The annual OPEN (Outcomes Practice Evidence Network) Symposium was held today at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. This year’s theme 'Connecting the Dots: Better Outcomes for Children and Families' was a unique opportunity to engage with the best and most recent developments in evidence-informed practice across the sector.
Among the presentations on new initiatives backed by the Victorian Government as part of reforming the child and families services system was Children and Mothers in Mind (CMiM), delivered by Kids First's Lauren Vanderzeil and the University of Melbourne's Margaret Kertesz.
Now in its second year, CMiM (funded by Department of Health and Human Services and RE Ross Trust) is an evidence-based program from Canada's Childhood Development Institute that entails trauma informed psycho-education and case management for women and preschool children who have experienced domestic violence.
As Lauren covered in her presentation, the intensive 22-week program encourages the mother to explore the child’s experience and the impact of violence on the mother-infant relationship. Mothers learn how to support and repair their maternal relationship through the child’s recovery. Mums also learn how to be more present for the child, with evidence this leads to more significant long-term outcomes.
The group dynamic has also provided mums with crucial peer support both within, outside and beyond the 22 sessions. Participants reported how they no longer harbour feelings of fear, regret and guilt. A mothers' account of an abusive relationship and single motherhood published by the Herald-Sun today provides an excellent insight into the situations and mums this program seeks to assist.
In its initial twelve months CMiM has grown in scale and reputation with sites now established at five locations across Victoria. All groups have seen exceptional retention rates. Anecdotal client feedback and research conducted by the Child Development Institute (Canada) and Melbourne University Research Department indicate the program is achieving the objectives of improving child developmental outcomes, reducing social isolation, enhancing maternal self-compassion and care and upskilling parenting capabilities.