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The Big Tent Project

With approximately one third of pre-school aged children described as developmentally vulnerable, there is an increasing demand to provide evidence-based programs to assist them. One of the major ways to address these concerns has been to work directly with families. While parenting programs are successful in alleviating and preventing developmental trauma, many of the most vulnerable families never engage with such services.

To address this vital community concern, a group program was developed to assist Victorian Pre School Field officers (PSFOs) who have high levels of contact with families of vulnerable pre-school aged children. The six-session psychotherapeutic and supervision intervention program focused on enhancing understanding of the psychodynamic and psychological issues involved in developmental vulnerability as well as increasing insight, self-reflection, and empathy.

The research was conducted as a semi controlled trial in which an intervention condition of seven PSFOs was compared to a matched wait-list condition of seven PSFOs. The participants were tested pre and post intervention on several outcomes related to “efficacy in developmental vulnerability”. The intervention PSFOs significantly improved in their ability to understand developmental vulnerability, to engage effectively with vulnerable families, and to build their capacity.  By contrast, the wait-list group reported no change on these factors. Such a finding suggests an alternative intervention in enhancing service provision and improving the outcomes of vulnerable and “hard-to-reach” families and children.

Supporters and Donations

The Big Tent Project is made possible by many individual benefactors and supporters. We wish to acknowledge The Windermere Foundation for their support for the development of this program and The Research Branch of The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for providing ethics approval for the implementation of research into the project.