This report finds the NSW Community Services' early intervention program, Brighter Futures, to be a success, while also identifying some teeting problems.
Brighter Futures is an innovative program, which has changed the practice of child abuse prevention services in NSW. The program has broken new ground nationally and internationally by developing an evidence-based service model; requiring caseworkers to use validated instruments for assessment and reporting; and being delivered through a cross-sectoral partnership between Community Services and non-government organisations. It is also innovative in specifically targeting families who are at most risk of entering the child protection system.
The Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at the University of New South Wales was commissioned to evaluate the program shortly after its state-wide rollout. SPRC worked in collaboration with researchers from the Centre for Health and Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at the University of Technology, Sydney, who undertook the Economic Evaluation.
The results summarised in this document and detailed in the main report present a picture of program success. However as a consequence of evaluation timing, and the innovative nature of the program, teething problems associated with implementing a new program were identified. Evaluation findings were limited by the narrow timeframe with which we had been able to observe participant families following their exit from the program. Further tracking of participant families is possible as an avenue for future research.
Key findings for each component of the evaluation are provided throughout this report.