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    Community volunteer support for families with young children: protocol for the Volunteer Family Connect randomized controlled trial

    Grace, R. and Kemp, L. and Barnes, Jacqueline and Elcombe, E. and Knight, J. and Baird, K. and Webster, V. and Byrne, F. (2018) Community volunteer support for families with young children: protocol for the Volunteer Family Connect randomized controlled trial. JMIR Research Protocols 7 (7), e10000. ISSN 1929-0748.

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    Introduction: Use of community volunteers to support vulnerable families is a widely employed strategy with a long history. However, there has been minimal formal scientific investigation into the effectiveness of volunteer home visiting programs for families. There is also a need for research examining whether volunteer home visiting leads to improved outcomes for volunteers. This paper describes the research protocol for a pragmatic randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the Volunteer Family Connect intervention, a volunteer home visiting program designed to support families of young children who experience social isolation and/or a lack of parenting confidence and skills. The project is being conducted in partnership with three leading not-for-profit organisations, designed to contribute to the body of evidence that informs decisions about appropriate family support services according to level of need. It is the first study to examine both outcomes for the families and for the volunteers who deliver the service. Methods: The RCT is being conducted in seven sites across Australia. We aim to recruit 300 families to the study, 150 control (services as usual), and 150 intervention (services as usual + volunteer home visiting) families. Intervention families receive the service for between 3 and 12 months according to need, and all participants complete six data collection points over 15 months. A minimum of 80 volunteers will also be recruited, along with a matched community comparison group. Volunteers will complete three data collection points over 12 months. Primary outcomes include community connectedness and parenting competence. Secondary outcomes include parent physical and mental health, general parent wellbeing, parent empowerment, child-parent relationship, sustainability of family routines, child immunization, child nutrition/breastfeeding, number of accidental injury reports, and volunteer health, wellbeing and community connectedness. Discussion: There is a need to rigorously assess volunteer home visiting and whether it has a unique and important role on the service landscape, complementary to professional services. This research is the first trial of a volunteer home visiting program to be conducted in Australia and one of the largest of its kind worldwide.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Jacqueline Barnes
    Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 13:21
    Last Modified: 20 Jun 2021 00:50


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