Voices and Choices Behavioural Insights Brighter Futures Trial
In March 2015, NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) commenced a series of Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) projects to inform how best to redesign FACS processes using insights from the behavioural sciences to improve client outcomes.
This included a project exploring the behavioural factors that influence how families who are referred to the Brighter Futures program make decisions about engagement and sustained participation in the program.
FACS BIU presented the project’s key findings to the FACS Executive Board on 16 June 2016. At that meeting it was agreed that FACS BIU would come back to the Board with recommendations at a later date.
The final project report was endorsed by the FACS Executive Board on 24 November 2016. The Board endorsed FACS BIU’s recommendation to test a new model of support for vulnerable families. The details and design of the model is currently being developed between all involved agencies and families, where possible.
Brighter Futures Reform
The Brighter Futures program is undergoing significant reform. The reform includes a trial of SafeCare, an evidence-based training curriculum for parents who have been reported for child maltreatment which is being trialled in nine BF sites. In addition, the Brighter Futures Service Provision Guidelines (SPG) have been revised to improve referral system and service intensity. These have now been in place since 7 August 2017.
The role of this trial is to test a new model of support for vulnerable families at Brighter Futures selected sites based on
the recommendations made by the BIU. The new model will continue to be guided by the revised SPG with additional BIU
elements embedded throughout the life of the program. The four critical core components of the trial are:
Building self-regulation capabilities:
- build core self-regulation capabilities in parents through ensuring supports are attractive and effortless for families;
- help build the relationships between families and practitioners.
Giving voice and choice to families:
- facilitate and build self determination of families;
- enhance the family’s capacity to make decisions, exercise choice control;
- make the service person-centred and based on the values and outcomes that are important to families;
- facilitate support that is flexible and can be tailored to a family’s needs and choices.
Focussing on environmental stress factors:
- identify and address the family’s environmental stress factors such as housing and employment as well as build their social and support networks.
Addressing traumatic experiences:
- provide families ’therapeutic (trauma-specific) services to address unresolved trauma
- embed trauma-informed care principles in the ethos and practice of the program
A recent good news story following the planning for the trial can be found at https://shiningalight.facs.nsw.gov.au/previous-years/2017/freedom
A select tender process was engaged and was open to all Brighter Futures providers.
The selected sites are:
- Mission Australia, Orana Far West Brighter Futures, Broken Hill
- Mission Australia, Shoalhaven Brighter Futures, Nowra
- Uniting Care Burnside, Macarthur Brighter Futures
Voices and Choices Evaluation Report
This report presents findings from a rigorous multi-year evaluation of the Voices and Choices program. Voices and Choices is a model developed by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) to improve child and family outcomes and reduce children's risk of harm. The program is designed to enhance the voice and choice of families into case plans that guide the service delivery they receive, build parents' self-regulation capabilities, focus on environmental stress factors and address traumatic experiences.
The aim of this evaluation was to test the feasibility of the Voices and Choices model and gather data on effectiveness to determine the extent to which the model improves outcomes for children and families.
In this report, the Evaluation Team — the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, Monash University and the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia — describe the evidence suggesting Voices and Choices is feasible and a promising model for vulnerable families who have not yet had significant interaction with the child protection system. Further, our evidence suggests this model is of particular benefit for Aboriginal families who participate in the program via a community referral.