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 Since August 2019, AnglicareSA’s intensive pilot program for those on the brink of having their children removed has helped prevent 89 children from being placed in the state care system.

So far, Safe Kids, Families Together has completed working with 38 families, including 111 children who were at risk of being removed.

Through strengthening and empowering families, so far, more than 80 per cent of these children have been kept out of the state care system (58.5 per cent remain with birth family, 21.5 per cent have experienced an alternative outcome other than out-of-home care placement, such as being placed with another parent or kin).

The program is currently working with a further 11 families and 33 children – while AnglicareSA is hopeful for these outcomes, they are yet to be determined.

AnglicareSA Executive General Manager Community Services, Nancy Penna said the program continues to show early signs of success in keeping children out of the state care system through better supporting families in extreme crisis.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to prevent many children, who were on the pathway of being placed in the state care system, remain safely with their families,” she said.

“We work with families facing the most complex of issues and this pilot program has clearly demonstrated that with immediate, intensive and focused support, these families have the capacity to change to ensure the safety of their children and ongoing sustainability of a flourishing home environment.

“Families simply want the best for their children and what we do know is if they can remain safely with their birth family, then that’s by far the best place for them.”

The two-year Safe Kids, Families Together pilot program, which has been developed and implemented in partnership with the State Government, utilises evidence informed practices in family preservation and support services.

It tailors international evidence-based services to the local South Australian context, with a specific focus on enhancing staff and service skills, cultural capability responses and interventions.

On average, AnglicareSA works with a family for a period of seven months.

“When first engaging with a family, we have a four-to-six-week window to stabilise their home environment. During this time we spend up to 15 hours per week with them providing in-home support to help overcome their immediate challenges and ensure the safety of their children,” Ms Penna said.

“In the following months, we then spend up to five hours per week further strengthening the family to become self-sustainable, find their own solutions to flourish, and increase their parenting capacity to respond to the differing development stages and needs of their children.”

While the Safe Kids, Families Together program is unique because it engages with families who are on the brink of having their children removed, AnglicareSA welcomes continued State Government investment across intensive family support programs in South Australia.

Ms Penna said that AnglicareSA, as the state’s largest social services provider, is determined to continue having a real impact on families and children at risk of removal.

“AnglicareSA is committed to continue working in partnership with State Government and the social services sector to reverse the current trajectory of children being removed and placed in the state care system.

“There is still much to be done to turn around a system in crisis, so it’s vital that government continues to invest in strengthening the continuum of support for families at risk of losing their children in order to drive long-term change.”

Funded by the State Government, the $3 million Safe Kids, Families Together program is a two-year intensive family intervention pilot program which commenced in August 2019.

AnglicareSA, Department for Child Protection and Department for Human Services are working collaboratively to deliver the program and monitor its outcomes.