The Queen Elizabeth Centre is highly respected for their delivery of early parenting support services. QEC is possibly best known for its ‘sleep school’ – the residential program that has proven a lifeline for thousands of families experiencing sleepless nights, often a cue that the parent-child connection is not tracking so well.
Where the QEC, and services like it, make sustainable impact, is addressing these underlying issues as well as the so-called soft stuff. We know that a strong and healthy bond in families reduces the risks of neglect and trauma. Strengthening the bond between parent and child, and building the confidence of parents, helps to improve health and wellbeing. Immediate benefits are reductions in admission of parents in psychological distress, or children into hospitals for failure to thrive.
While there are a few more Early Parenting Centres opening up, ultimately, having one in every major regional city would enable services to fill the gaps between.
Like nearly everyone else, QEC has had to modify some of their service delivery during the coronavirus pandemic and 50% of their engagement has been via telehealth. While it’s no substitute for face-to-face contact, this combination model has enabled services to outreach more and increased engagement and could be a good model for the future.
Service providers I speak with are united in their view that in-home intensive therapeutic services will help deliver better outcomes, and that joining up the silos between health, education and justice is integral to stopping children falling between the cracks.