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:

Children and Family Intensive Support


Children and Family Intensive Support (CaFIS) supports families living in selected communities in the Northern Territory (NT) and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia so that these children are growing up strong in families and communities that are safe and nurturing.

CaFIS replaces the Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS). IFSS has been redesigned and recommissioned as CaFIS in response to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission in its 2020 report Expenditure on Children in the Northern Territory and an evaluation of IFSS conducted in 2019. As part of this work, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments have worked together to align CaFIS with similar services provided by the Northern Territory Government, reduce service coverage duplication and enhance coordination between services.

CaFIS provides services that build on the strengths of families and communities to care for children in their culture. It supports parents and family members to develop their confidence and capability to bring children up strong, support co-ordinated services to meet the needs of families and address areas of concern that impact on children’s safety and wellbeing.

Who benefits from CaFIS?

CaFIS provides support to children or young people aged 0-18 years and their families.

How is CaFIS delivered?

CaFIS services are delivered in identified communities of need across the six regions of the Northern Territory and a small number of communities in the APY Lands in South Australia.

CaFIS providers offer evidence-informed locally adapted, trauma-informed and culturally appropriate services tailored to meet the individual needs of children and their families. CaFIS acknowledges that the broad concept of parenting and caring includes extended families and kinship systems and respects Indigenous concepts of childhood, family and community whilst focussing on the best interests of the child.

CaFIS Operational Guidelines assist CaFIS providers to work in a consistent, coordinated and cooperative way. The guidelines outline the key elements of service delivery and seek to clarify policy and process questions that may arise during the delivery of the CaFIS activity. In the coming months CaFIS providers will be consulted and asked to provide feedback on the guidelines. Providers’ feedback will be incorporated in to an updated version of the guidelines.

Resources for providers

As part of the roll-out of the CaFIS program and onboarding of CaFIS providers, the department engaged Pricewaterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting (PIC) to develop a set of capacity-building tools to assist CaFIS providers with the new program and embed good practice considerations into the way the services are delivered. These tools are not extra requirements under service providers grant agreements. The resources can be used as needed and are available here:

CaFIS Newsletter

The CaFIS newsletter highlights important news, information and good news stories for service providers delivering CaFIS.

Activity Work Plans

CaFIS grant agreements include requirements for Activity Work Plans (AWPs). These requirements are listed in the reporting milestones table of new grant agreements. The AWP template is available here:

CaFIS documents

Evaluation of IFSS

The Department of Social Services engaged Social Compass to undertake an independent evaluation of IFSS. 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 Productivity Commission 2020 Report into the Expenditure on Children in the Northern Territory, helped inform the development of CaFIS.

Children and Parenting Support (CaPS)

Children and Parenting Support (CaPS) services provide early intervention and prevention support to children and their families across Australia. 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.

Who will benefit from CaPS services?

CaPS 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 CaPS services delivered?

CaPS services are delivered by community and charitable organisations through face-to-face, online and other modes in identified areas of need across Australia.

This includes eight specialised CaPS services to support families and children experiencing the impacts of alcohol and other drug misuse, one in each state and territory. These specialised services use a prevention and early intervention family support approach to deal with the impacts of substance misuse problems, through integrated, long-term and intensive support.

Five national services 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 (HIPPY)

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 Operational Guidelines (2021–2023) 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 $160 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 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 (BBF)

The Budget Based Funded (BBF) program provides 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 parents gain access to educational and training opportunities.

How is BBF delivered?

BBF services are located in rural and remote communities, and 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.

Helping Families Learn and Grow with Playgroups

As part of the 2022-23 Budget, the Australian Government announced an investment of $12.4 million over 4 years to increase access to playgroups and toy libraries.

Playgroups provide social and parenting support for parents and carers, contributing to the early development and wellbeing of children and parent-child relationships, and increasing feelings of belonging and connection in families with their communities.

Funding will also go to toy libraries to ensure developmentally appropriate toys are accessible to families, encouraging play-based learning and engagement by children from a range of backgrounds.

The program will be delivered by:

  • Direct funding agreements with the national organisations Playgroup Australia and Toy Libraries Australia to identify and fund local playgroups and toy libraries across Australia including in regional and remote locations
  • Individual grants will also be provided to community based organisations that operate playgroups and toy libraries
  • A pilot of up to 10 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to operate First Nations Playgroups

For more information on the grant on the measure please contact

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