Sarah Conway


Sarah Conway was a member of the Family Foundations Evaluation Reference Group and oversees the Family Foundations program on behalf of the ACT Government’s Community Services Directorate. Sarah has extensive experience working in partnership with community organisations to achieve positive outcomes to support vulnerable children, young people and families in the ACT.


Family Foundations evaluation – Lessons learnt on delivering an integrated early intervention parenting support strategy (Oral Paper Presentation)

To give children the best chance of healthy development we need to support the parents who care for them. The Family Foundations evaluation, commissioned by the ACT Community Services Directorate, provides guidance on how to best deliver parenting support.

Family Foundations is an early intervention therapeutic program designed to promote strong, secure and healthy relationships between children aged 0-5 years and their parents/carers. The intended target audience are parents/carers needing flexible (i.e. non-structured) support to explore their concerns and difficulties while building understanding and insight into their child’s needs. These are families with difficulties but not in crisis (i.e. not involved in statutory systems). The program provides face-to-face sessions with one or more members of the family. Typically, the sessions include the primary carer for a child and the Family Foundations practitioner.

Available evidence revealed that Family Foundations contributed to improved parenting capacity and enhanced parent-child attachment. Reported and observed changes in parenting knowledge, attitudes and practices were attributable to Family Foundation’s practitioners’ adoption of a ‘child development master narrative’ (L’Hote et al., 2018). However, for all the success of Family Foundations, the evaluation also confirmed the importance of blended prevention (Prinz, 2015). Combining universal and targeted parenting supports (e.g. structured, manualised parenting programs and Family Foundations) in an integrated strategy supports the best results for parents.

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