Introduction to the Family Activity Centre Approach to Early Intervention

What makes the Family Activity Centre Approach work?

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The SC4C FamilyZone Project

"It takes a village to raise a child" at a time when villages have almost become an obsolete social grouping of the past in most westernized countries. Communities need to offer opportunities and family friendly places where family relationships can be nurtured and developed. The FamilyZone Ingle Farm Hub with its outreach centres and activities, supports this by providing resources for parents in a warm friendly environment that welcomes parents and children. The FamilyZone concept is developing and evolving in response to parents and children´s identified needs. This concept has some parallels with and draws on the kind of models being developed by the The Family Centres in the Nordic countries and more recently across Europe, Sure Start Children´s Centres in the UK and the Toronto First Duty initiatives in Canada. A team has developed to engage community involvement and coordinate, broker & link community services for families with children 0-12 years in 7 northern Adelaide suburbs. Volunteers assist in the day-to-day running of FamilyZone centres and associated outreach activities.

The FamilyZone Hub is a child and family centre that brings together a range of supports for families designed to facilitate the development of healthy attachment in the early years and create an environment which enhances the development of children 0-12years in the physical, emotional, social, cognitive & spiritual domains. These include:

  • supported playgroups
  • parent groups
  • early learning activities
  • home visiting
  • creche activities
  • CALD support groups
  • postnatal support groups
  • young parent education & support
  • community events
  • community engagement initiatives that raise awareness of early childhood issues.

FamilyZone co-locates NGO and government services at a hub at Ingle Farm Primary School in the north of Adelaide. It also services a number of satellite outreach centres and activities in surrounding suburbs. The hub has been developed in response to initial interviews with some 125 parents in the site, a consultation with existing service providers, the implementation of the Australian Early Development Census and ongoing consultation with local families and service providers. The Salvation Army Ingle Farm is the Facilitating Partner working alongside Lutheran Community Care, Relationships Australia, Child & Family Health Services and the Department of Education and Child Development. In 2016 funding for the management and co-ordination of the Hub was withdrawn by the department and has since been taken up by Lutheran Community Care. We continue to explore avenues toward ensuring a sustainable funding model.

A multi-agency, multi and trans-disciplinary team has been developed to facilitate holistic integrated, seamless services for families with children 0-12 years at the hub. The hub links with a system of community outreach initiatives.

Other agencies involved in service provision on site include Lutheran Refugee and Mobile Creche Services, TAFESA, Family Day Care, Modbury Hospital, Lyell McEwin Hospital, North East Division of General Practice, Parenting Network, Salisbury Primary Health Care services and Housing SA.

The Salvation Army Ingle Farm is facilitating a concept built around an Early Years Parenting Community in a large indoor area that operates for three days per week and links with options such as music and reading groups. This family friendly initiative regularly engages with some 275 adults and 400 children and is designed to promote healthy early childhood development and provide information and support to parents. Since 2016 this initiative has been funded internally by the Salvation Army and Relationships Australia has been subcontracted to upscale this activity in other locations in the site. An outline of this approach can be found here Developing and Early Years Parenting Community

These developments are auspiced by a stakeholder representative Communities for Children Committee. The initiative has also developed a number of innovative team-based governance structures and worked through many of the issues involved in the development of a multi-agency, multi and trans-disciplinary staff team.

A FamilyZonePromising Practice Profile has been developed as part of the Communities for Children National Evaluation and can be downloaded from the Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia website.

An evaluation of Familyzone can be found here FamilyZone Ingle Farm Evaluation. Oral presentation of some of the findings Family Activity Centre Approach Evaluation

An outline of the approach can be found here Family Activity Centre Approach

Australian Refugee Association Relationship Australia Save the Children Australia Lutheran Community Care Salvation Army Schools Ministry Group