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.’’

Financial advocacy is helping alter the life course of vulnerable families in a state-first at Centacare.

Financial advocate Jacki Whittington has joined the multidisciplinary Targeted Intervention Service (TIS) on the frontline of child protection.

The unique service model pairs Jacki with families in which financial stress is a major contributing factor to placing child safety and wellbeing at risk.

Working in partnership with a senior practitioner, clinical nurse, and case manager, the financial advocate provides in-home, trauma-informed support to families facing complex challenges, such as intergenerational poverty, financial abuse and rising debt.

A large part of Jacki’s role is to help caregivers to understand their psychological relationship with money – and why they make certain choices that contribute to their financial hardship.

For example, overspending on and hoarding food because of their own experience of childhood neglect.

“You cannot underestimate how much people who have walked a life of trauma, abandonment and deprivation, are at the mercy of government departments and the incomes they receive,’’ Jacki said.

“The over-compensating for children’s birthdays as part of their own sadness; The binging when they get paid because they just want to feel normal; The self-harm that follows when they’re left with nothing.

“The choices they make around finances are just another reactive behaviour, except, with money, it’s make or break.’’

Jacki has been awarded an Energy Australia scholarship to undertake a Diploma of Financial Counselling which will allow her to increase the level of support available to families.

“You can’t make someone change just by saying `this is what you need to do’ because their relationship with money is not the same; you need the context behind their decisions,’’ she said. “This is their walk.’’

Through TIS, familes are empowered to identify and `awaken’ their strengths in order to build financial literacy and competency. In addition, they are supported to develop tools to track and achieve financial goals.

Currently, Jacki is working with 12 families within TIS which supported 150 clients in 2017/18.

Recently she started a weekly financial support group for young women engaged with Centacare’s Young Family Support Program at Malvern Place. The service provides support and accommodation for young pregnant or parenting women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

TIS Manager Michelle Warner said the introduction of financial advocacy had closed a gap in accessible financial counselling for vulnerable and socially isolated families.

“I remember one family where there were six attempts to support them to a community-based financial counsellor,’’ Michelle said.

“Even if they do get to there, it’s an hour-long appointment talking about what’s in front of them – not why they got here or how this has happened.

“We are learning that, just like with families who will share with nurses things that they might not share with case managers, the permission of this role has enabled families to really focus on income and expenditure and explore the why.’’

Centacare will soon replicate the model across Reunification Services.

Case Study

A young family is evicted from their home due to unpaid rent.

They move into a relative’s house but continue to overspend which places significant stress on their relationship.

The children display challenging behaviours at school and appear to have no food.

The mother feels shame.

Jacki begins working in partnership with the family.

She recognises that the mother is spending her entire fortnightly income on groceries.

Jacki supports the mother to understand why she is hoarding food.

This is traced to the mother’s own experience of neglect as a child.

Her way of feeling safe as an adult is to buy more food than the family needs.

Jacki works with the mother to identify her strengths.

Together they develop some simple tools to shift the mother’s relationship from hoarding food to buying less and saving more.

Gradually the mother begins to achieve small financial goals.

She experiences the pride of being able to pay outstanding debts.

This encourages her to keep saving and, in less than two months, she is able to reduce her food bill by more than half.

By understanding her relationship with money, the mother is empowered to make positive change.



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

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