How we’re scaling social impact through Family by Family

Social innovation can create many powerful opportunities to the challenges that many people face in their day to day lives.

Family by Family is one such social innovation, designed by families for families.

5 March 2018

By the TACSI Team

Twelve years of growing Family by Family

Co-designed with South Australian families for families, our award-winning scaffolded peer-to-peer family network support model Family by Family helps families experiencing setbacks by engaging and training families who have been through tough times to help other families going through tough times themselves.

Since its inception in 2010, the service offer has expanded to four metropolitan sites in Adelaide SA, and to Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom. The last twelve years has resulted in many opportunities to design, test and trial how to spread and scale social innovations.


Successful scaling: the building blocks

​​Below are some of the key aspects that have been important in scaling the social impact that is catalysed through implementing Family by Family.


Maintain a focus on what success looks like

For Family by Family, it’s not about getting more sites, but more so is about scaling the social impact and change for families so that they can access the supports they need to make the changes they want to make in their lives – leading to more families thriving and in the longer term a reduction in the need for crisis services.


Continue to build the evidence base by being clear about the impact you’re measuring

This is key in demonstrating the success of the initiative, and supports you to tell the story of social impact and get values aligned partners on board to join you in your efforts.

Investigate if spreading and scaling may be easier to achieve in partnership, and create the right conditions for these partnerships to grow

Recently, Family by Family transitioned front line implementation of the program in South Australia to a values aligned implementation partner. Recognising that there could be a deeper opportunity to support more families to thrive through working with a partner who themselves were delivering other social programs within a scale infrastructure. We’re now testing the capability building and fidelity infrastructure that will be needed to support other partners implementing the program in other sites nationally.


Continuing to develop what’s needed to support partners and frontline staff to successfully deliver the program with fidelity

All the while focusing on positive outcomes for families as the end game. This is where we are ensuring that frontline staff and partners are supported to deliver the program in the ever changing world that represents the community the program is working within.

Mobilising investment for infrastructure development

This is key to creating the right scaffolding for the program to be delivered at scale with implementation partners, finding opportunities and funding partners to invest in this is critical in the success of scaling social impact!


Build demand

Don’t limit your focus on supply streams, also ensure you’re building demand for the program along the way across all the aspects of the service – families, funders, providers – they all need to want the program. There’s no point in scaling social impact if no one wants it.

Keep iterating, learning, designing and testing the business model to support scaling the social impact

This will also be key in ensuring the program is sustainability supported to deliver social change.

Person holding a child on their lap

Scaling up, scaling out and scaling deep

It’s valuable to map these efforts into a scaling social impact framework, one that I find useful is the model below from Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs. 

Scaling up: Impacting law and policy. Changing institutions at the level of policy, rules and laws.

Scaling out: Impacting greater numbers. Replication and dissemination, increasing numbers of people or communities impacted.

Scaling deep: Impacting culture. Changing relationships, cultural values and beliefs, including ‘hearts and minds’.

What we’ve seen in the Family by Family experience is that by doing all three concurrently – Scaling Up, Scaling Out and Scaling Deep – we develop the right conditions for spreading the innovation.

While each one can support a change to how the system engages; all three together have the potential to spur deeper social impact and change.

Different dimensions of Scaling Impact Source: Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs, Canada
Different dimensions of Scaling Impact. Source: Allyson Hewitt, MARS Innovation Labs, Canada

If you’d like to talk to TACSI about delivering Family by Family in your organisation or area; accessing the team’s knowledge of scaling social innovation while keeping the end users needs at the centre of the scaling framework; or training in co-designing, testing and scaling your own peer or people powered reponse, we’d love to have a chat.

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