Department of Human Services

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CFSS services

Diagram: Understanding the System. There is a link on this page to a plain text description.

Plain text description of the diagram: Understanding the System

The Department of Human Services (DHS) funds and delivers a range of early intervention services for South Australian families and children under the CFSS. Delivering services for government, our Safer Family Services team comprises qualified social workers and allied health professionals with wide-ranging experience working with vulnerable families. We provide support to children and families at risk of harm, neglect and family violence by deliberately and strongly intervening. This work disrupts the patterns of intergenerational trauma, and to increase the number of children able to be cared for safely in their homes — connected to community and culture.

Safer Family Services is committed to providing services that are inclusive of the child’s voice and do not position children as passive recipients of services. We are committed to working restoratively, building on the resilience and strengths of Aboriginal people — working with, listening to, hearing and acknowledging cultural identity and translating this into practice.

Universal Health and Education

Universal Health and Education

Universal Health and Education play important roles in supporting all children and families.

They include:

  • ante-natal care
  • Child and Family Health Services
  • child care and playgroups
  • pre-schools and schools.

Universal services provide early identification and referral for children and families who may require targeted support.

These services are very well placed to support families early to prevent or reduce family vulnerability and risk to children.

Targeted Health and Human Services

Targeted Health and Human Services

Targeted Health and Human Services provide support to children and families with additional needs. These services aim to minimise the effect of risk factors for children and families by building protective factors and resilience.

Targeted Health and Human Services include:

  • drug and alcohol services
  • mental health services
  • collaborative case management services, and
  • housing support.

Child Safe Environments

Child Safe Environments

The Child Safe Environments program supports organisations providing services to children and young people to build and maintain environments that are both child safe and child-friendly.

Learn more about Child Safe Environments

Adults Supporting Kids (ASK)

Adults Supporting Kids (ASK)

ASK is a self-service website with information for anyone concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child, young person, or family. It is a safe place to find support and connect with information, free local support services or someone to talk to.

Features include:

  • topic pages with information and main services
  • a service directory
  • a self-reflective tool (Just ASK) for those unsure what help they are looking for
  • a professional portal for those working with children, young people, and families.

ASK is managed by the Department of Human Services.

Visit the Adults Supporting Kids website

CFSS Family Support Services

CFSS Family Support Services

Family Support Services provide case management and programs for children and families with low-level safety concerns. Families may be supported by these services if:

  • they have had successful outcomes from their participation with Intensive Family Services, and now need less support, or
  • they are at an early stage of experiencing difficulties. Support now will reduce the chance that difficulties will get worse.

Family Support Services provided by DHS Safer Family Services include:

  • Families Growing Together, and
  • Community Development Coordinator program.

Families Growing Together

The Families Growing Together program delivers parenting workshops face-to-face and online. The program is linked closely to the Parenting SA suite of Parent Easy Guides and delivers parenting support statewide.

Learn more about the Families Growing Together program

Community Development Coordinator program

Community Development Coordinators (CDCs) are based in the Department for Educations children’s centre's across South Australia. CDCs work within a strength-based approach focused on creating a sense of belonging and identity for families within their local and broader community. Together with local families and community groups, they identify and strengthen protective factors within a community, enabling co-designed and co-owned programs that mobilise local resources. CDCs work holistically to build individual and local capacity and enable community-led responses.

Learn more about Community Development Coordinators

CFSS Intensive Family Services

CFSS Intensive Family Services

To address the needs of priority populations, DHS funds a range of home-based Intensive Family Services.

Diagram: Home-Based Intensive Family Services. There is a link to a plain text description on this page.

Plain text description of the diagram: Home-based Intensive Family Services

Intensive Family Services are specialist services for families with high level safety concerns. The team provides intensive case management to help families move out of (or away from) the child protection system. The aim is to keep families and children together. A team works with the family and other key partners to address risks, but also develop goals and strategies to strengthen family safety, wellbeing and functioning.

Intensive Family Services are provided by both government and non-government services, (including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations).

Intensive Family Services provided by DHS Safer Family Services programs include:

Safe Start (formerly CFARNs)

Safe Start refers to multiple agencies working together to support families at risk of having their infants placed in out-of-home care.

Safe Start work with families who:

  • are pregnant or have infants under two, and
  • have risk factors that place children at increased risk of harm.

Safe Start provides the first support to families. Other local agencies then take over to provide ongoing support.

DHS Safer Family Services delivers the Safe Start program in southern metropolitan Adelaide, northern metropolitan Adelaide, the Whyalla and Port Augusta region, and the Limestone Coast. Relationships Australia SA delivers Safe Start across inner northern and western metropolitan Adelaide.

The networks were established in response to the Nyland Royal Commission.

Learn more about Safe Start

Strong Start program

The Strong Start program works with young, first-time mothers and their families who are experiencing complex issues. Ideally, Strong Start begins working with the parents during pregnancy. The aim is for the families to make a successful transition to parenting and ensure their children have the best possible start to life. Strong Start operates in two regions, North and South Metropolitan Adelaide.

Learn more about the Strong Start program

Family Practitioner program

Family Practitioners are based in the Department for Education children's centres across South Australia. They support high-risk families. They also support Children’s Centres who have identified, and are responding to, child protection concerns.

Learn more about the Family Practitioner program

Child Wellbeing program

The Child Wellbeing program focusses on children in early childhood centres and public schools in South Australia. Specifically, the program improves the safety and wellbeing of children who are vulnerable or at risk.
Services may include:

  • direct case management with children and their families
  • educating staff so they can better respond to child protection risks
  • developing community connections in school environments.

Learn more about the Child Wellbeing program

Child and Family Safety Network

Child and Family Safety Network (CFSN) is a network that plays a critical role in the delivery of the CFSS. Child and Family Safety Networks are made up of key agency partners from Government, non-government organisations (NGOs), and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), and work collaboratively as a mechanism to support partnership and multi-agency responses for the most at-risk children and families within South Australia.

CFSNs are operationalised as a shared approach to managing risk and ensuring that children’s rights and safety are a sector-wide responsibility. This includes an emphasis on assertive engagement with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities, to improve the social, health, and wellbeing outcomes for infants, children, young people, and their families in South Australia. There are 17 CFSNs across South Australia.

Intensive Family Services funded by DHS, delivered by non-government organisations include:

Referrals to these programs are required and are ONLY accepted from:

  • the Department of Child Protection
  • the Department for Education (Child Wellbeing sites only)*
  • SA Health Birthing Hospitals (birthing units only).

Professionals in those organisations must follow their internal departmental procedures. *Referrals from the Department for Education should be made via  Child Wellbeing Leaders or the School Principal.

Professionals outside these areas are encouraged to continue to make notifications to Child Abuse Report Line (CARL) and liaise with their relevant existing contacts for that family. Further information regarding services is available on Adults Supporting Kids (ASK) Professional Portal.

Out-of-home care prevention programs

Out-of-home care prevention programs

Prevention programs are underway to test service models for families at immediate risk of having their children placed in care. The initial response is a very high level of intensive family support to address immediate safety issues. This is followed by high intensity support to improve family functioning. The Department of Child Protection (DCP) refers families who have been notified and assessed to be at very high risk of having their children placed in care. Out-of-home care prevention programs are funded by DHS and delivered by non-government organisations.

Prevention programs include:

Safe Kids Families Together

Safe Kids Families Together supports vulnerable families with complex issues to keep their families together. Building on international evidence-based services, such as HomeBuilders from the US, families with multiple complexities and trauma history are provided intensive, face-to-face, in-home contact support.

The Department of Child Protection and Anglicare SA work together to deliver this program in the northern suburbs.

Taikurtirna Tirra-apinthi – Making Safer Families

Kornar Winmil Yunti (KWY) delivers Taikurtirna Tirra-apinthi – Making Safer Families to Aboriginal families in western Adelaide where children are at immediate risk of being placed in out-of-home care.

Resilient Families – Social Impact Initiative

The Resilient Families program works with families where children are at risk of abuse and neglect. The aim is to keep children safe at home, in community and culture.

Resilient Families will support up to 300 families over five and half years. Case workers support each family in their own home to address the family's risk factors and safety concerns. As part of this, case workers provide a 24/7 on-call service.

The Benevolent Society delivers Resilient Families, on a pay-by-results contract. This means that payments to The Benevolent Society are linked to achieving results, not just for delivering services.

The Resilient Families program operates in the southern metropolitan area, through to the Murraylands.

Resilient Families Annual Report

Resilient Families Annual Report July 2021 to June 2022 - Print format (PDF 879.5 KB)

Resilient Families Annual Report July 2021 to June 2022 - Plain Text (DOCX 539.9 KB)

Programs to prevent intergenerational trauma

Programs to prevent intergenerational trauma

Breathing Space

Breathing Space supports young women up to the age of 25, who have had a child removed from their care and are at risk of repeated removals.

The multi-disciplinary team provides women with intensive and individualised support to heal their grief and loss. They also address the impact of intergenerational trauma.

Breathing Space works in:

  • Adelaide
  • Marion
  • Onkaparinga
  • part of Port Adelaide Enfield.

The voluntary service is delivered by Centacare Catholic Family Services, after referral from approved services.

My Place

My Place provides specialist support and health services to young people aged 12 to 25 under the Guardianship of the Chief Executive or post-Guardianship. It aims to reduce:

  • the number of early pregnancies
  • removals of children into care
  • grief and loss
  • the impact of trauma on the young person, and where appropriate, their children (born or unborn).

The program is delivered by Yarrow Place and Metropolitan Youth Health (MYH), in collaboration with DHS.

Community Services Support Program - Family Support and Early Intervention

Community Services Support Program - Family Support and Early Intervention

The aim of this program is to keep children with families, and not in out-of-home care. Thirteen non-government organisations deliver services to families with low-to moderate-needs across South Australia.

Services range from community capacity building through to intensive case management.

This program, previously known as the Family and Community Development Program, was established under the provisions of the Family and Community Services Act 1972.

Page last updated : 12 Nov 2021

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