After more than a decade of milestones, Centacare’s Targeted Intervention Service (TIS) will end tomorrow to make way for the $20.7 million RESTORE Intensive Family Services, a new direction in early intervention and prevention for at-risk families.

Family Preservation (FP) will also wind up as Centacare prepares to deliver RESTORE in the north and south of Adelaide and Mount Gambier.

RESTORE will build on the work of TIS and FP in addressing child safety risk factors to improve family functioning and keep children out of care.

In looking to the future, Executive Manager of Children’s Services Leanne Haddad today celebrated the past, applauding both programs for progressing innovative, child-focused, and trauma-informed in-home supports for families and children.

“The work that Family Preservation and Targeted Intervention have done over many years has informed our new RESTORE model,” Leanne said.

“The work you have done with the families and the children, the voice that you created for families, the voice that you gave to children that didn’t have a voice, will live on in our new program.

“Thank you for your patience, hope and inspiring commitment to families. You work tirelessly, and you advocate every day.”

Service achievements

Targeted Intervention

Targeted Intervention began in 2009 and for seven years operated within a partnership model with the Department for Child Protection (formerly Families SA).

In 2016, the service expanded referral pathways to target families recognised as requiring earlier intervention.

With ongoing development, TIS was a catalyst for change – adapting flexible service delivery over time and supporting professional growth across Children’s Services.

While some staff have used TIS as a launching pad, others have been part of the service long-term or for its duration.

Over the past 12 years, TIS has supported more than 1000 families and 2300 children across five sites, with more than $30 million in funding from four government departments under five contracts.

Under TIS, families with children aged 0 to 18 years where early child wellbeing and/or safety risk factors have been identified, were supported by a case manager, clinical nurse and a financial advocate.

“The team’s skills have evolved to meet the many changing and complex needs of the children and families we support who have taught us so much in return,’’ Manager Michelle Warner said.

“The flexibility we have had within the service scope, combined with the highly-skilled and passionate team – past and present – I believe, has allowed us to evolve and shape our service delivery to the target group over time.’’

 

Family Preservation

Family Preservation began as part of the Reunification Service contract in 2013-2014.

As Centacare looked to expand its casework capacity to meet growing need, the team began to build, and in 2015-2016 the opportunity arose to restructure FP as a stand-alone support, separate from Reunification.

The FP model was redeveloped to parallel the successful TIS multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating the role of clinical nurse, and supporting 134 families between 2016 -2019.

FP was granted a one-year extension (2019-2020) after transitioning to the Department of Human Services, with a view to successfully supporting children to remain living safely with their families.

Since 2019-20, the service has supported 114 families and 276 children.

Manager Megan Jones highlighted the strong working relationship between FP and the Department for Child Protection, the program’s sole referral pathway, and its success in addressing complex child safety concerns.

“We have been able to collaborate and partner together to support families with the Department for Child Protection,’’ Megan said.

“Most recently, we’ve been able to expand our referral pathways with DCP’s multicultural team and adoption services, in support of families who have been struggling to manage.’’

“While we are celebrating the longevity and achievements of the Targeted Intervention and Family Preservation services and reflecting on the end of an area, we acknowledge that the innovation of both programs informed the new RESTORE Intensive Family Services program.

“Thankyou Targeted Intervention and Family Preservation for believing in individuals and supporting families to stay together.’’

Primary school student Chloe* believes her tablet is contaminated with bad luck, so she has stopped taking it to class. She worries that disaster will befall her family and friends if she uses the device. Chloe fell behind with her studies last term and her parents worry how she will cope this year. The 13-year-old is among an increasing number of young people presenting to Centacare’s PACE service for anxiety-related mental health challenges.

Over the past seven months, demand for support has trebled as clients aged up to 16 years, and/or parents of young children seek help.

Mental Health Peer Worker Alex Barr said obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was the leading concern, and was most likely triggered by COVID-19.

“As soon as COVID-19 restrictions started to ease, we were flooded with calls,’’ said Alex, who has supported clients as young as 8 in the past year.

“Pre-COVID, OCD was there but not to the extent we’re seeing it now.

“It might be some clients had a predisposition to OCD and because it’s been such a strange and stressful time with new school, hygiene and social norms, it’s been brought on sooner.’’

The indicators of OCD are obsessions – unwanted and intrusive ideas, thoughts, images or urges – and compulsions or rituals, which the person feels they must perform repeatedly in response to their obsessions.

Alex said contamination, fear of getting sick, magical thinking and harm were the most prevalent themes experienced by PACE clients.

In most cases, this was putting their schooling at risk.

“Often they are constantly late to school, or they don’t attend at all, due to extensive rituals before leaving the house,’’ she said.

“Some young people are not able to eat at school or in public, which is causing them social and health concerns.

“Others come to us with severe skin conditions caused by contamination OCD symptoms, such as repeatedly washing their hands.’’

In recent months, Alex has supported an older teen who worries he will hit someone in his car and  repeatedly drives laps of the block to check, while a 14-year- old is fearful of using technology.

“He wouldn’t touch the phone to speak to us or use the laptop to send an email, which made it difficult to provide him with support remotely during lockdown,’’ Alex said.

PACE expects demand for support will keep rising, especially from parents, as the new school year, combined with a metropolitan-wide lack of specialist support for OCD, exacerbates students’ stressors.

“OCD doesn’t follow logic so it can be particularly hard for parents to understand it,’’ Alex said.

“Their parenting instinct is to help when their child is hurting, so often they start to enable their behaviours. They might start cleaning things for them, or buying new clothes if their child says their wardrobe is contaminated, or they might be too strict.

“By enabling behaviours, they are prolonging the recovery process. That can be the hardest thing for parents to understand because, emotionally, it’s very difficult to say no to a child in distress.’’

PACE offers one-on-one support for parents and caregivers of children with OCD or who are struggling with repetitive behaviours.

In addition, young people aged 16 or over can attend HOPE, the only peer-led support group in Adelaide, run by PACE each fortnight from Payneham Community Centre.

*For more information about PACE supports and the HOPE group, please phone 8303 6660 or email pace@centacare.org.au

 

 

Centacare is playing a key role nurturing the mental health of young people living in rural South Australia. Through the Supporting Children & Youth (SCY) program, we work with families to build their resilience and overcome challenges in their lives.   

 

Every week, Centacare’s Supporting Children & Youth  team travels hundreds of kilometres to bring sunshine to the bush.

An early intervention mental health outreach service operating across the Murray, Mid Murray, Coorong and Mallee regions, SCY supports children and young people who are showing early signs, or are at risk, of mental illness.

For many families, the free Murray Bridge-based service is their only support.

From Morgan to Pinnaroo, Mount Pleasant and Tintinara, SCY engages children aged 0 to 18 years to improve their wellbeing and overcome challenges.

These include family breakdown, grief and loss, bullying, loneliness, peer pressure, low self-esteem and self-labelling.

“Being the voice for a child is very rewarding as quite often their voice will go unheard,” says Morgan, a Family Practitioner who joined SCY in 2019.

“Engaging and supporting young people to reach their full potential by overcoming short-term anxiety, depression or grief and loss is truly powerful.’’

Through one-on-one and group support at schools, and onsite at Centacare in Murray Bridge, SCY provides intensive long-term early intervention, short-term supports, and opportunities for young people to reconnect to community through place-based activities.

Manager Mark Draper says service referrals continue to grow, highlighting the need for other non-clinical services in the region. Typically, referrals come from schools, service providers and SAPOL. Some young people self-refer.

In the wake of COVID-19, the team has increased its digital capacity to provide on-the-spot paperless support to families to help them overcome the challenges of limited online access and resources.

“Parents and schools are so appreciative of SCY’s support because we will come to them,’’ says Naomi, Family Practitioner.

“When you live in a remote location, distance is a huge barrier to accessing supports for your children if that requires taking them out of school to make the four-hour round trip.’’

Research shows social isolation can exacerbate life stressors in vulnerable families, with the rate of suicide in rural Australia about 40 per cent higher than in major cities. Drug and alcohol use and smoking is also more prevalent.

SCY Family Practitioner Alison feels privileged to work with young people as they navigate childhood and adolescence.

“Just saying to a child ‘buddy, I believe in you’ can be powerful for them and for their parents,’’ she says.

“Some young people have challenging behaviours but every young person we work with is awesome. If they can see this and believe in themselves, and understand how to react in certain situations, a lot of positive change can happen.

“When you support a young person around their unmet needs or goals, they look at you with this beam – it’s very rewarding.’’

For more information about SCY, please phone Centacare Murray Bridge 8215 6320 or email murraybridge@centacare.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

The five-year-old face of Centacare’s new foster care campaign is one of the lucky ones.

After spending eight months in residential care, `Jamie’ found stability and love with a foster family shortly before his fourth birthday. 

Sadly, he is the exception rather than the rule, as a desperate shortage of carers for primary school aged children in South Australia continues to grow.

More than half of the children waiting for foster homes across the state are aged five to nine years old.

Centacare Foster Care Manager Amalie Mannik said an overwhelming preference for infants among foster carers has made it more difficult for Centacare to place children aged two and up.

“It’s incredibly challenging not being able to place this cohort of children, where the need is and I think this is due to a perception that older children are more challenging to care for than babies,’’ she said.

“But there are so many toddlers and primary school aged children who would be able to thrive and meet their developmental milestones if they had a stable, secure base and a nurturing home that could support them through life.’’

Centacare has launched a new campaign to encourage people to join our circle of care.

The campaign is centred on 18 fictitious characters including Jamie, which also feature in a new logo and program branding. The aim is to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers, and the different types of care that households can provide to help children of all ages.

Amalie said foster carers for children aged five to 12 were especially needed.

“These children are engaged at school, they’re learning to read and write and are at that beautiful age when they can start pursuing activities and experiencing new things, yet it’s very difficult to find them family-based homes,’’ she said.

“Out of all of the children placed within the Centacare Foster Care program, less than half are primary school age, which isn’t reflective of the need.’’

Amalie said foster carers with primary school aged children in their care regularly highlight the benefits of nurturing this age group.

“They support them with their school engagement and have the benefit of being able to gain feedback from the children during meaningful conversations,’’ she said.

“Not having to lift infants is less physically demanding, and they also don’t experience sleep deprivation as they would with an infant if they are waking through the night for feeding.’’

Centacare Foster Care provides immediate, short-term, long-term and respite care for children from birth until adulthood.

The process of becoming a foster carer can take between three to five months from application through to approval.

To join our circle of care, please phone Centacare Foster Care on 81591400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au

 

Young  women who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care will be supported in an innovative early intervention service announced this week.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has funded Breathing Space, which Centacare will pilot over two years with up to 15 women aged under 25 years.

Part of the DHS Child and Family Service System redesign, the service aims to improve young women’s quality of life, wellbeing and life skills, by addressing the complexities that may have contributed to their children entering the child protection system.

Some young women may have experienced an out-of-home care placement themselves and/or have experienced homelessness.

“These women are the forgotten women, and the only time we hear about them is when they have the next child, which could potentially be removed,” said Leanne Haddad, Executive Manager of Centacare’s Children’s Services Unit.

“The loss of a child into care is significant. There is a lot of shame involved, particularly with Aboriginal women, and this can lead to other significant challenges that may otherwise never be addressed.”

Breathing Space is based on UK program Pause, and is believed to be the first service of its kind in Australia.

Participation is voluntary and each young woman will be allocated a case manager, women’s health nurse, financial counsellor and a senior practitioner providing wrap-around support.

Breathing Space is underpinned by Aboriginal co-design criteria and will privilege the voices of young Aboriginal women who are engaged in the program to empower self-determination, address intergenerational trauma and promote the importance of culture.

Specialist input will be provided by CatholicCare NT on the Aboriginal Family Coping Toolkit.

Referrals will come from, birthing hospitals, Child and Family Assessment and Referral Networks, Local Partnership Groups, Department for Child Protection and other approved services.

The therapeutic model for Breathing Space draws on the doctoral research completed by Child, Adolescent Psychiatrist and Specialist Therapist Dr Jackie Amos in 2017, and other trauma-related research literature, and clinical experience.

“We want to identify the protective factors that mitigate the recognised effects of intergenerational trauma to increase self-identity, but also safeguard potential future children the young women may have,’’ Leanne said.

“Many of the young women may have experienced childhood trauma and have been abused or neglected themselves or may be in a domestic violence relationship. They are facing significant life challenges.”

“Breathing Space is a time for the young women to focus on themselves, share stories with others to learn they are not alone, to identify better ways to live and develop effective coping strategies.  It is a time or the young women to breathe and find out who they are.”

For more information, please visit our Breathing Space service page.

Foster carers and birth families are swapping sounds and pictures to stay connected during COVID-19.

Their creativity is bringing joy amid the chaos to children, siblings and parents living apart.

“Something like this always births innovation, and our families are going above and beyond to make sure there’s still meaningful and regular contact,’’ said Amalie Mannik, Manager, Centacare Foster Care.

From video updates to recordable teddy bears, new ways of keeping in touch are emerging each day.

“Some birth parents have recorded lullabies on video, or into special bears, so that their children can still hear their voice,’’ Amalie said.

“Others have been singing songs and telling bedtime stories on Facetime. Even just to be able to see their child’s bedroom, that sort of connection is so important.

“A lot of the foster carers have put together little photo books and templates so the kids can show mum and dad what they’re doing each day.

“The birth families miss their kids. They love them deeply and unconditionally, so having face-to-face contact decrease so dramatically is really tough.”

Amalie said the creativity was doubling as an important learning tool, with foster carers able to provide guidance and feedback to birth parents, based on their interactions with their children.

“So as much as they’re keeping in touch, they’re also learning new ways of connecting with their children.’’

Innovation amid COVID-19 has changed the way Centacare Foster Care operates too.

In lieu of face-to-face contact, support workers are now consulting with foster carers via phone or virtual consultations. Training is being conducted by video and a new work booklet, while information sessions are being delivered online.

Virtual assessment visits have also been introduced.

“We are looking at increasing respite for households that need it, and we have developed `emergency plans’ for the children if carers become unwell,’’ Amalie said.

For more information about becoming a foster carer with Centacare, please phone the team on 8159 1400.

 

 

Families experiencing separation can now access one-on-one phone-based parenting education at Centacare.

Free courses are available to support parents and children to navigate challenges at home arising from changes in their family.

In response to COVID-19, the courses have transitioned to a telephone-based model run in hour-long sessions.  The number of sessions required to complete each course varies.

Participants can phone Centacare on 8215 6700 to book into the following courses:

 

Bringing Up Great Kids

Encourage parenting practices that build competence, optimism and capability in children.

4 x 1 hour sessions

 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Develop strategies to communicate effectively with your children and truly hear what they are trying to tell you.

Explore realistic expectations and set boundaries to nurture resilience in your child

1 x 1 hour session

 

Inside Their Heads

What’s happening for today’s teens?

Learn more about adolescent brain development, how to set boundaries, and communication that encourages two-way respect and understanding.

1 x 1 hour session

 

Keeping Families Safe: Picking up the pieces after domestic violence

Children hear and see domestic violence too. What do children learn from this, and how do they experience domestic violence?

Learn strategies to support your children’s ongoing wellbeing and nurture their sense of safety and self.

1 x 1 hour session

 

What To Do When Kids Push Your Buttons

Identify triggers and understand what is behind your child’s behaviour.

Learn how to defuse the behaviour and respond calmly by adjusting your own beliefs, expectations and assumptions to regain your child’s cooperation and respect.

3 x 1 hour sessions

 

Developing Resilience

Develop your child’s ability to cope with disappointment and bounce back from challenging situations. Learn the five building blocks of resilience and how to nurture their self-esteem.

1 x 1 session

 

Circle of Security – THIS WILL COMMENCE SOON

An internationally recognised program that focusses on building attachment security. Children with secure attachment have increased empathy and self-esteem; better relationships with parents and peers; enhanced school readiness and an increased capacity to handle their emotions.

To enrol in a parenting course and make a phone appointment for one-on-one education, please phone Centacare 8215 6700.

 

Foster carers have used pictures to illustrate their journeys, to further understanding of their important role.

Launched last week at Centacare, Seaton, Photovoice provides foster carers with a platform to express their experiences through visual narratives.

The images provide a powerful insight into their everyday and help others to see foster care through their eyes.

The project was facilitated by Master of Social Work student Sid Wagle, on placement from Flinders University.

Eight foster carers provided three photographs/images which they felt encapsulated their caring experience and were then interviewed, which provided the narrative and reasoning behind the images.

The project illustrates how their perception of foster care has grown during their caring journey, from initially wanting to make a difference, to developing a deeper understanding of the challenges and complexities many children face – and the satisfaction of being positive influences in their lives.

Moments of joy, sadness and grief are expressed in the photographs, through which foster carers also express their hopes for the future including additional support and continuity of care for children.

“The reflections are very powerful and you can really feel that it’s personal, and that you live this every day,’’ said Amalie Mannik, Manager, Centacare Foster Care, at the launch.

“It’s a powerful way of raising awareness about foster care, especially to those who don’t understand it.’’

For more information about Centacare Foster Care program, phone 8159 1400 or email fostercareenquiries@centacare.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches can bring out the best of us in life and sport but they can also be influential voices on the home front.

Co-parent coaches are increasingly being sought by couples as they grapple with the challenge of shared parenting after separation and divorce.

Ceri Bruce is a Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Centacare and supports parents to overcome factors that impinge on their ability to work together while living apart.

“Co-parent coaching does not involve delving into past behaviours or individual issues but rather assists parents to identify what it is that is blocking the co-parent alliance,’’ Ceri said.

“We assist them to try out new ways with specific behaviour strategies, or to change flawed thinking that is preventing them from reaching their family goals.’’

Parents accessing Centacare’s Family Dispute Resolution service can be referred to Co-Parenting Coaching and are coached over one-hour sessions, with a focus on respectful decision-making in the best interests of their child.

“The intention is always for children to get the best possible version of separation from both families in both households,’’ Ceri said.

“Sometimes it’s just about helping the parents communicate when they might not want to or think that they don’t need to.

“Our role is to help them separate themselves from their own needs and intent, in order to focus on what’s best for the child.’’

Together, parents are encouraged to set clear and consistent boundaries and practices that work in both homes, creating a sense of stability, security and safety for their children.

“Children benefit because they develop meaningful attachment with both parents as well as significant family members, which is crucial for their overall wellbeing,’’ Ceri said.

“Parents also learn strategies for self-care, and we see them grow in confidence from that.’’

ABS data shows there were 49,404 divorces granted nationally in 2018 – nearly half involved children. Of those divorces, the median duration of marriage was 12.3 years.

In family law cases, separating couples must make a genuine effort to resolve parenting and financial issues through dispute resolution before they can apply to the courts for orders.

In addition to co-parent coaching, Centacare offers child inclusive family dispute resolution, where appropriate, to ensure the voice of the child is heard in a safe and supported manner during parenting negotiations.

Ceri said family dispute resolution is an often quicker, more collaborative and more affordable option for resolving parenting disputes and reaching agreements about how property is divided.

Case Study

A couple, aged in their early 30s, experience a difficult separation. Communication continues to be a significant stumbling block, as it was throughout their relationship.

They attempt Family Dispute Resolution but find it difficult to reach and maintain effective agreements around parenting.

Through the service, they are referred to a Co-Parent Coach who supports them to identify the areas that are contributing to breakdowns in their communication.

They embrace new strategies to better manage their individual emotional reactions.

The parents report improved interactions with the other. Their children comment that they feel more at ease now when both parents are present as there is less tension and more amicable communication between the two.

The parents continue to seek the support of their coach until they are satisfied they have significantly strengthened their co-parenting alliance.

For more information about Centacare’s Family Dispute Resolution service, including Co-Parent Coaching, please contact Centacare on 8215 6700 or Centacare South East on 8303 6630 or email enquiries@centacare.org.au. Explore our range of Family Dispute Resolution services and locations including Mount Gambier HERE.

Navigating separation and divorce is not easy. There are many decisions to be made around finances, property and parenting. Centacare’s Post-Separation Parenting Course can support you to better understand and manage changes in your family.

 

Parenting after a relationship ends can be both daunting and challenging.

Parents may feel isolated and low in confidence as they adjust to their family’s new circumstances.

They may also struggle to communicate with one another in a non-adversarial way, and be challenged by their children’s behaviour.

Centacare South East offers a free three-hour post-separation parenting workshop for clients of its Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) service to guide separated parents through change.  This workshop is also available at a small fee for parents not accessing the FDR service.

At the workshop, parents can:

  • Share with others what is different now that their family has changed
  • Learn what their children need
  • Develop strategies to communicate respectfully with the other parent
  • Identify what gets in the way of working with the other parent
  • Explore the development needs of children

The focus of the workshop is on post-separation parenting and how to best support children through this challenging time in a positive manner.  A separated couple will need to attend separate sessions.

It is not designed for adults to resolve their personal experiences of grief or anger related to the end of their relationship.

As bookings are essential, please contact Centacare on 8303.6630.  Alternatively, expressions of interest may be directed to fdr@centacare.org.au

 

Case study

The split

Sam* and Gill* had shared three children and a decade of memories when their marriage ended.

Both blamed one another for the demise of their relationship.

Focussed on how one had made the other feel, they were preoccupied with resentment and humiliation.

Sam and Gill commenced Family Dispute Resolution with Centacare.

Gill’s story

Though she worried about the impact of their separation on the children, Gill’s primary focus was on herself – and never having to speak to Sam again.

At intake, the Centacare Family Dispute Resolution practitioner suggested some self-care strategies and asked Gill how the children were managing, given the level of hostility between their parents.

It made Gill stop and think: If she was finding it so hard to cope, how were the children faring?

She wanted to be there for them but worried about parenting alone, so she took her practitioner’s advice and enrolled in Centacare’s Post Separation Parenting Course.

Sam’s story

Sam cited `growing apart’ as the reason for the separation.

His priority was on moving forward towards a new life – without Gill in it.

Sam’s initial thoughts revolved around his new life. However, in speaking with the Family Dispute Resolution practitioner at intake, he became curious about how his children might cope with this new direction and resolved to support them more.

He too commenced the Post Separation Parenting Course.

Sharing responsibility

The course gave each parent a new perspective on their separation and the important place that each has in their children’s lives.

When the day of the joint mediation session arrived after both parents had attended a post-separation parenting course, Sam and Gill chatted amicably in the same waiting area.

Asked by the practitioner what had led to their change of heart, they explained they now saw their separation in a new light.

Previously, they had not been able to see past their own feelings to recognise their children’s needs.

However, undertaking the course had shown them the importance of putting their children first.

After the course, each had contacted the other citing a desire to work together as co-parents for the sake of their son and daughters.

Discussions continued in a child-focussed, cooperative manner.

A parenting plan was reached and both parents made a full commitment to their children.

Gill and Sam continue to build a strong co-parenting alliance based on mutual respect and understanding – driven by the needs of their children.

 

Centacare

Meeting the Challenge

Centacare Catholic Family Services is a Catholic welfare organisation delivering a range of services across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Client Services

45 Wakefield Street Adelaide SA 5000
T 08 8215 6700
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

Opening Hours

Monday – Tuesday | 9am – 5pm
Wednesday – Thursday | 9am – 9pm
Friday | 9am – 5pm

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