Family belonging and connection is a year-round theme in Unify, but it has special meaning at Christmas, writes Manager Sam Carpenter.

In the Unify team, we believe all children deserve to experience belonging within their own family – and families should live together when it is safe to do so.

In 2022, Unify worked with 37 families and 44 parents to support them in creating a safe and stable home environment for their children to return to. We are proud of what they have achieved.

Of the 61 children/young people in these families, 47 have returned to live with their parents full-time after spending time in care. Several more will spend time with their parent/s over Christmas as part of ongoing work to reconnect and reunify them.

We are proud to have played a part in these children being able to spend the season with their mum or dad in the homes they belong in.

Centacare Foster Care supported 122 children this year and has been able to successfully reunify 16 with another child on track to return to their family by Christmas.

The specialist reunification carers are recruited and assessed with reunification as the key focus from the outset.

They demonstrate a positive regard and a non-judgemental attitude towards the child’s family and go above and beyond to establish and maintain positive connections and attachments with them.

A good example is a carer who would take a mobile bath to family contact at the Department for Child Protection office, so the mother could bond with her infant twins by bathing them.

The program experiences a lot of movement and the staff are highly skilled, trained and provide intensive support.

It is therefore a real celebration and joy for carers and staff when a child can return home safely with their family, knowing they will be spending special moments, like Christmas, together.