Early support highly valued by parents in the child protection system

Early support highly valued by parents in the child protection system

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

IFAS mid-term evaluation graphic

An independent review of our non-legal advocacy service, Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS), shows it is highly valued in assisting parents to navigate the child protection system and get a better outcome for their family.

The three-year pilot program operating in Darebin/Moreland and Greater Bendigo is a flagship initiative of our Child Protection Transformation project.

The mid-term evaluation of the pilot by RMIT University shows that overall, IFAS has been highly successful.

‘The IFAS clients interviewed for the review were universally positive about the service.' 

Amy Schwebel, Acting Executive Director, Family, Youth and Children’s Law.

‘The mid-term evaluation says IFAS helped clients with a system they reported as difficult to navigate and helped parents better understand their rights,’ said Amy.

IFAS supports parents and primary carers in the early stages of child protection involvement through information, coaching for self-advocacy and direct advocacy.

IFAS employs a senior advocate, two advocates and a lived experience consultant to ensure client voice is central in the service’s design and operation. Up until February 2020, the service assisted 99 families across the two pilot areas.

‘IFAS is prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and parents living with an intellectual disability – and the mid-term evaluation shows it has been successful in reaching those families in the pilot areas.'

Helen Makregiorgos, IFAS Manager.

‘We’re also pleased to see that IFAS is providing early assistance to many people who have family violence or mental health issues intersecting with the child protection concerns,’ said Helen.

The mid-term evaluation found clear evidence that IFAS is reaching its goal of diverting families in the child protection system from the court system.

‘This demonstrates the value of providing early, non-legal advocacy to parents to help them understand their rights and responsibilities, and identify and work towards their goals for their family,’ said Amy.

We are now implementing the recommendations of the mid-term evaluation, which include enhancing data collection and maximising the role of IFAS’ lived experience group, Shared Experience and Support (SEaS).

The final evaluation report of IFAS will be delivered in May 2021, and the pilot concludes in the second half of 2021.

‘We are exploring potential future options for IFAS beyond the pilot period because we’re confident its working well for families,’ said Amy.

More information

Download the Midterm evaluation of Independent Family Advocacy and Support (pdf, 1.37 MB) by RMIT’s Social and Global Studies centre, or a Word version (2.42 MB).

Download a IFAS mid-term evaluation summary (pdf, 86.58 KB) or the accessible Word version (553.72 KB).

Read more about IFAS.

Read more about Child Protection.

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