Research at CPS

CPS is committed to delivering evidence based programs that facilitate improved and measurable outcomes for its clients.

The agency is committed to evaluating the efficacy of its programs and has implemented a continual improvement strategy to ensure its services are of the highest quality. Further, CPS is committed to innovation and has a range of research partners that are undertaking important collaborative projects that are investigating improved models of service and programs to vulnerable children and families.


“Without early intervention, vulnerable children are likely to face life-long struggles to participate and contribute at a family, community and society level.” Aileen Ashford, Chief Executive Officer, CPS

Qualitative study of the CPS Child & Family Centre

CPS Child & Family Centre Commencing in January 2014 with the generous support of a range of philanthropic trusts CPS engaged Charles Sturt University to undertake a qualitative research study of the relationship pedagogy of our pioneering Child and Family Centre.

The aims are to gain a deep understanding of what occurs in the everyday practice of the Early Years Education Program. Describe what is unique and different about this model and translate this understanding to enable effective replication of this model. Also to understand, describe and enact educators’ needs in implementing this model eg. professional training and support.

The research questions will investigate the relationship pedagogy between the early childhood educators and children (how these relationships are facilitated), children and children (peer-to-peer tracking), early childhood educators and parents (building and sustaining of trust) and the education (Early Years Learning framework) and care (attachment-based) models.

Released in July 2016, the research report and associated publications will inform training developed by CPS for early year’s educators and partners to ensure effective dissemination of the findings. The ultimate aim of the project is for all Australian early years’ educators to employ effective education, care strategies and practices for engaging vulnerable children and families.  This will provide a knowledge base here to allow these children to achieve their developmental and learning potentials.


CPS Executive Summary

EYEP diagram








Australian Research Council grant provides valuable education and care research into vulnerable children

Reducing HarmsSignificant recognition was afforded our Child and Family Centre’s unique and ground-breaking work when under its National Competitive Grants Program the Australian Research Council awarded a prestigious grant to study and measure the benefits the CPS Child & Family Centre provides to vulnerable children and their families. The Victorian State Government and a range of Foundations have also provided support to CPS allows this important research to be undertaken.

CPS in partnership with Melbourne University School of Economics and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are undertaking a randomised control trial of the cost benefit of CPS’s Child and Family Centre early intervention program for children under three who experience significant vulnerability and social disadvantage. It also aims to measure the outcomes of the service to provide evidence on the long term benefits of providing high quality early education and care early in the life of children and the additive value of intensive family engagement, parental skills building, and child development activities that can extend into the home. Whilst the inspiration for the study lay in overseas findings published in the UK, USA and Canada, the program is an original model developed here in Victoria by CPS.  

Designed to alter the potentially negative effects of an adverse family circumstances on brain development, the program provides a rich learning environment which include high staff/child ratios, qualified and attachment based caregiving, a curriculum based on the new National Early Years Learning Framework, infant mental health consultation, collaboration with family support services and a focus on building partnerships with parents to sustain their child’s participation.  

It is envisaged this internationally unique project has the potential to influence the design of Australian childcare and education for the nation’s 30,000 vulnerable children, as well as informing both public policy development and industry best-practice within a financially viable framework. We expect our findings to influence significant change in early childhood settings across Australia.

EYERP website

The early years education program randomised controlled trial (in detail)

Improving lifetime trajectories for vulnerable young children and families living with significant stress and social disadvantage

By Brigid Jordan, Yi-Ping Tseng, Nichola Coombs, Anne Kennedy and Jeff Borland

Click here for the full article

Improving the parenting of fathers where family violence is present

Sowing seeds for Jack

CPS is also participating in the Responsible, Responsive and Reparative Fathering in the context of Domestic and Family Violence (RRRef) research project.  

The aim of this project is to improve the parenting experience of children whose fathers have enacted domestic/family violence and to bring together community service providers and Government across three different program areas including; Men’s Behavior Change, Culturally specific programs for Indigenous men who have perpetrated family violence (Indigenous) and Fathering programs that address abuse.  Each stage of the project will build upon evidence gathered in the previous stage.

The research will provide CPS and other community service organisations with a knowledge base of how and under what circumstances fathers who have enacted domestic/family violence parent.  Standards and guidelines can then be developed to assist clinicians working with men where there is domestic/family violence to improve the parenting experience of children and the safety of women.  

The RRRef research project is funded by an Australian Research Council Grant and is being jointly conducted by the University of Melbourne, Curtin University and the University of South Australia in collaboration with 23 government and non-government organizations.

Prevention of sexually abusive behaviour by young people

Kids rainbow art

CPS partnered with Melbourne University – School of Social work and Nursing on a PhD project to explore the prevention of sexually abusive behavior by young people.

The research interviewed young people who completed the Sexual Abuse Counselling and Prevention Program at CPS, along with their workers.  The interviews were guided by the research question: ‘How can the perceptions of young people about their past sexually abusive behavior enhance the current prevention agenda? ‘

The data and major themes are being analyzed that have emerged from the interviews.  In particular, the research is focused on drawing out young people’s ideas about how their early lives could have been different so that the sexually abusive behavior did not occur. 

This research will enable CPS in partnership with Melbourne University to make recommendations to government about how the current prevention agenda could be enhanced.  The research is funded by a Strategic Australian Postgraduate Award through the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. 

Mentoring Mums - making a difference

Mentoring mumsCPS’ Mentoring Mums is a volunteer program that provides a supportive volunteer relationship for socially isolated, highly vulnerable women residing in the north east region of Melbourne.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and share their experience of parenting and support women who are struggling with this for a variety of reasons. Volunteers are required to ‘walk alongside’ a mother from the period of her late pregnancy, or early in the life of her infant, and provide practical support and social and skills development in being a mum. 

In January 2009 Melbourne University was engaged to provide an action research evaluation to assist in the future development and implementation of the program.  A Final Evaluation Report in July 2010 provided a snapshot of the achievements to date and a glimpse of the data and findings as a basis for the program’s future planning.

Click here to download the Mentoring Mums program evaluation summary report, ‘Local Mums helping other local mums’, by Dr Deborah Absler, Dr Gaye Mitchell and with Professor Cathy Humphreys