young families 

Our transformative approach to backing young families wraps support around a young family tailored to their needs

Through our partnership with Hand Heart Pocket we are investigating what works for at-risk young parents and their children to thrive, and evaluating the effectiveness of integrated service delivery.

Thriving Young Families Demonstration Project

The Thriving Young Families Demonstration Project is a transformative model that backs vulnerable young parents and their families. The project leverages government and philanthropic funding to create an integrated model that wraps a package of support around a young family tailored to their needs, goals and hopes for the future. The model combines Family Resource Practitioners who provide long-term practical support, and specialist workers who target common barriers that hold young parents back.

Thriving Young Families aims to resource strong and proud young families where children thrive, learn and grow.

Thriving Young Families works with pregnant or parenting young people (25 and under) and their children. Young parents face a range of challenges as they transition from adolescence into adulthood and parenting, which can be exacerbated by stigma and a lack of age-appropriate services. These challenges may result in poor outcomes for the ongoing development and wellbeing of young parents and their children.

Young people under 25 years are going through a significant developmental period which brings increased vulnerability. It is also a period that brings great capacity for growth. This critical developmental window in a young person’s life provides an opportunity to support resilience building and reduce risk across their lifetime – for themselves and their children. 

The initiative is funded by the Australian Department of Social Services and Hand Heart Pocket, the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.

Commenced in July 2021, Thriving Young Families is still in its developmental phase.


Research, evaluation and learning papers

In this series of learning papers, we explore each component of the model and early learnings to inform ongoing program development.

Peer support involves people with a common interest, who share life experiences and challenges, giving to and receiving support from each other. It is a reciprocal process that is helpful to all participants.

Thriving young families is trialling different strategies to better understand what works for building peer supports.

One thing is clear, it takes dedicated resources and perseverance to develop groups, build informal support networks and equip mentors to support other young parents.

Read our Peer support and connections research, evaluation and learning paper

Young parents are at risk of family violence and relationship conflict due to factors including developmental stage and lack of relationship experience, vulnerabilities of young parenthood, complex trauma and insecure attachments.

Thriving Young Families has the opportunity to influence the early formation of relationships in young families. The initiative aims to foster respectful relationship skills and provide support when safety issues emerge to prevent harmful relationship patterns from escalating or becoming entrenched.

Read our Safe and healthy relationships research, evaluation and learning paper

Young parents are at significant risk of experiencing poor emotional and mental health.

Disadvantage, trauma, lack of family support, isolation, relationship conflict, poor housing, lack of employment and the demands of parenthood can all contribute to poor mental health outcomes for young parents.

Mental health issues are common for the young people linked with Thriving Young Families. When young people first join the program 40% have poor mental health and 30% have limited resilience or coping skills.

Read our Therapeutic support research, evaluation and learning paper

Young people aged 12 to 24 experience high rates of homelessness. Young parents are particularly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness, due in part to the increased stressors and challenges they face when transitioning to parenthood.

Our Step by Step Thriving Young Families initiative aims to get families housed and build their capacity to sustain tenancies for the long term. A stable home provides a foundation for families to thrive. 

A Housing Specialist works alongside Family Resource Practitioners to promote sustainable housing outcomes for young families.

Read our Housing research, evaluation and learning paper

Young parents in Logan bear exponential risk across multiple generations: they are often from highly disadvantaged backgrounds; they experience complex challenges as people and as parents; and their children are at significant risk of poor outcomes throughout life.

The Thriving Young Families initiative aims to resource strong and proud young families where children thrive, learn and grow.  Family Resource Practitioners work alongside young parents to address immediate needs and build their capacity for long term outcomes. Underpinning this approach is a strong understanding of the impact of intergenerational trauma and child and youth development.

Read our Family resourcing research, evaluation and learning paper

Early parenthood can disrupt participation in education, especially for teenagers, and impact on their long-term education outcomes, employability and earning capacity. Consequently, young parents face higher welfare dependency and increased likelihood of intergenerational transmission of disadvantage to their children.

Linking young parents with education, employment and activities to improve their work readiness is an important focus area. Parenthood can be highly motivating for young people as they seek to give their children a better life.

Read our Education and employment research, evaluation and learning paper

Young families facing a myriad of challenges may require support from a range of service providers to meet their needs and achieve their goals. Yet it can be hard to access the right services at the right time, and sometimes those services do not talk to one another. This can make the service experience disjointed and less effective than it could be if everyone was working together.

In the Thriving Young Families initiative, a team of inter-disciplinary professionals work together to wrap a package of support around each young family. The model includes long-term, relationship-based support from Family Resource Practitioners to address immediate issues and build skills, plus specialist support on key areas such as housing, safe and healthy relationships, education and employment, therapeutic intervention and peer support. It was designed based on young parents’ insights, evidence, and experience.

Read our Service Integration research, evaluation and learning paper