An exploration of the family partnership model in New Zealand

An exploration of the family partnership model in ...
01 May 2009
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This Families Commission report explores the potential value of the Family Partnership Model (FPM) for New Zealand agencies and organisations that work with families in the community.

The FPM focuses on the process of establishing an effective working relationship with families and therefore has the potential to build the capacity of a diverse range of practitioners who work with families. The FPM promotes an integrated approach to address three key issues affecting the provision of family support: the identification of unmet mental health need in the community; barriers to interagency collaboration; and the need for skilled clinical supervision for front-line practitioners. By addressing these problems within a single framework, this model can help community agencies to engage and work more effectively with children and their families.

As a short, focused additional training module, the FPM may be an effective way of improving existing services, whether universal or targeted, by helping front-line practitioners to work more skilfully to intervene or refer promptly in complex family situations. It also has additional value as the skills gained can improve communication generally in any setting. A number of agencies have expressed interest in the FPM and some are training, or have already trained, their staff in this approach. Conference and seminar presentations on the FPM by the authors have also drawn interest from policy analysts and practitioners. This suggests the FPM has potential for existing services working in the field with New Zealand families.

 

Purpose

This report describes the Family Partnership Model (FPM) and explores its potential for family support services in the New Zealand context. The objective of the study was to assess interest in this model by the various agencies and organisations which have contact with families in the community and to seek their views on its appropriateness for their staff and service users. 

Key Results

A number of agencies have expressed interest in the FPM and some are training, or have already trained, their staff in this approach. Conference and seminar presentations on the FPM by the authors have also drawn interest from policy analysts and practitioners. This suggests the FPM has potential for existing services working in the field with New Zealand families.

Although training has at times been undertaken with participants from different agencies both in the UK and New Zealand, it is not known how this has affected their collaboration in situations where they are working with the same families. It is possible that a deliberate strategy to train people from the same geographical areas, but from different agencies, might encourage collaborative relationships, and there is anecdotal evidence to this effect (Davis, 2007a; Lamont, 20057 ). However, it would be important to evaluate not only the effects of inter-agency collaboration, but also its contribution to meaningful and measurable family outcomes.

It is recognised that agencies often provide supervision for their staff, but it is not known how regularly, and whether it is peer supervision or a higher level of clinical supervision. There is no doubt that supervision adds to service overheads, not only in staff time but also the costs of professional supervisors. However, regular access to skilled supervision for practitioners working with complex family problems is essential for optimum family outcomes. As Davis, Day, and Bidmead suggest, the way forward may be:

...to develop a network that forms an effective system of care, and not a set of discrete workers with entirely different and seemingly unrelated roles. A system of care refers to a universal service that works with parents systematically to promote the psychosocial development of their children to prevent problems from arising, to identify special need early, and to evaluate effective strategies at the appropriate level of specialisation... (2002).

As a short, focused additional training module, the FPM may be an effective way of improving existing services, whether universal or targeted, by helping front-line practitioners to work more skilfully to intervene or refer promptly in complex family situations. It also has additional value as the skills gained can improve communication generally in any setting.

The FPM also has the potential to eliminate barriers between agencies and organisations, building trust and encouraging communication across sectors. Training in this approach will take time, money and commitment from government, stakeholders and practitioners. However, better support services which can recognise family difficulties before they escalate, and help practitioners to work together where problems are complex, can be cost-effective and beneficial for children and their families.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018