Karen Berry

MPhil candidate

Evaluation of a Residential Parenting Centre Support Program for Vulnerable Families with Infants and Toddlers.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Jennifer Fraser and Associate Professor Kim Foster


The Ellen Barron Family Centre is an Early Parenting Centre (EPC). Early Parenting Centres (EPCs) are unique to Australia (Rowe & Fisher, 2010; Treyvaud, Rogers, Matthews, & Allen, 2009). Similar primary health programs use outreach home visiting as a strategy to support parents with early parenting interventions in other countries (Fisher, Rowe, & Tattam, 2005; Phillips, Sharpe, & Nemeth, 2010) The goal of EPCs is to increase the use of positive parenting behaviours by improving parenting knowledge and raising confidence in parenting.
The centre offers two distinct residential parenting programs. The program examined in this study will be the Extended Parenting Education Program (EPEP). Parents/caregivers offered this program are usually families who are experiencing extremely complex parenting issues. These issues include limited parenting skills related to risk factors such as child protection concerns; mental illness; substance abuse; family violence past and present; learning disability. Many families offered the program are with Child Safety Services (CSS), who may have recommended them to the program.
My literature review revealed that although there is government support for residential parenting programs, there is little information available in relation to whether or not these targeted programs have the desired effect in relation to influencing parenting capacity, parenting self efficacy and parenting satisfaction.

Aim of study

To evaluate an Extended Parenting Education Program (EPEP) in the context of an Early Parenting Centre.

Study Questions:
  1. How is EPEP implemented in the context of a nurse-led Early Parenting Residential Education Centre?
  2. What are the facilitators and barriers to implementation and outcome of EPEP?
  3. What influence does EPEP have on parenting capacity, parenting self efficacy and satisfaction with the parenting role

The study will use a case study design to conduct a descriptive qualitative evaluation of the EPEP program as it is delivered in a nurse-led EPC. The evaluation will examine implementation of the program, and assess its impact on anticipated outcomes: parenting capacity, parenting self efficacy and parenting satisfaction.