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New Zealand Now and Next Alumni - learning together

The media below details what the NZ Now and Next Alumni accomplished since their inception - their aim: share knowledge and learn together how to best support their children achieve their goals. Scroll down the below screen to follow their learning.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute Executive Summary [2018 Evaluation Report]

Background to the project

Now and Next is a group program developed by Plumtree that helps parents and carers of young children with a disability or developmental delay cultivate skills to achieve positive outcomes for their child, family and self. It teaches families about setting goals and provides them with opportunities to connect with other families to inform, support and motivate each other to aim high and see new opportunities for their child now and in the future.

Plumtree delivered the Now and Next program between January 2017 and June 2018 as part of the ‘Building Capacity in Families of Young Children with Disability: A Family Leadership Project’ which was funded by ADHC, Department of Family and Community Services and the NDIA for an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) transition project.

Background and purpose of the evaluation

The Centre for Community Child Health (the Centre) at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) was commissioned by Plumtree to undertake a process and outcomes evaluation of the Now and Next program. The evaluation looked at data for the 15 Now and Next groups that were run between January 2017 to March 2018 and involved 154 families of young children birth to eight years old who have disabilities or a developmental delay.

The purpose of the evaluation was to examine the Now and Next program and identify participant outcomes to inform decision-making about the future strategic direction and implementation of the Now and Next program. The evaluation used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to undertake both a process and outcomes evaluation of the Now and Next program. The process evaluation looked at whether the Now and Next program had been delivered as intended, if it was reaching the target groups and how participants rated the program. The outcome evaluation looked at participant outcomes, in particular, if participants had achieved their short-term goals, whether participants had become empowered and if participant sense of hope or wellbeing had grown. Data was collected by the program through online surveys at the beginning and end of the program and during the program by the peer facilitators of the Now and Next program using a participatory action research approach.

An additional research project undertaken by the Centre for Disability Studies at Sydney University documented case studies of the peer workers. This research is reported separately to the present evaluation.


The process evaluation found that Now and Next program had been delivered to the target group of parents and carers of young children with a disability or developmental delay. The evaluation also found and that the program had been delivered as intended with comprehensive and systematic documentation of the sessions for use by peer facilitators and real-time monitoring of participant feedback incorporated into the program for continuing improvement. Due to the iterative nature of the program, new concepts were tested over the evaluation period. This included delivering the Pictability vision and planning session as a group rather than individually, and trialling new measures to monitor participant outcomes.

The program had high levels of attendance from participants with an average attendance rate across all 15 groups of 79.9% over the eight-week program. The groups had strong levels of participation from culturally and linguistically diverse families (who made up 59.1% of participants) as well as from fathers (who represented 20.8% of participants).

The evaluation found the program was highly successful in providing all parents with the experience of developing and achieving short-term goals. Data was collected on the goals participants chose to address during the program: A total of 134 child goals, 137 family goals and 117 personal goals were recorded. More than nine in ten participants achieved all three of the goals that they set. Of the thirteen parents that did not achieve all three of their goals, ten achieved two of their goals and three achieved one of their goals.

The evaluation also found that the program was successful in empowering parents and growing participants sense of wellbeing. Matched participant data that was available for a subset of participants showed statistically significant increases in participants’ empowerment, sense of hope and wellbeing at the end of the program relative to the start of the program. Other participant measures are indicating that the program is also increasing participants’ sense of agency.

Recommendations for further areas of research

Now and Next has a number of unique features that warrant further investigation. Possible research studies include:

· Further trials of the outcomes of the Now and Next program in different sites and populations.

· Tracking one or more cohorts of parents over time to see what the long-term effects are, and whether

the short-term gains found in the present evaluation are sustained.

· Comparison with other programs and pathways. It would be valuable to compare outcomes for those who enter the NDIS after a Now and Next experience with those who go through the standard pathway.

· Determining which of the key features of Now and Next are the key ingredients for the effectiveness of the program will require further experimentation and research.

· Exploring the timing of program in relation when parents engage with professionals.

Implications for policy

In contrast to current early childhood intervention services, Now and Next focusses on building family capacity using new approaches that are peer-led, provide connection with other families, focus on empowerment, agency and wellbeing and emphasise a whole family approach.

The Now and Next program demonstrates the power of parent-to-parent support when properly structured and facilitated. For parents of young children with developmental disabilities, such support can be beneficial in a variety of ways: in helping them clarify their goals for their children, families and themselves; in promoting their personal capabilities to meet these needs; in fostering a positive and constructive approach to the challenges they face; and in contributing to their general well-being. These are goals that early childhood intervention services around the world aspire to, so the Now and Next program offers a program for achieving those goals with families who have young children with developmental disabilities or delays. The current evaluation has shown that the program is also effective with non-English speaking groups, suggesting that the program could have widespread potential.