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EDFD221 Agency Visit: Assignment 2

Brodie Goricanec

Child and Family Services (CAFS) is a community service organisation that provides
assistance to children, young people and families who are vulnerable or are in need
of support. Their goal is to give every individual the best opportunity to live in a safe
and nurturing family (Child and Family Services, 2015). More than 185 staff and 200
volunteers work for Child and Family Services in offices in and around Ballarat,
Ararat, Bacchus Marsh and Daylseford, providing help and support to more than
5,000 individuals and families each year across the Victorian central Highlands
region. Child and Family services have a long running history of supporting families,
dating back as far as 1865 (CAFS, 2015). CAFS are still passionate and committed to
helping children and families in need.
Child and Family Services offer 50 different services, varying on a range of levels,
which are offered to young children, families, young adults, both male and female.
However, at first glimpse CAFS website only headline a few of these. There are four
key areas, which act as an umbrella for further services within these categories.
Family and Early Childhood services aims to prevent the need for children and
young people, being removed from their families, promoting positive family life and
community connectedness (CAFS, 2015). Out of home support services help those
who have been removed from their families due to safety concerns of the child.
Family violence intervention is another program where children and young people
are often suffering die to conflict between parents (CAFS, 2015). The number one
priority with these particular programs is to try and break the cycle by educating
parents to consider their childs needs, assisting with abusive behaviours,
supporting family breakdowns and protecting these vulnerable children and young
children at all times.
Legislation, a group of laws governing behaviours in society, is reflected throughout
the policies and programs that Child and Family Services provide to the wider
community in a number of ways. Several of the programs offered by CAFS are
funded by the state government, which means that they are directed by state
government legislation. It is also important to understand and acknowledge that the
type of legislation depends on the case that Child and Family Services have been
given at that particular point of time (B. Hoye, personal communications, April 23,

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2015). The most concrete area of legislation for CAFS is when they have children
who have gone into care, that being either foster care or kinship care, meaning
someone still within their family. There are also other avenues, which result in
adoption of the child or permanent care, meaning that mum and dad may have
some rights but the legal parent/s in the situation is the foster family at the time. All
of these different scenarios and care options for vulnerable children and young
adults are identified and governed by the Children, Youth and Families Act (B. Hoye,
personal communication, April 23, 2015). Objectives of this act is to promote
childrens best interests, focus on early intervention and improve outcomes for
children and young adults in the child protection and out of home care system
(Department of Human Services, 2013). This act influences and guides the amount
of control that CAFS has over their lives. Another area of legislation that CAFS
follows is around Family Law and removing the children from their parents care by
the government and into dictating who is getting custody. The Family Law Act 1975
focuses on the rights of children and the responsibilities that each parent has
towards their children (Attorney-Generals Department, 2005).
Child and Family Services is built on a foundation of social justice. Social Justice is in
place to ensure that people in our community are considered in a fair and rightful
manner and aims towards helping the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups
in our society (Education and Communities, 2015). Child and Family Services clearly
adhere to this on various levels, by providing what they believe is a good service,
which attempts to achieve the best possible outcome for a child and their overall
family situation. CAFS role is to make a difference and hopefully impact and stop in
some cases the generalisation aspect within their family.

Advocating is a strong

focus within this organisation because they believe that its all about going out and
getting a result not just providing a service (B. Hoye, personal communications,
April 23, 2015). During the agency visit it became evident that Child and Family
Service employees and volunteers acknowledge the importance of going beyond
the call of duty and their services.
There are a number of ways in which children, youths and families can become
involved with CAFS. Help could be offered through day/ night stays with the
assistance of nurses and social workers to demonstrate and inform for example how
to settle your baby. This is seen as a self-referral and is potentially the first step
towards identifying that a child is in need (B. Hoye, personal communications, April

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23, 2015). Child First and Intake service are the central intake point for Child and
Family Services. Response to these referrals is dictated by the severity of the
situation and the immediate needs of the child. Child First ensures that their actions
and decisions are made based on the best interest and safety of the children (CAFS,
2011). Referrals can come from CAFS and/ or other service providers such as:
domestic violence agencies, educational providers, psychological services, as well
as Victoria Police. The next point of contact is Family Services, which is a voluntary
program where families work alongside therapists in an attempt to overcome
particular obstacles (CAFS, 2011) At any time these families can disengage from the
service. If the intervention of family services is unsuccessful and the severity of the
situation continues to escalate families are then faced with having their
child/children

removed

from

their

immediate

care

(B.Hoye,

personal

communication, April 23, 2015). As teachers it is critical that we acknowledge that if


that a childs safety is at risk we must report the situation to Child First. Bernadette
could not emphasis enough that teachers are another set of independent eyes on
children therefore we become one of the biggest sources of a referral (B. Hoye,
personal communications, April 23, 2015). Refer to appendix 1 for a more detailed
diagram of the referral process and who is involved at each stage/ process.
Within Child and Family Services there are some great responses and strategies in
place to address issues that may arise with children who are from culturally and
linguistically diverse backgrounds. One particular situation outlined by Bernadette
was that a child might say that they are aboriginal yet not know what that means
exactly (B.Hoye, personal communications, April 23, 2015). Therefore, caseworkers
need to unpack and figure out what that means for them. To do this, an example of a
strategy used is completing a life story document that covers all areas in a childs life,
including photos and exploring their identity and who they are. CAFS also use
Foundation House as a springboard to gain information and advice for children of
children of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as well as receive a
cultural care plan from a liturgical worker. Youth and Families Act 2005, outlines the
legal requirements for developing a cultural support plan for each Aboriginal child or
young person who have been placed in out- of- home care (Department of Human
Services, 2012). The cultural plan is a tool used by Child Protection to maintain
childrens connections to their families, communities and culture. It can also guide
educators choices when it comes to the individual learning of these students to
ensure that we are meeting their needs.

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Rather than being refereed to CAFS, children and young adults with a disability will
often be forwarded on to accredited Disability Services. Disability Services will take
on the role that Child and Family services would normally be responsible for. During
the interview, Bernadette explained that every child entering through their doors
are placed on a behavioural support plans, especially if they are in residential care,
which help carers deal with numerous unexpected situations (B. Hoye, personal
communication, April 23, 2015).

These behavioral management plans are

implemented once workers have been consulted with psychologists that work
alongside Child and Family Services from an organisation called Take Two.
There are a number of theories that have been used within the organisation of Child
and Family Services to help shape the way they operate and how they approach
varying situations.

These theories are; strength based practice, trauma and

attachment, motivational interviewing and the concept around power differentiation


between men and women, meaning that women are not responsible for mens
violence. Motivational Interviewing is used by CAFS because they believe that it
useful towards encouraging people to want to change for themselves. Hohman
(2011) supports this by acknowledging that social workers are called to work
alongside their clients as a partnership, to recognise and emphasise their clients
strengths to assist clients in meeting their own needs. It is about their abilities and
finding out ways that will hopefully make them implement the necessary changes
needed to get their lives on track and break the cycle (B.Hoye, personal
communications, April 23, 2015). The strength - based practice is one of the main
theories guiding Child and Family Services. This approach encourages CAFS to
support and reinforce child and family functioning rather than focus on individual or
family deficits. It places the helping practitioners into the role of a partner, rather
than an expert (Laursen, 2000, p.70). Attempts to reduce dependency on
professional at a later stage by having children and families work with practitioners
in the early stages of intervention is the shared aim of both strength-based practice
and CAFS.
The most important thing to remember is that Child and Family Services holds the
safety of the child at its forefront. In an attempt to protect children, keep families
together, CAFS need the continual support of all their employees, volunteers and
members of the wider community.

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References:
Australian Government Attorney- Generals Department. (2005). Families. Retrieved
from http://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Families/Pages/default.aspx

Child and Family Services. (2015). Child and Family Services: About CAFS. Retrieved
from http://www.cafs.org.au/about/introduction

Child and Family Services. (2011). Annual Report 2010/2011. Retrieved from
www.cafs.org.au/library/file/19/2010-11_Annual_Report.pdf

Department of Human Services. (2006). Children, Youth and Families Legislation [Fact
sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-

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department/documents-and-resources/reports-publications/children,-youth-andfamilies-legislation-fact-sheet

Department of Human Services. (2012). Program requirements for the Cultural Support
Plan Program. Retrieved from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?
q=cache:4eKniUHzogoJ:www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0009/72180
9/Program-requirements-for-the-Cultural-Support-PlanProgram.doc+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

Hohman, M. (2011). Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice. Retrieved from


http://www.eblib.com

Laursen, E. (2000). Strength-based practice with children in trouble. Reclaiming


Children and Youth, 9(2), 70-75.

NSW Government Education and Communities (2015). Social Justice Principles. Retrieved
from
http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/pdhpe/core1/focus/focus1_1/4003/health_pri1_1_2_1.htm

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