Nov 3, 2021

Supporting government reform initiatives in child protection to meet increased demands during the pandemic and beyond

CEI is building system capacity for implementation and scale up of common elements in child and family services

The Family Preservation and Reunification Response is a new Victorian government initiative intended to deliver intensive, evidence-based and coordinated support to children and families.

During 2020, CEI designed a suite of evidence informed modules based on common elements to support the Response and was involved in supporting implementation of the modules across 9 community service organisations (CSO). Common elements are discrete techniques that are commonly found in programs that are supported by evidence. They can be used flexibly by practitioners to account for the context they are working in, and the specific needs of the families for whom they are providing services. They can also be used alongside other evidence-informed interventions to complement - rather than replace - existing approaches or programs.

CEI Director Dr Melinda Polimeni said, “We knew this approach was going to be important for implementing the Response during the COVID-19 pandemic, as family services needed to be flexible and able to adapt to new ways of working with children and families.”

Since 2020, CEI have been partnering with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, who worked with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations across Victoria, to identify culturally specific common elements for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. “This ground-breaking work will aim to support mainstream agencies and practitioners to adopt specific cultural practice techniques that are essential for effective engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Response,” Dr Polimeni said.

More recently CEI has been working to support a state-wide scale up, developing an implementation framework to support 36 community service agencies across the state to adopt and implement the Response. Dr Karla Lopez, CEI Senior Advisor and Project Manager for the Response says, “We know that high quality implementation is really important for good outcomes. CEI has been involved in supporting the Response implementation at a systems level, an agency level, and at the front line. Over the next 6 months we will provide training to over 400 practitioners and help each agency establish a local implementation team to drive implementation at their site. We understand that implementation of evidence-informed practices within a complex service system is an ongoing process of agile adaptation and adjustment, especially during a global pandemic, and we are really excited by the opportunity to support this major reform.”

You can find out more about our common elements approach and implementation work here