An Evaluation of a Volunteer-Support Program for Families At Risk

Authors


  • Larni Kelleher is Lecturer, School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, College of Social and Health Sciences, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Maree Johnson is Research Professor, School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, College of Social and Health Sciences, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Larni Kelleher, School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, Bankstown Campus, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith Sth. DC., NSW 1797, Australia. E-mail: l.kelleher@uws.edu.au

Abstract

Abstract  A descriptive comparative design was used to evaluate the Cottage Community Care Pilot Project, a family support/child protection initiative linking trained volunteers with “vulnerable” first-time parents. Fifty-eight eligible and consenting families enrolled in the program and formed the intervention group. A further 35 eligible families consented to participate in the evaluation and received assessments only and formed the comparison group. No differences were evident between the intervention and comparison groups on parenting readiness. For the intervention group (n = 25), improvements occurred in seven aspects of family functioning (items on the Scale of Family Functioning) when contrasted to the comparison group (n = 24). Two areas of family functioning were found to be statistically significant: access to social support (p = 0.02) and age appropriate expectations of infants (p < 0.001). Participants reported satisfaction with the program, and the study emphasized the need to include all families, not just those at risk. This evaluation supports the continued development of volunteer-support programs and the active role that public health nurses play in the growth and development of children in our communities.

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