Reports from External Sources
Igniting Change: Moving Away from Violence (Jan 2013)
A joint research project conducted by Christchurch Women's Refuge, Family Help Trust and Te Awatea Violence Research Centre (University of Canterbury) Funded by a Lotteries Community Research Grant. Lead Researcher Yvonne Crichton-Hill. Read the Executive Summery here and read the full report here
Kahui Twins Death Report from the Coroner's Office read the full report here released 6th June 2012
Vulnerable Families - A Two-year Outcome Study by Mark Turner, May 2009
Family Help Trust’s "Monitoring Vulnerable Families" report (2009) provides evidence that the risk of child abuse among the most socially deprived families can be significantly reduced through effective home visitation. In particular, significant outcomes are indicated within the first two years through:
Home visitation services that target those under the most extreme risk of child abuse and neglect are extremely rare. The one published study suggests the only known similar service elsewhere was ineffective. Contrary to such findings, the Family Help Trust "Monitoring Vulnerable Families" research indicates that it is possible to significantly improve the outcomes of the families and infants where maltreatment is most likely to occur, and therefore to markedly decrease its incidence.
Evaluation of Family Help Trust - Twelve-Month Outcomes, October 2006
Prepared by Mark Turner PhD. Edited excerpts below.
This evaluation provides an account of the twelve month outcomes of 55 Family Help Trust families. The design, major outcomes and conclusions of this evaluation are summarised in the report.
Chapter 1 sets the background for the evaluation of the Family Help Trust programme and provides a brief overview of home visiting. Examination of the literature shows that many home visiting services are not effective in preventing child abuse. The key features of successful services include:
The present evaluation examines a crucial gap in the current understanding of home visitation services by studying the twelve month outcomes of a group of ultra highrisk clients.
Chapter 2 describes the evaluation design and the limitations of this methodology. When using prospective longitudinal research designs without a control group, the results must be treated with caution as it is not possible to say that any improvements wouldn’t have occurred without Family Help Trust input. Nevertheless it is possible, and extremely informative, to examine any changes in this challenging population.
Chapter 3 examines the referral process and provides a descriptive profile of the socio-demographic backgrounds of the families recruited. Comparison with previous cohorts showed Family Help Trust families are socially disadvantaged. The mothers reported a background of adversity in childhood, and there were relatively high levels of criminality, substance use and mental health problems. Of significance, threequarters (78.2%) had prior Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) involvement.
Internationally, many similar programmes specifically exclude those with prior child protection agency involvement.
Chapter 4 provides an examination of changes over the first twelve months on a series of key issues that have previously been associated with poor prognosis for children and low family functioning generally. Fifty-five families (78.6% of those recruited) had twelve month data available. The results of Section 1, which focused on key child-related outcomes are extremely encouraging and point to significant improvements in a number of key areas including parental behaviours associated with child rearing and the health and safety of child(ren) in the household. Section 2 also found indications of significant improvements in social support and family violence. However, there was less evidence of positive changes in lifestyle behaviours (such as parental substance abuse, mental health and family economic circumstances) of the Mothers of Baby (MOB).
Chapter 5 provides an overview and analysis of the results of this evaluation and places these findings in the context of previous studies. Given the difficulties previous research studies have had finding any positive improvements from home visitation services, the results of the present evaluation are extremely encouraging. This is all the more so given that these clients have only been receiving Family Help Trust input for twelve months and many authors report that it is unlikely results can be achieved in this timeframe.
While the lack of a control group does not allow definite conclusions about causality, this evaluation shows that ultra high-risk families can make significant improvements in crucial child abuse prevention areas over twelve months. As such, this research is the first evaluation to show that positive changes can occur in the lives of this ultra high-risk cohort. It provides valuable information that can help guide clinical practice and provide governmental social agencies and policy analysts with an evidence base for improving family functioning and reducing the incidence of child abuse and neglect.
Foreword by Lesley Max, Co-Patron Family Help Trust
This report is of particular interest. Family Help Trust's intervention is revealed as highly unusual if not unique in its targeting only high-risk families and is thus likely to be of interest internationally.
Evaluator Dr Mark Turner is candid about the limitations of the evaluation, noting that it is "indicative of possible trends, not confirmed evidence of programme effectiveness". Evaluation is complicated by the fact that the service "is designed to meet the specific requirements, circumstances and problems of a given high-risk family, rather than imposing a standardized programme on all families".
Programme families represented a substantial challenge in the light of the incidence of head injury or concussion, mental health problems, substance abuse, criminal offending, adversity in childhood and prior CYFS involvement.
Significant decreases were noted in CYFS involvement and in reported violence of mothers toward their child/ren. An extremely encouraging pervasive and consistent trend towards decreasing partner violence and abuse was also found.
In an interesting echo of the "Early Start" evaluation, the Family Help Trust was found to be most effective in assisting mothers to acquire new skills and behaviours in parenting their children but was less effective in addressing long-standing lifestyle issues relating to substance abuse, mental health issues and families' economic circumstances.
The report concludes that "FHT families were successful in improving maternal child-rearing skills and reducing child abuse risks over the first 12 months involvement with the service".
The Family Help Trust has established a rare expertise in one of the most difficult but critically important areas of social service. To my mind it represents social enterprise of a remarkable kind. It is an organization that deals proactively and effectively with a population that would otherwise be unlikely to receive necessary assistance.
This report should be read by all those concerned for New Zealand's children and families, but most particularly by policy analysts and Government decision-makers.