight specialised services for families and children experiencing the impacts of alcohol and other drug misuse. These are in every state and territory, and will also continue to 30 June 2023. These services use a prevention and early intervention family support approach to dealing with the impacts of substance misuse problems, through integrated, long-term and intensive support.

Five national services have been funded to 30 June 2026 to deliver services such as community playgroups, peer support groups for carers, and web-based information and services.

To find a service near you, go to the list of Children and Parenting Support service providers.

Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a two-year home-based parenting and early childhood program that helps parents and carers to be their child’s first teacher.

HIPPY builds the skills of parents and carers to help prepare their child for school.

The program also offers some parents and carers a path to work and local community leadership.

Who will benefit from HIPPY services?

By giving parents the tools they need to give their children some early literacy and numeracy skills, HIPPY gives children a better start at school.

How is the HIPPY service delivered?

Parents and their children enrol in the program in the year before their child starts school. The program activities are designed to be integrated into the daily life of the family. The first year of the program focuses on pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills. The second year extends these activities, and provides parents with additional information about children's learning and development.

Each program location is staffed by a qualified coordinator and a team of home tutors, who are usually past or current parents participating in the program who live in the community.

HIPPY Program Guidelines (2019–2022) outline the arrangements for the implementation and ongoing delivery of HIPPY in 100 communities across Australia.

How is HIPPY funded?

Since 2009, the Australian Government has invested more than $100 million to deliver HIPPY in disadvantaged communities across Australia.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (through HIPPY Australia) delivers HIPPY on behalf of the Australian Government.

Where is HIPPY located?

Since 2017, HIPPY has been delivered in 100 communities across Australia, targeting around 4,000 children each year. Fifty of these locations focus on Indigenous communities.

Want to know more?

For more information go to the HIPPY Australia website.

HIPPY evaluation

In 2017, ACIL Allen Consulting was engaged by the Department of Social Services to evaluate the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY). The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach including a review of national and international literature, analysis of HIPPY administrative data provided by Brotherhood of St Laurence and consultations with stakeholders in 20 HIPPY sites. The HIPPY evaluation report was finalised in March 2018.

Budget Based Funded

The Budget Based Funded program provides Australian families with access to quality support services that focus on child care and school readiness.

Who will benefit from BBF services?

By providing flexible and affordable adjunct care and early learning services to Australian families who may not work the traditional nine-to-five jobs, families have access to positive learning and development for school readiness and allows parent to access educational and training opportunities.

How is BBF delivered?

The services that BBF fund are located in rural and remote communities, as well as areas where the market might not otherwise support the viable operation of a service. These services include crèches, early learning programs, care for out of school hours and mobile services such as toy libraries.

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