National Framework for Universal Child and Family Health Services

3.8.4 Responding to identified needs

Page last updated: 20 May 2013

Where universal child and family health services identify a health or developmental issue or a support need, the service should provide an appropriate pathway for response. The appropriate response pathway will depend on the nature or acuity of the identified need or issue and the capacity of the service context from which the universal child and family health service is being delivered. Possible pathways are:

  • advice and assistance as part of routine clinical practice (for example, advice about settling techniques or teeth cleaning);
  • providing a brief structured practice-based intervention within the existing universal contact schedule (for example, smoking cessation, non-directive counselling for postnatal distress);
  • referral for further assessment – within child and family health service, to a primary care service such as GPs or to a diagnostic and assessment service (not within a child and family health service);
  • referral or invitation to an enhanced or targeted program delivered by the child and family health service; for example sustained nurse home-visiting programs and,
  • referral to targeted or specialist/intensive service outside of the universal child and family health services (for example speech pathologist, medical specialist, or intensive family support).
Universal child and family health services and the service system within which they are embedded, should have the capacity to deliver the full range of responses described above, and have processes in place to identify which response is appropriate.

The universal child and family health service may also provide targeted interventions in response to an identified population need. For example, services can effectively respond to the high levels of anaemia in Aboriginal infants in remote or rural settings by monitoring and implementing prevention strategies and by effective treatment of infants with or at risk of developing anaemia. Population-based universal intervention may be brief practice-based interventions that can be delivered within the existing core schedule (for example, oral health) or they may be provided in addition to the core schedule of contacts (for example, peer support groups for breastfeeding).

Table presents some examples of responses that could appropriately be provided from the universal child and family health service platform including:
  • brief practice-based interventions that could be delivered universally as part of the core contacts based on population need;
  • brief interventions that could be delivered by child and family health services in response to the identified needs of a family;
  • primary prevention strategies that could be delivered from a universal platform but not as part of a core contact; and
  • targeted interventions, for example, interventions that are delivered within the universal health service but are beyond the universal core contacts for example additional support for breastfeeding. In some services these are referred to as ‘enhanced’ services.
Appendix 4 provides a more detailed description of the responses and interventions listed in Table.

Table : Interventions in core and other contacts
Core Contacts Core ContactsOutside Core ContactsOutside Core Contacts
Brief universal
in response to
population needs
Brief targeted
interventions in
response to
identified needs
in response to
population need
Targeted interventions
in response to
identified need
promotion [102]
Reach out and
Read [103]
Lift the Lip (prevention of
early childhood caries)
Sleep interventions [104]
Smoking cessation [105]
support [102]
New parents’ groups
Peer support for
breastfeeding [106]
Parents as teachers [107]
Positive Parenting
Program (Triple P) [108]
Circle of Security [109,
Incredible years
Positive Parenting
Positive Parenting
Program (Triple P) [108]
Sustained Nurse Home
Visiting – Nurse-Family
Partnership [112, 113]
Miller Early Childhood
Sustained Home-visiting
Baby Happiness
Understanding Giving
(Baby HUGS) [29]
Parents Under Pressure
Further information on programs and interventions is in Appendix 4. Also refer to, the Allen Consulting Group [118] for more detail on evidence-based interventions.

Child protection and mandatory reporting
The universal child and family health service must recognise, respond and refer any suspected cases of child abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) and neglect, in all forms, and/or the presence of domestic violence. It is essential that child and family health professionals adhere to their respective state/territory-based child protection legislation, policies and processes. In the majority of jurisdictions it is a mandatory requirement that child abuse and neglect are reported to the statutory child protection authorities.