National Framework for Universal Child and Family Health Services

4. An Effective Service System for the Provision of Universal Child and Family Health Services

Page last updated: 20 May 2013

An effective universal child and family health service system necessitates:

  • a competent workforce, with specialist knowledge and skills, who receive ongoing education and support including clinical supervision;
  • service infrastructure including information and data collection and analysis systems to support service planning, delivery and evaluation and continuity of care;
  • clear referral pathways with targeted and intensive support services including primary, secondary and tertiary medical services;
  • interagency and inter-professional collaboration beyond health services;
  • appropriate levels of funding and human resources;
  • continuing evaluation and performance review; and
  • a research base.
To be effective this system of services requires a shared vision for the health and wellbeing of children and families and a coordinated and collaborative multidisciplinary approach. Universal child and family health services are therefore ideally embedded in an integrated, multisectoral service system that includes government and non-government services across health, early childhood education and care and school education, family and social services. There is increasing evidence that integrated and collaborative models are more effective in promoting optimal child development, ameliorating family risk factors and enhancing child and family wellbeing [119].

Universal child and family health services work in collaboration with and are supported by a network of primary, secondary and tertiary health services (see Figure 4, Section 2). Higher levels of collaboration and clear service pathways will ensure that universal service providers facilitate access for families to more specialised support when that is required. A range of approaches are used to facilitate coordination and collaboration. These include liaison positions, multidisciplinary teams, co-location of services and care coordination or case management approaches [120].

Universal child and family health services also work across traditional organisational boundaries and collaborate with education, social and family support services. Integrated and collaborative models bring benefits including reduced complexity navigating the system (e.g. a single point of entry which reduces the need for multiple assessments), more timely service delivery and provision of continuity of care across transition times, decreases the likelihood of families ‘falling through the cracks’. This approach ensures opportunities to provide additional support, advice, assistance, and referral can be identified and realised [119].