The Victorian Government is reforming the Child and Family Serivces sector to shape the long-term future of the support service system for vulnerable children and families. The Government is calling this reform the “Roadmap to Reform: Strong Families Safe Children" and released it in April 2016. You can find details at the Strong Families Safe Children website.
This comes in the context of the Family Violence Royal Commission the homelessness reforms and a May 2015 Victorian Auditor General inquiry into ChildFirst and Integrated Family Services, a major source of funding for the Caroline Chisholm Society.
Caroline Chisholm Society is actively involved in advocacy for keeping families together through early intervention.
We provided the Victorian Government a submission to their policy work:
- CCS Cover Letter to Submission Nov 2015
We offered our opinion when the Roadmap was released:
On 26 November 2014, the Victorian Government announced its platform for housing-related initiatives, known as the Plan for Fairer Safer Housing.
In advocacy for those at risk of or currently homeless, we work with our colleagues at the Council for the Homeless Persons, Tenants Union of Victoria, and the Western LASN.
With regard to this reform, we have expressed our support for more stable tenure as we believe that stable environments help new families to build better attachment and raise their children well.
We decided to 'have our say' on the review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
The Early Childhood Development Project was a statewide pilot funded by the Department of Human Services and targets vulnerable children aged 0-5 years. The project consists of two staff who cover the Western Suburbs' Local Government areas of Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Hobson’s Bay and Wyndham. The Project is auspiced at the Caroline Chisholm Society Moonee Ponds office.
The Project aims to strengthen and enhance the relationships between child FIRST/family services and early years' services. The Project's objectives are twofold; to strengthen the pathways for vulnerable children and their families to access early years services and to remain engaged. Secondly, to enhance service delivery through capacity building strategies such as secondary consultations, individualised care coordination and educational opportunities.
Through an extensive consultation process across all five local Government areas, Project Coordinators were able to develop strategies to engage vulnerable families and identify numerous strategic partnerships. The Early childhood Development Project Coordinators commenced the implementation of a sub-group of cross sector professionals recruited from the Maribyrnong Early Years Alliance and the Child Family Services Alliance to develop relationships, share information and enhance referral pathways for vulnerable families in the west. The group named the Western Vulnerable Children’s Network continues to secure participation from Council and Government representatives within the catchment area and creates opportunities for Council and Community services to interact.
Conversations were held with several training providers regarding educational opportunities to better prepare early years professionals to assess and identify vulnerable families. Sector training gaps have since been identified and integrated to reflect in local training calendars and maintain the focus on capacity building. In contrast, child family services began to utilise the expertise of Senior Coordinators regarding secondary consultations. Consultations included child care benefit enquiries, entry to early years services and advocacy for vulnerable families when accessing services.
Identifying resources that both sectors have recognized as providing opportunity to build capacity has become realized, such as assisting child family services to navigate the early years referral process and enabling the early years sector to engage and instigate having difficult conversations with Parents. These resources were officially launched on 17the September 2012 by Child Safety Commissioner Mr Bernie Geary and circulated across both sectors.
The Early Childhood Development project ceases on the 28th September 2012 however the Caroline Chisholm Society continues to reinforce the Project’s ethos of collaborative partnerships, sector capacity building and the promotion well being for each and every child.