Melbourne School of Population and Global Health - Research Publications
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ItemEarly parenting difficulties: implications for health services policyFisher, Jane ; ROWE, HEATHER ; Tattam, Amanda ( 2005)Australia’s residential early parenting centres are unique internationally and provide a highly valued service to parents and their very young children. Clinical practice in these services has been based on extensive experience, but now needs to be derived from an evidence base. In response to this need, Tweddle Child and Family Health Service (TCFHS) in Melbourne - a public access early parenting service - commissioned a review of literature relating to its practice and a prospective longitudinal survey of a consecutive group of mothers admitted with infants aged up to one year. This article summarises the main findings of both the literature review and the survey. Australia’s public access residential early parenting centres are a unique national resource and were established initially for the care of abandoned, relinquished or mistreated young children. Over time their purpose and function has altered to reflect social change associated with reduction in relinquishment of children for adoption, and policies that have sought to minimise removal of children from parental care. Now they focus on assisting parents to improve caretaking capacity. There are no equivalent services in any other country in the world. In general, services for parents experiencing difficulty caring for their infants in industrialised countries are based in primary health care of outreach home visiting services. Consumer satisfaction surveys indicate that parents value early parenting services highly, but as yet there is a limited evidence base to their clinical practice.