Volunteer Family Connect (VFC) is a structured social relationship program. It matches families of young children who are reporting feeling isolated or lacking in parenting confidence, with volunteers within their own community who have experience working with children and who have been trained to support families who are vulnerable. The volunteers visit the family on a weekly basis for up to one year. The role of the volunteer is to work with the family to identify activities and people they would like to have in their lives, and to support them in connecting with the community resources that are available to them to meet their goals.
Prior to the commencement of TeEACH, researchers (Grace, Baird & Kemp) conducted a multi-state randomised-controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of this program and demonstrated significant positive outcomes both for the families and for the volunteers.
This work has continued to grow with the research team now looking at VFC’s effectiveness in Aboriginal communities and for people with disabilities. We are also examining its effectiveness in an online format. In addition, TeEACH has developed a comprehensive online training program available to all community volunteers called ‘Foundations for Connection’, that is designed to build capacity in the volunteer sector in the application of a strengths-based approach in their interactions with vulnerable community members.