Newell, S & Graham, A 2009, 'Lismore Communities for Children Site: final evaluation report', prepared for YWCA, NSW, June.
The Communities for Children (CfC) initiative was a major component of the Australian government’s 2004-09 Stronger Families and Communities Strategy (SFCS), which aimed to:
• help families and communities build better futures for children;
• build family and community capacity;
• support relationships between families and the communities they live in; and
• improve communities’ ability to help themselves.
The SFCS sought to improve early childhood outcomes, in keeping with the National Agenda for Early Childhood’s five evidence-based priority areas: healthy young families; supporting families and parents; early learning and care; child-friendly communities; and family and children’s services working effectively as a system (Social Policy Research Centre, 2005).
The CfC initiative provided large-scale funding for socioeconomically-disadvantaged communities across Australia. Within each site, the funding was given to a Facilitating Partner organisation who was required to work in partnership with other local organisations, including an independent Local Evaluator, in order to plan, develop, implement and evaluate locally-relevant strategies to improve outcomes for children aged 0-5 years, their families and those working with them. This “Facilitating Partner” model represented an innovative and very different way of delivering services, for the government funding body and for the mostly non-government organisations receiving the funding.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT
This report provides a comprehensive overview of the planning, development and first three years of implementation (2006 – early 2009) in the Lismore Communities for Children site, overall and in relation to each of its 11 strategies. It also presents evaluation findings exploring the site’s progress towards achieving each of its 16 main goals, drawing on both community-level and strategy-specific evaluation data collected throughout this period.