In less than six months, an intensive pilot program being run in Adelaide’s northern suburbs has enabled 43 children, previously at risk of being removed from parental care, to remain safely with their families.
Being offered by Anglicare SA, the program has engaged with 15 families – with 54 children between them – with an 80 per cent success rate. Should this continue over the next 12 months, an estimated $10 million in savings could flow to the South Australian Government through keeping the children in parental care, notwithstanding the “immeasurable” outcomes for the families.
The $3 million pilot has been funded by the State Government of South Australia, and commenced in August 2019. Known as Safe Kids, Families Together, the program will engage 46 families and about 138 children annually for two years.
Based on the current success of the program, AnglicareSA CEO Peter Sandeman said the expected results for the full two years of the program could be savings of $26 million. “The pilot is clearly demonstrating that given the opportunity, families can make changes, find their own solutions and flourish,” he said.
“The families we work with love and want the best for their children. If children can remain safely with their birth family, then that’s by far the best place for them.”
The program was co-designed with key experts to ensure vulnerable families have the right supports in place to manage complex issues, and hopefully keep their family together. It engages families who have multiple complexities and trauma histories and are at risk of having their children removed.
Specialist support staff give families intensive, face-to-face, in-home contact, and build on existing international evidence-based services, such as HomeBuilders in the US, which demonstrates high outcomes of children staying safely with their families 12 months after intervention. There is then a lower intensity six-month period of follow up.
Mr Sandeman said research and overseas experience shows us that intensive family support is effective, describing the current rate of removal of children as “a system in crisis — the number of children and young people in out-of-home care continues to climb and we want to reverse this trend.”
“It is clear from our work at AnglicareSA that many families faced with the risk of losing their children will work hard to get back on track, and this program helps them do just that. Safe Kids, Families Together is a vital first step and continued government funding and support will enable us to drive long-term change.”
“We want to strengthen and empower families to enable them to keep their children safe at home – now and over the long term.”