Sustaining NSW Families (SNF) is a NSW Government initiative to support families having babies. It aims to promote healthy, happy and safe environments to support families to reach their full potential. NSW Health has established the SNF Program to support eligible families with children up to two years of age. The program operates in nine locations across NSW.
A 2015 external evaluation of the program showed that the program was working well within the early childhood health service and that there were many benefits for families and children that participated in the program.
What is the Sustaining NSW Families program?
SNF is a sustained health home visiting service that aims to strengthen relationships between children, parents, and/or carers; build parenting capacity; and enhance child development, wellbeing, and health.
The program is offered to families who meet eligibility criteria which include mothers experiencing mild anxiety and or mild depression and circumstances which are known to have an impact on the family.
SNF is led by specially trained Child and Family Health nurses and is offered free to eligible families, ideally starting during pregnancy and continuing until the child’s second birthday.
The program assists participating families through:
- a partnership and strengths-based approach to working with families
- regular detailed assessments of children and families
- early and supported referrals to other services when needed
- using a structured, program tailored to each family’s needs
- supporting parents with the transition to parenting and for each phase of their child’s development
- providing health promotion and brief interventions to ensure a healthy and stimulating environment for children.
SNF clinicians work in partnership with other service providers, including General Practitioners and maternity care providers. During pregnancy, families continue to receive maternity care from their preferred health provider.
The program also compliments the range of universal services provided by Child and Family Health services. SNF is available to families receiving care from Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Services (AMIHS) and Aboriginal Medical Services.
How do families benefit from home visiting programs?
Evidence from previous local and international health home visiting programs has shown that families benefit through improved home environment; secure parent-child relationships; child development; and increased immunisation and breastfeeding maintenance rates, as well as decreased rates of child abuse and neglect.
The Sustaining NSW Families teams
Each SNF team consists of a Nurse Coordinator, Child and Family Health Nurses, a Social Worker and part time Allied Health Members.
Allied Health Members include: Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Physiotherapists, Perinatal Psychiatrists or Psychologists, Dietitians, and some teams may have a Multicultural Liaison Officer, an Aboriginal Health Education Officer and a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor. The Allied Health team provides specialist advice to the nurses to work with parents in addressing any issues that may be impacting on parenting or child development. They contribute to case review and management, and also facilitate referrals to other services for families requiring them.
Where is the Sustaining NSWF Families program available?
SNF is currently offered in the following geographical locations:
- Central Coast LGA
- Lower Hunter/Newcastle LGA
- Arncliffe/St George/Sutherland
- Kyogle/Lismore/Richmond Valley/Ballina
- Illawarra Shoalhaven
Eligibility and referral to the Sustaining NSW Families program
Eligible families are those who live in any of the SNF program’s geographical locations and meet the SNF criteria when reviewed by the coordinator. It is important to note that evidence supports the program being most effective for families who are experiencing particular risk factors, and is therefore only offered to families who meet the specific criteria.
Families are identified through the comprehensive health assessment provided universally to all pregnant women who are booking into a public hospital. As part of this health assessment, all NSW Health providers of antenatal and community based Child and Family Health services are required to offer the SAFESTART assessment in order to identify factors that may have an impact on the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of mothers and their children.
Potential families will be referred to the SNF Clinical Coordinator who will visit the family to further assess the family’s interest, suitability and eligibility, and to seek their consent to participate in the program.
Families who choose not to access the public health system may also be referred to the program, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and undergo an equivalent assessment through a private health care provider.
The program should, where ever possible, be commenced early in pregnancy; however, families with infants under four weeks of age can be considered under certain circumstances.
Where do I find out more?
To find more about the program, contact the Sustaining NSW Families Clinical Coordinator at the relevant site below.
Lower Hunter/ Newcastle LGA
Phone: (02) 8717 1720
Phone: (02) 6620 2967
Fax: (02) 6620 2963
Phone: (02) 4633 4141