Helping families help each other

Family By Family

Helping families help each other

Family By Family

Family by Family is a life changing social venture program co-designed with families and developed by The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI). It is a dynamically managed network of families that help other families make the changes they want in their lives.

Effectively the program facilitates the connection of a (Seeking Family), a family who is going through some tough times (financial, or social issues etc) and wants to learn new ways to solve this, with a family who has come out the other side of recent similar challenges (Sharing Family).

Family by Family engaged Pollen to develop a new platform to enhance and support the capabilities of ‘Coaches’, who manage the relationship between the Seeking Family and Sharing Family.

Our challenge was to design a platform that could help connect families, track progress and facilitate communication and engagement in both coaches and families.

In addition to being a valuable tool for coaches and enabling them to work, even when not connected to the internet, the platform also needed to deliver in-depth reporting to the business. The platform also needed to be built in a way that it could be rolled out for other jurisdictions, purposes, partnerships and geographies.

The app’s goal was to connect families

Our starting point on this journey had us ask the question – How could we design a platform that was engaging for families, enabled them to see and track their progress over time, while also being simple for coaches to use for case notes and internal communications?

After a review of the existing platform, we conducted a number of user interviews with Family by Family coaches to fully understand how the new platform could best support them to spend more time with families and less time behind a desk.

We developed a detailed list of features and data requirements in collaboration with Family by Family through understanding how coaches and families worked together during the various stages over the life of a program.

We needed to find the right platform

After reviewing many alternative platforms that offer online/offline sync in an app or web environment, we selected the Google-owned platform - Firebase - to provide the core application platform. Firebase is a fully managed Cloud Platform that provides a low-maintenance core platform with the scalability, security and reliability expected by industry leaders such as Skyscanner, Shazam, and the New York Times.

Especially useful in the case of the Family by Family application, Firebase allowed us to leverage features to support offline data syncing. This greatly extends the capabilities of Family by Family coaches by giving them the ability to work with families when no internet connection is available, removing the need to spend hours documenting later.

In addition, Firebase was also integrated with BigQuery, Google’s analytics data warehouse, for generating reports on the data collected by Family by Family coaches.

Having the data always available and in a queryable interface allows the client to do fine grained reporting on the performance of the programme to address the requirements of their stakeholders and support platform evolution and growth.

The app enabled families to thrive and help others in need

The platform is now live and being used by over 3 regions in South Australia supporting coaches and enhancing the lives of many families.

Additionally, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, an adapted straw person version of the application has been rapidly deployed to support the delivery of services that address the additional highly stressful contexts that families potentially find themselves facing.