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“Somebody I know and trust”: What works to engage young parents? A research partnership between School of Nursing and Midwifery, UWS, and The Benevolent Society, Foundations for Young Parents program, Campbelltown. University of Western Sydney Ass/Professor Virginia Schmied Dr Annie Mills

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The research team

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“Somebody I know and trust”:What works to engage young parents?A research partnership between School of Nursing and Midwifery, UWS, and The Benevolent Society, Foundations for Young Parents program, Campbelltown

University of Western Sydney

Ass/Professor Virginia Schmied

Dr Annie Mills

Ass/Professor Hannah Dahlen

Ms Toni Azzopardi

Dr Christine Taylor

The Benevolent Society

Ms Wies Schuiringa

Ms Margaret Hudson

The research team

  • Foundations for Young Parents Program

  • funded by Families NSW

  • commenced late 2008

  • target group: parents younger than 20 yrs in Campbelltown LGA,

  • can take parents up to 25 years

  • voluntary program

    • home visiting and groups

  • focus: enhancing parenting skills

Aims of the research

  • • To describe and evaluate the strategies used to engage young parents in the ‘Foundations for Young Parents’ (FFYP) program

  • • To describe young parents’ perceptions and experiences of participating in the FFYP

Data Collection process

  • Staff explained the research to the young parents and gave a flyer explaining the research

  • Research staff attended the groups to introduce themselves and the research project

  • Recruitment through the 2 weekly young parents groups and by staff asking young parents

  • Interviews and brief demographic survey

  • Two focus groups – one at each of the weekly groups

  • Written consent was obtained prior to participation

  • Young parents received a gift voucher to thank them for their time and effort

  • A total of 14 young parents participated in focus groups and/ or interview

  • Three staff participated in a focus group

Interview and the focus group questions

  • How did you find out about the service?

  • What attracted you to accepting the invitation to attend the group or the home visit?

  • What were your first thoughts about the service?

  • What did you like most about the service?

  • How do you think participation in the service has helped you?

Engagement strategies used by the FFYP staff

  • Engaging the young parents:

  • during preparation to parenthood/ ante natal classes for young parents

  • during the weekly young parents groups for home visiting

  • following up referrals from the Perinatal Referral Meeting and other services

  • Facebook & word of mouth

  • making links with other service providers by attendance at the Youth interagency, other interagencies, attending the CFHN meeting

  • Sustaining engagement, themes from the focus group with staff:

  • ‘those first couple of visits just to be there’

  • assessment ‘I don’t do that for at least 2-3 weeks, after they’ve gotten to know me’

  • text messages to newly referred and existing young parents to maintain contact

  • use of Facebook

  • What were young parents’ experiences

  • of engaging with the FFYP?

  • The research findings:

What did the young parents say how theyheard about the service:

  • consistent with the strategies used by the staff

  • some mention was made that information was not necessarily easy to find.

How did the young parents feel about becoming part of the service/ group?

  • anxious, scared, embarrassed or nervous attending a group for the first time or receiving a home visit for the first time

  • worried about the stigma of being a young parent or about living with the father of the baby and having a planned pregnancy

  • concerned about “being told how to raise my children”, “this is how it is going to be done”

What young parents worried about engaging with a service provider

  • feeling judged about the mess in their house,

  • feeling that they were being “checked up on”

  • they “tell me what to do”, “this is how it is going to be done”

  • the groups not being friendly or relaxing

  • parenting information being presented in a didactic manner, as a directive

What did the young parents like about the groups

  • social contact and making connections, not feeling isolated anymore, the friendly environment

  • peer support with young women of a similar age“ ’specially like with older Mums with their careers and homes and just like … boring”

  • support with parenting: learning from each other, given options and not a directive by staff

What they liked about home visiting

  • already knew the staff member

  • the practical and tangible activities

  • “calming me down”

  • advice and suggestions “but does not tell me what to do”

  • “it’s just so relaxing to have a home visitor there … someone to talk with who is not my partner, not my best friend …not sure how she sees it”


  • The relationship between the young parent and the staff member is crucial for the young parent to be comfortable enough to engage with the service and be receptive to talking about parenting

  • Staff need to develop these relationships with the young parents:

    • taking time to develop familiarity,

    • easy to get along with,

    • not an authority figure,

    • becoming comfortable to talk with about parenting and anything else that impacts on the young parent’s life

  • This staff member is:

  • “Somebody I know and trust”

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