Childcare project helps vulnerable mothers

Monday, 26 May 2008

A national project to improve the bond between mothers and their young children could change the way childcare is delivered throughout Australia, according to University of Adelaide public health evaluation expert Paul Aylward.

Mr Aylward, from the University's Discipline of General Practice, has evaluated a six-month early intervention project targeted at "high risk" families, where mothers suffering from anxiety, depression, social isolation or trauma have problems relating to their children.

The Lady Gowrie Child Centre in Adelaide managed the project, which was run over a three-year period in five centres throughout three states, involving more than 100 families. The project involved childcare workers and clinicians providing one-on-one support and therapy to families at risk.

"The results have been outstanding," says Mr Aylward, "with more than 85% of mothers reporting huge, lasting improvements in their child's behaviour and their own wellbeing. Fathers have also benefited, leading to happier, healthier home environments."

The program used a broad range of techniques to improve mother/child relationships, including video interacting sessions and intensive individual and group work.

"This project has reinforced the importance of early childhood intervention in setting up long-term parenting and child development improvements," Mr Aylward says. "The impacts have been profound on both the families and the childcare workers, who have acquired so many new skills."

Federal Government funding for the project was provided by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The project officially winds up this July, although the facilitators are keen to extend it across Australia and make it an integral part of childcare services.

"It would be a great pity to end the program because so much has been invested in training and the results have been way beyond our expectations," Mr Aylward says.

Mr Aylward is an award-winning public health evaluation expert, with more than 15 years experience in evaluation and social research and has published in the United Kingdom and Australia.

For more information about the program, go to


Contact Details

Mr Paul Aylward
Discipline of General Practice
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3454
Mobile: 0400 039 335

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762