Background: Australian governments provide free services to promote maternal and child health, and to support parenting for families with children up to age five. Services are principally provided by dedicated child and family health nurses, but also by general practitioners, practice nurses, pharmacy nurses and midwives.
Aim: This study aimed to examine the experiences of families with young children across Australia in accessing and receiving health care for well children, parenting support and advice from a range of providers.
Methods: The study used quantitative and qualitative data from an online survey of 719 parents and carers with children aged up to five years.
Findings: On quantitative scales, most respondents rated healthcare providers favourably for accessibility, credibility and their approach to families. However, qualitative responses revealed widely varying reactions to child and family health provision. Parents described both positive and negative experiences, highlighting elements of practice that are critical to consumer engagement.
Discussion: Parents require health care and support that are accessible, consistent, affordable, encouraging, trustworthy, evidence-based and non-judgemental. Parents feel more confidence in the information and care provided by health professionals who are well-informed, resourceful and who respect their knowledge and beliefs.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate ways in which child and family health providers can engage and effectively support families with young children.