Family empowerment program ENVISAGE Families close to being rolled out
The Department of Paediatrics and the Healthy Trajectories Child and Youth Disability Research Hub are upscaling the family empowerment program called ENVISAGE.
Parenting is a dance led by the children. Image copyright ENVISAGE.
The program, which the research team has been developing over the past few years, is now poised for implementation across Australia.
Parenting is a tough task, and parenting a child whose development might be complicated by a disability or developmental concerns can be even harder. We know that caregivers want to do a good job when caring for their child or children, and there can be a lot of extra stress and strain on caregivers as they work to find ways to support their child’s development and family’s needs. That need has been recognised with a new and fully funded peer support program that is now available to parents and caregivers nationally, called ENVISAGE Families.
ENVISAGE is a new and innovative program available for caregivers early in the experience of raising children with developmental concerns or disability, and service providers working in early child development across Australia.
The program is composed of four related programs:
- ENVISAGE Families: a unique, evidence-based program that supports and empowers caregivers raising children with developmental concerns or disabilities.
- ENVISAGE FIRST Peoples: a culturally safe program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families that helps parents feel strong and deadly, especially when they are worried about their jarjum.
- ENVISAGE Service Providers: ensuring professionals working with families raising children with developmental concerns are collaborating well and working in partnership with families, while also enhancing professional capabilities and capacity.
- ENVISAGE International: the cultural adaptation of ENVISAGE Families, to support families where English is not the primary language used at home.
Together, these programs comprise ‘ENVISAGE’.
The team co-designing, evaluating, and implementing ENVISAGE is an international (Australian/Canadian), multi-organisation, cross-disciplinary collaboration of caregivers, service providers and researchers. Collectively, they have extensive lived experience and/or professional expertise in childhood disability, service provision, service management, peer support, evaluation, and research.
ENVISAGE was created because caregivers told us: (i) there is no road map to raising a child with a disability; (ii) caregivers felt isolated, alone, and overwhelmed; and (iii) caregivers needed and wanted to feel empowered, confident, and connected to make evidence-informed decisions that supported outcomes not only for their child with developmental concerns, but also the whole family and their community.
The ENVISAGE program was co-designed by caregivers, clinicians, and researchers, and offers five integrated workshops that can be delivered online or in-person. ENVISAGE provides families with evidence-based information, family-focused strategies, and a community of support through peer connections. Discussions are co-facilitated by a trained caregiver with lived experience (parent-peer), and a qualified early childhood professional, and are designed to empower, support, and connect caregivers.
ENVISAGE is evidence-based. The uniqueness of ENVISAGE lies in its demonstrated ability to positively change caregiver, family, and community attitudes towards people with disabilities. We undertook a four-phased, research-focused development of ENVISAGE to establish and publish the evidence base. Rigorous evaluation of the program has demonstrated that ENVISAGE increases caregivers' confidence in parenting children with developmental disabilities, empowering them to take strengths-based, future-focused approaches to their child, family, and community.
ENVISAGE is now scaled and funded through a Department of Social Services grant for delivery across Australia. Scalability is supported through their ENVISAGE Facilitator training program (which involves engagement with the ENVISAGE-Service Provider program), partnerships with service providers in every state and territory, and ongoing tailoring to local contexts. They now offer ENVISAGE Families and ENVISAGE First Peoples to families across Australia, with the capacity to reach 2000 caregivers over the next 2.5 years.
Parents and caregivers living in Australia can register their interest so that they too can have the opportunity to ENable VISions And Grow Expectations for their family now and into the future.
For more information or to sign up, visit their website https://envisage.community/.
ENVISAGE-Service Providers is about to start recruiting in Australia and in Canada. To register your interest please visit this form here.
Or, make contact with a member of the Australian team: