Phase 4: 2011-14

During the final funding phase, Healthy Start continued to increase service system capacity to better enable practitioners to support parents with learning difficulties and their children. The project did this by providing ways for service providers and practitioners, researchers, and policy makers to:

  • exchange ideas and share expertise to enhance professional knowledge and skills
  • access research and practice evidence about supporting parents and children
  • access, mentor or become well-networked leaders promoting best practice.

Phase 3: 2009-11

The third phase of Healthy Start focused on strengthening collaboration within the national Practice Network to encourage greater interaction and exchange between members of Network and to increase their capacity to share resources. Our vision was to support service providers and community leaders who are confident in their capability to advocate for families, and to promote use of best practice programs and service delivery to families.

Phase three also included supporting the Healthy Start Practice Network through training, online study opportunities and to develop local resources. At the same time, the Parenting Research Centre and University of Sydney teams conducted a research program to develop new Healthy Start resources. Research topics included:

  • fathering with intellectual disability
  • school-age children of parents with intellectual disability
  • representation of parents with learning difficulties in policy and media
  • pre- and post-service learning modules
  • group delivery mode of Healthy and Safe
  • experience of children of parents with learning difficulties.

During phase three the Healthy Start website was revamped to improve usability and to introduce a service for practitioners to easily make contact with colleagues. An online network platform was added to support professionals, practitioners and researchers to communicate and collaborate and share ideas and resources for working with parents with learning difficulties.

The Healthy Start online Practice Network is designed to allow users to sign up and connect with others, join discussions or share information and invite colleagues in their networks to join.

Phase 2: 2008-09

The second phase of Healthy Start saw a strengthened focus on local Practice Network conveners as leaders on parenting with intellectual disability. During this phase Healthy Start was active in the following ways:

  • offered online studies through the University of Sydney
  • provided small grants for practice networks to act on local solutions to identified gaps or needs for families in their community
  • developed and trialled Step by Step Baby Care DVD; Step by Step Everyday Interactions DVD; and the Understanding and Planning Support report.

Phase 1: 2005-08

Healthy Start achieved three major tasks during the first development phase:

  1. built local leadership and a national Healthy Start network
  2. trained 400 practitioners in evidence-based parent education and support programs
  3. developed and evaluated innovative resources

Building leadership involved identifying leaders in each Australian state and territory to help set up Healthy Start in their local areas. These leaders completed online studies in parenting with intellectual disability through the University of Sydney.

Over the first three and a half years of Healthy Start, over 400 practitioners were trained in evidence-based parent education and support programs. Workers received training in Parenting Young Children and Healthy and Safe: An Australian Parent Education Kit.

During this phase Healthy Start also developed and evaluated two new innovative resources:

  1. Healthy Start for Me and My Baby
  2. The Australian Supported Learning Program: Me and My Community.

The Parenting Research Centre acknowledges and respects the diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this country and the Elders of the past, present and future.