4G The first 1000 days
Sure Steps: trialling a Family Coaching model with families in public housing
Sure Steps is a pilot program investigating what family coaching could look like for families living in public housing.
Families in public housing are at high risk of being left behind. Their housing may be stable but the complex issues that made them eligible are still ongoing.
Logan agency YFS Ltd introduced Sure Steps to test a new way of engaging and working with families who are highly vulnerable and have complex needs. The program assists families by helping them to articulate their aspirations for themselves and their children and then supporting them to achieve these goals.
The Sure Steps program seeks to use a two-generational approach to:
- Improve the prospects (opportunities to learn, grow and thrive) of children whose parents participate in the program
- Improve wellbeing of families who take part in the program
- Identify service system improvements and opportunities that can help vulnerable families achieve their goals.
As a new program, the service seeks to test alternatives to traditional family support programs and to identify service system improvements that may support vulnerable families to achieve their goals. The program aims to test and refine the proposed critical success factors that include:
- Stability (maintained tenancy)
- A positive hopeful/future orientation (goal setting and achievement)
- Sense of control/agency in decision making (a belief that goal achievement is possible)
- Understanding about children’s needs
- Overcoming service system barriers.
An evaluation of the first stage of the pilot by the Parenting Research Centre has found that the great majority of participants agreed that its core aspects of being aspirationally focused, flexible and directed at the family as a unit produced positive changes for the participating families and great satisfaction with the program.
The families taking part in the evaluation believed that the program was very helpful for them and expressed a very high satisfaction level with the Family Coaches. The reported improvements included:
– becoming more independent
– being more aware of what services and supports were available in the community
– increased understanding of parenting
– becoming increasingly skilled in dealing with children’s challenging behaviours.
Families also reported starting to think more about and making plans for their future.
The pilot raised questions for further investigation in the next phase about the needs and priorities of highly-vulnerable families, strategies to engage successfully, and the best ways to respond to issues such as safety concerns while retaining participants’ sense of control.
Christine Grose has over three decades of direct service delivery and management experience in the community sector – in particular in the areas of homelessness and youth at risk. Christine is a Director at Common Ground Queensland, and has served on numerous other community Management Committees throughout her career. Her focus for her voluntary and paid work is on implementing structural change and supporting community capacity-building, in the service of social justice. She currently works as a Client Services Manager at YFS Ltd, a medium-sized Community Services organisation in the community of Logan, South East Queensland.