The Parents and Families Advocacy Service works with parents and families involved with Child Safety Services in southern Tasmania to ensure the health and wellbeing of both children and their families.

There are many reasons why Child Safety Services maybe compelled to intervene and remove children from their parents or home.  It is understood, parents may at times become so overwhelmed by life’s challenges, they might not be able to make safe decisions for their family and/or their children.

A Child Safety Services intervention may occur if there’s a reasonable belief that a parent’s actions may place a child at risk of Physical or Mental Harm or, the child is residing in an Environment that would be considered unhealthy or dangerous.

Regardless of the reasons why a child might be taken into care, Child Safety Service understand, parents do love and care for their children. Child Safety Services will work with parents to ensure, where it is safe to do so, every effort is made to reunify a family as quickly as possible. The Parents Families Advocacy Service will work with parents to support them through this process.

Having your children placed into care can be confronting and, an extremely emotional distressing time for parents. It is also equally distressing for the children as they may have no understanding why they’ve been taken from their families. Confusion, distress, anger and grief are just some of the emotions children may experience.

A Child Safety Services intervention may occur when a formal notification is received from a range of sources that suggests one or, a combination of the following issues may require investigation and action to protect the safety of a child.  These might include;

  • housing,
  • financial,
  • domestic or family violence,
  • alcohol or drug misuse,
  • criminal activity,
  • mental health, and
  • disability (of carer or child)

Support

When working with Child Safety Services, the Parents Families Advocacy Service helps parents and families to:

  • Better understanding the reasons why an intervention has occurred
  • Understand the process and pathway to reunification
  • Understand your rights and responsibilities
  • Be heard and understood
  • Have the skills to self-advocate confidently and effectively

Assessment

  • Once a referral has been received, you will be invited to participate in an initial assessment interview with the program co-ordination.
  • During the interview questions are asked about the circumstances that have lead to Child Safety Services being involved.
  • Any documentation you may have been given by Child Safety Services, i.e. Care and Protection Orders or Affidavits etc. are useful documents at the initial meeting as it helps us to understand the concerns of Child Safety Services.
  • Your immediate and long term goals in relation to being re-unified with your child/children are discussed.
  • A variety of documents are completed, allowing the Parents and Families Advocacy Service to gather information and discuss your circumstance with agreed third parties.

Referral to a specialist service

  • Legal Aid support
  • Medical or Physiological assessments and/or treatments
  • Family violence counselling services
  • Alcohol and other Drugs counselling and support
  • Behavioural management counselling.
  • Housing support
  • Parenting support and training services.

Advocacy

  • Some parents or individuals may benefit from one on one support from our Peer Advocates in assisting them to understand Child Safety Services, their process and, the reasons for their intervention into your family.
  • One on one support from our Peer Advocates will also offer encouragement and assistance in becoming a more effective and stronger voice for your family when working with Safety Services.
  • One on one support will allow our Peer Advocates to work with you to identify and engage with more specialised services in support of your needs.

Information

  • The Parents and Families Advocacy Service can provide access to a wide range of resources which will assist you to better understand the Safety Services and how an intervention by the Service may affect parents, families, other care givers and the children.

Group work

  • Small group information and discussion sessions are aimed at allowing individuals to share and discuss their experiences with Safety Services, what worked for them and what didn’t.
  • Sessions may also highlight systemic problems or issues faced by people who become involved with the Safety Services and allow the Parent’s Families Advocacy Services to Advocate for change with Child Safety and other key stakeholders.
  • Sessions may assist in developing skills that assist communication with Child Safety Services.

Community capacity building

  • The Parents and Families Advocacy Service supports people to have greater control over their lives. We work with communities to build their capacity to develop solutions to identified issues.

Peer Advocates support

  • Peer Advocates are trained to work One on One with parents and families to support their needs.

How long does it take to be assessed?

Assessment times may vary depending on the situation. Call the Regional Co-ordinator to set up a meeting and we will talk through whether the Parents and Families Advocacy Service is right for you.

The Following examples* show how the Parents and Families Advocacy Service has supported parents and families to work better with Child Safety Services.

* Names have been changed to protect identity of families.

Gaining Skill – Sarah

Sarah is a single mother with both of her young children in care in Tasmania.  Sarah comes from an abusive background and has been unstable in her life for many years.  Child Safety Services has ongoing concerns about her mental health and instability.  Sarah would love to have her children back but has not made any progress and Child Safety Services are about to apply for permanent orders on both children until they are 18.

The Parents and Family Advocacy Service supported Sarah, providing her with information about the Child Safety Services process.  With a greater understanding of the process, Sarah has the knowledge and skills to negotiate ongoing access with her children.

Knowing your Rights – Madeline

Madeline is a single mother with a 13 year old boy on the autism spectrum.  Madeline discovered her son had been sexually abused and she was looking for better support services for him.  Madeline contacted Child Safety Services in Launceston and they were assessing her situation.  Madeline was very concerned that Child Safety Services would remove her son from her care.

The Parents and Family Advocacy Service provided Madeline with information about the Child Safety Services processes and supported her to understand her rights and responsibilities.  Child Safety Services closed her case and did not remove her son.

Understanding the Process – Mary and Colin

Mary is pregnant with her sixth child and her other five children are in care.  Mary returned a positive drug test for meth-amphetamines while pregnant.  Mary and her current partner Colin say that dealing with Child Safety Services is difficult and they don’t understand what is expected of them.

After a meeting with Child Safety Services, Colin said to the Parents and Family Advocacy Service Coordinator “It’s good to have someone like you here in case we don’t really understand what is being said, and it’s less confrontational.”