Background: In response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Victorian Department for Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed the ‘Roadmap for Reform’ (RfR), aiming to support children and families in need through targeted early interventions; and to improve outcomes for children in home-based and out-of-home care. An immediate action emerging out of the RfR is to deliver a Children and Families Research Strategy to identify key research priorities and direct funding to where it is needed most.
Objectives: DHHS has commissioned five evidence and gap maps (EGMs) to inform this action. The goals is to identify and synthesise evidence on the effectiveness of different interventions aiming to prevent child maltreatment or reduce the adverse consequences of this maltreatment. Four gap maps focus on interventions targeting: (a) domestic violence; (b) high-risk adolescents with behavioural problems; (c) children with disabilities; and, (d) indigenous populations. A fifth map focuses on trauma-informed interventions.
Methods: EGMs provide a visual overview of the availability of evidence for a sector. EGMs consolidate what is known about ’what work’s’ by mapping out existing and ongoing systematic reviews and impact evaluations in a field; and by providing a graphical display of areas with strong, weak or non-existent evidence on the effect of interventions.
Results: By date of submission, 6300 titles and abstracts of systematic reviews and randomised-controlled trials have been screened. Full-text screening is in progress. The EGM will be finalised by May 2017 and present the extent of evidence across types of interventions – prevention; early intervention; and therapeutic interventions - and across outcome domains, including child and parent/caregiver-related wellbeing (e.g. safety, physical, emotional, social and cultural wellbeing, education and learning, structural wellbeing).
Conclusions: This project is an example of how EGMs can inform policy development and strategically support key stakeholders in their decision making around policy, programmes and practice within child and family services.