Family coaching program promotes housing stability
An innovative pilot program using coaches to help Queensland families in public housing has shown promise in improving families’ emotional wellbeing, a Parenting Research Centre evaluation has found.
Following our recent evaluation of the Sure Steps program, the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works has refunded the program for another two years.
Sure Steps is run by the non-profit organisation YFS Ltd in collaboration with Logan Together. It looks at new ways to help families living in public housing who are at risk of losing their tenancy.
It takes a holistic approach to this challenge, acknowledging families’ wider environment and that housing issues are part of a much bigger picture.
Sure Steps helps parents foster their children’s development as well as improve their own wellbeing.
The program encourages parents to set goals for their family and their children and act to achieve those goals. It is designed to ensure the participating families maintain stable and affordable housing. Also, it seeks to improve opportunities for children to thrive and overcome barriers to families accessing the supports they need.
“Our evaluation found that Sure Steps used a number of innovative strategies to keep families engaged,” said Parenting Research Centre Specialist Elbina Avdagic.
“These included taking a strengths-based approach and putting families in the driver’s seat. This allowed them to choose their goals and viewed them as experts.
“Families were positive about a number of aspects of the program, particularly advocacy. This was where coaches helped them with appointments, linking to services and improving their relationships with their child’s school.”
Emphasis on building relationships
The program’s voluntary, non-prescriptive nature, its flexibility and emphasis on building relationships were also critical factors in achieving positive change.
Families reported becoming more independent and being more aware of what services and supports were available to them. In addition, they gained increased understanding of parenting and became better able to deal with children’s challenging behaviours.
Staff in the Sure Steps program also saw changes in parent wellbeing. These included improvements in mental health, daily functioning, social connections and confidence.
However, the level and frequency of domestic violence and intergenerational trauma among families meant this needed to take priority over the developmental aspects of the program. This suggests that linking Sure Steps with other related services or programs could help staff stay focussed on working with families on goal setting and skill building.