Interact Support has not had the resources to undertake research on the outcomes from our clients undertaking the New Ways for Families Course or Course and Coaching however we have good quality research from a program run in North America by Medicine Hat Family Service.
They have done research on clients who used their model for using the New Ways for Families program with 186 families. 130 of them completed their program and 60 resolved their disputes out of court.
Family profiles indicated
- 61% of clients described their relationship as abusive
- 44% had had police called to their homes and 22% had restraining orders
- 90% of parents felt that their children were negatively affected by their parents disputes,
- 36% of parents had returned to court at least 3 times or more prior to NWFF,
- 91% of parents said parenting discussions let to arguments with their ex-partner.
Funding was sought and Social Return on Investment (SROI) practitioners were hired to conduct an indepth SROI assessment of the value of the NWFF program to families as well as other stakeholders including the government.
- Over the 5 years of the study the Social Return on Investment was a ratio of 1:8.95 almost $9 dollars in real savings and social value for every $1 spent.
- Approximately 51% of the value is experienced by parents and children through increased safety and personal wellbeing, and decreased trauma and expense.
- Approximately 43% of the value goes back to the justice system in cost reallocations from decreased use of police, court and legal services.
- 6% of the value is experienced by other community service providers such as women’s shelters, medical services, educational services, etc.
The study was conservative in their evaluations and didn’t speculate on long term benefits from personal development by parents and longer term psychological well being for their children.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Using the internationally standardized SROI methodology, the Medicine Hat NWFF study revealed that for every dollar invested in the NWFF program, approximately $8.95 in social value was created for parents, children, government and community service systems.
As governments seek more cost efficient ways to support families engaged in parenting disputes, the study suggests that investment in NWFF can improve quality of life for both parents and children, and reduce the use of court as a means of resolving parenting disputes, generating important cost savings and value to multiple stakeholders. Ongoing investment in this type of programming is likely to advance the achievement of positive outcomes and further generate value in our community.
Based on the findings from the current study, it is clear that investing in early intervention for high conflict post separation parenting disputes through NWFF creates important cost savings for government while increasing the wellbeing of parents and their children.
Given the high cost of court and other justice system services used by parents in parenting disputes, it is clear that participation in NWFF can reduce ongoing costly expenditures on system responses that do not enhance the wellbeing of parents and children.
About New Ways for Families
IInteract Support provides an online post separation parenting course and and Post Separation Parenting Coaching using the New Ways for Families (NWFF) program
The New Ways for Families Program was licensed from Bill Eddy from the High Conflict Institute in California with no funding or government support and translated to Australian Legal Conditions by Interact Support Directors.
NWFF provides education and skills training in four key interpersonal skills, Managed Emotions, Flexible Thinking, Moderate Behaviour and Checking Yourself which are critical at times of conflict such as separation and divorce. The course is a 12 module online delivery program which also includes information about the effects of conflict on children and the Australian Family Law System.
The goal of the program is to reduce the potential escalation of separation and parenting issues into conflict and violence and to increase parent’s cooperative parenting skills in order to ensure the children’s best interests are addressed and harmful effects on children from their parents relationship difficulties
In NWFF both parents are encouraged to avoid ongoing court battles and to use non-adversarial family law support services such as Family Dispute Resolution and can be supported by individual coaching sessions.
The program encourages cooperation between parents and also between the functional areas of the family law system with lawyers referring clients to the program and judges ordering them to complete it, counsellors and coaches support parents to develop their problem solving and interpersonal skills to be able to retain more
control over their decision making skills so they do not need to become “frequent flyers” in the Family Court.
The theory of change used in the New Ways for Families model is:
Separating and divorcing couples in conflict over parenting arrangements receive problem solving and interpersonal skills building support before making decisions. That results in respectful communication, self-awareness, and self-control so that they are more likely to be able to negotiate the best outcome for their children and be able to work together more effectively as co-parents in the future. If this is done instead of going to court and used in conjunction with Family Dispute Resolution Mediation the damage to relationships and the cost of adversarial legal action and Family Court can be eliminated completely.
New Ways for Families is designed to save courts time, to save parents time and money and to protect children as their families re-organize in new ways. Bill Eddy.
How is Social Return on Investment Calculated?
Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis provides a framework for measuring and financially valuing social and economic outcomes from initiatives like New Ways for Families and provides a method for telling the story of the value of the intervention and the return on the investment made in supporting the program. This SROI report was done on the first 5 years of the NWFF program (2012 – 2016)
SROI studies articulate the financial value of social outcomes created through key investments revealing how much value is created for every dollar invested. The evaluation of value goes beyond economic analysis by focusing on the value of outcomes experienced by stakeholders. This allocates a financial value to social outcomes such as increased well-being as well as cost savings for individuals and governments.
- Parents who undertook the New Ways for Families Program
- Children of NWFF clients
- Justice System (all levels)
- Other local service providers
- Funders, donors and investors
The investment was the full cost of the operation and administration of the NWFF program for the five year study period.
This step in the SROI process involves mapping the links between the activities supported by an investment and the outcomes or changes that these activities create. The mapping used was as follows.
The next step was to determine how many stakeholders experienced the mapped outcome included in the step 2.
The NWFF SROI used an evaluative approach based on information on outputs and outcomes collected via pre/post client questionnaires. A financial value was assigned to each mapped outcome and included the following.
This includes considering what part of the outcomes experienced can be attributed to the NWFF program and what may have been experienced regardless of it. This takes into account:
- Deadweight – how much of the outcome would have happened anyway
- Displacement – how much the outcome has displaced other positive outcomes
- Attribution – how much of the outcome is attributable to others
This provides a reality check and prevents gains being overstated. This is expressed as a discount on the value calculated for the outcomes and were based on feedback from staff and reasonable estimations.
This involved a calculation of:
- The number of stakeholders experiencing outcomes
- The financial proxies used to represent the value of outcomes (the dollar amount attributed)
- The discounts applied (for other potential sources of the impact)
The duration of outcomes over time
The final part of an SROI analysis is the creation of an SROI report and other communications documents. Communications can involve presentations, executive summary reports, reports for government use, and reports for fundraising. The final SROI activity also relates to using results on an ongoing basis for continuous program improvement (embedding).
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- Birnbaum, R. & Bala, N. (2010). Toward the differentiation of high-conflict families: An analysis of social science research and Canadian case law, Family Court Review, 48, 403-416
- Carter, S. (2011). Family restructuring therapy: Interventions with high conflict separations and divorces. Scottsdale, Arizona: High Conflict Institute Press.
- Deutsch, R. M. (2008). Divorce in the 21st century: Multidisciplinary family interventions. Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 36(1), 41-66.
- Eddy, B. (2013). New ways for families: Professional guidebook (2nd ed.) San Diego: HCI Press.
- Henry, W. J., Fieldstone, L., & Bohac, K. (2009). Parenting coordination and court re-litigation: A case study. Family Court Review, 47, 682-697.
- Jacobs, N. & Jaffe, R. (2010). Investigating the efficacy of CoMeT, a new mediation model for high=conflict separating parents. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 38, 16-31.
- Malcore, S. A., Windell, J., Sevuin, M., & Hill, E. (2010). Predictors of continued conflict after divorce or separation: Evidence from a high-conflict group treatment program. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51, 50-64.
- O’Hara-Brewster, K., Beck, C. J. A., Anderson, E. R., & Benjamin, G. A. H. (2011). Evaluating parenting coordination programs: Encouraging results from pilot testing a research methodology. Journal of Child Custody, 8, 247-267.
- Owen, J. & Rhoades, G. K. (2012). Reducing interparental conflict among parents in contentious child custody disputes: An initial investigation of the working together program. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 38, 542-555.
- Strohschein, L. (2012). Parental divorce and child mental health: Accounting for pre-disruption differences. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53(6), 489-502.
- Sullivan, M. J. (2008). Coparenting and the parenting coordination process. Journal of Child Custody, 5, 4-24.