Supported playgroups for parents and children

Auteur :

Joanne Commerford and Elly Robinson

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Supported playgroups are playgroups run by a paid facilitator that aim to support families with particular vulnerabilities or needs. Supported playgroups focus on supporting the development and wellbeing of both parents and children. Many also aim to help parents and children to transition to community (i.e., self-managed, unsupported) playgroups.

This paper defines the types of supported playgroups and varying models of implementation in operation in Australia, and assesses the evaluation evidence for their benefits to parents and children. It considers supported playgroup as a soft entry point to other services, and looks to research and evaluation studies that identify important components of supported playgroups.

Key messages

Supported playgroups are run by a paid, qualified facilitator, and target parents who may require additional support to participate in a playgroup.

The role of the facilitator is critical to the success of supported playgroups.

There are varying supported playgroup models in operation and no single set of guidelines or practice principles, making them difficult to research and leading to a lack of cohesion in their implementation.

Research into playgroups is very limited; however, the limited evidence suggests that supported playgroups may improve parents' social supports and increase parents' ability to care for young children. Supported playgroups may also improve children's sociability and create new opportunities for them to learn.

Supported playgroups have potential to be soft entry points linking families to formal supports when needed and to deliver key messages promoting child health.

Further research is needed to help transition parents out of supported playgroups, as current research indicates this is a problematic area for facilitators.