How outreach facilitates family engagement with universal early childhood health and education services in Tasmania, Australia: An ethnographic study

Kim Jose, Catherine L. Taylor, Alison Venn, Rachael Jones, David Preen, Paula Wyndow, M'Lynda L. Stubbs, Emily Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Tasmanian early childhood services (ECS) are attempting to improve their engagement with vulnerable families and increase the uptake of universal health and education services in this population. This paper presents qualitative findings from the [name] Study, focusing on the scope and role of outreach in supporting family engagement in the Tasmanian ECS. Using an ethnographic study design, over 100 naturalistic observations were recorded in health and education ECS settings in Tasmanian communities between April 2017 and February 2018. In addition, 42 ECS providers and 32 parents/guardians with pre-school aged children participated in semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts and observation field notes were analysed thematically, focusing on family engagement and the role of outreach across three key universal ECS. Outreach was undertaken by all services involved in this study, but varied in practice and scope. Outreach was not directed at specific population groups, but was instigated in response to an identified need with more vulnerable families to address issues of inequity in service access. Policies and strategic frameworks within services provided little or no guidance about outreach beyond procedures for conducting home visits. Attending specialised services alongside parents, a strategy adopted by one service, was particularly effective for facilitating connection to services for vulnerable families. The capacity of services to offer outreach was constrained by structured service systems, individual providers’ skills and capability, resource limitations and lack of clarity with respect to policies and procedures. Outreach activities are occurring within the universal ECS system in Tasmania, facilitating engagement with vulnerable Tasmanian families and children. Flexible service systems, building the skills and capacities of service providers and clearer policies and procedures would enable services to more fully embed outreach practices within existing ECS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Volume53
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'How outreach facilitates family engagement with universal early childhood health and education services in Tasmania, Australia: An ethnographic study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this