Children, Youth and Families

Children, Youth and Families

In the 2017-18 period, we supported 4122 children and young people across Queensland through our early childhood, out-of-home care, family support and transition to independence services and programs. We launched the Youth CONNECT program - the world’s first Social Benefit Bond that focusses specifically on supporting young people exiting statutory care who are at risk of homelessness. Gili Burra, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, was established and we further strengthened our commitment to Indigenous children, families and communities by committing to the Family Matters Campaign. Our partnership with Digi Youth Arts continued and we made a difference through our CYCLE Program.

 

Children, Youth and Families

The priorities, opportunities and challenges in supporting and caring for vulnerable children, young people and families within our communities across Queensland are complex. At Churches of Christ Care's Children, Youth and Families, we focus on how we can better engage, influence and advocate at a broader level to enhance the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society.  We are also focussed on enhancing practice and delivering innovative services and programs that ensure the highest quality of care to support  development of safe, resilient and capable individuals and families who are positively connected with their communities . 

Over the past 12 months a key strategic focus has been to refocus early learning and care programs that increase accessibility for vulnerable families to quality early childhood programs and make a real difference in their lives. We will continue this work. Additionally, we are focusing on providing nurturing and supportive care services and environments that enable children and young people to grow strong, be safe and connected to family, community and culture. 

For us, this will be achieved through two foundational principles:

  • Every child, young person and family is supported to thrive, not just survive. 
  • A genuine commitment to reduce the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in statutory care.

We will do this by enabling opportunities for children, young people and families to be safe, connected and supported to achieve overall health and wellbeing.

 

 

Early Childhood

Children and families in Cunnamulla, Gin Gin, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Brisbane continued to benefit from our accredited early childhood and family day care programs. Our early childhood programs offer a home-based childcare service that has supervised, high quality care in a qualified early childhood educator’s home, at a day care centre or kindergarten.  We also continued to provide In-Home care services in the Wide Bay area, providing care in the family’s home by qualified early childhood educators.

We secured a further four years of funding from the Queensland Department of Education to operate the Pathways to Early Learning and Development program in Bundaberg and Maryborough.  

All of our services meet or exceed all relevant legislations and were evaluated and monitored as part of the national approach to quality and assessment.  We operate both in-scope and out-of-scope services under the National Quality Framework.

 

Family Support Services

Our intensive family support services assisted over 500 vulnerable families to address multiple and/or complex needs and build their capacity to safely care for and protect their children.  An additional 1293 families received support through our Family and Child Connect services, ensuring families are connected with right services and advice at the time it is needed.  We are also now providing intensive family support services across a broader area throughout the Mackay/Isaac and Burdekin regions.

In the Townsville region we delivered Family Support Services on behalf of the Australian Government, strengthening families to meet challenges faced during different stages of their lives. Other community-based services provided included the family support service in Maryborough.

Clinical nurses are now a vital part of our intensive family support services at Mackay, Bundaberg and Brisbane South/South West. A Churches of Christ Care registered nurse provides maternal, post-natal and general health advice to families and other community organisations.

 

Out of Home Care

We have seen continued growth in out-of-home care, which is reflective of the increasing need. Children, Youth and Families provide care to over 20 percent of all children in care across Queensland.  The majority of this care is provided by more than 1200 dedicated and committed foster and kinship carer families, who selflessly provide the support, safety and love to children and young people in need. In the 2017-18 period, we have seen a significant growth in the number of kinship carers we support with kinship carers now making up over half our carer cohort.

For young people who are unable to be cared for in a family based environment, we also provide alternative care services such as therapeutic residential care.  12 residential services throughout Queensland provided an alternative to traditional foster care that is individualised for young people aged 12-17 years. 122 children and young people received residential care support in Mount Isa, Townsville, Brisbane, Logan, Gold Coast and the North Coast at Caboolture and surrounds.

We encourage our staff and young people to challenge themselves in a variety of activities that provide opportunities to focus on future goals, build self-esteem and be positively connected to the community.  This year, a total of seven staff and young people were involved in the Kokoda Challenge and 60km Cycle Challenge.

 

Child, Youth Centre for Learning and Employment (CYCLE)

The Children, Youth Centre for Learning and Employment (CYCLE) program supported 20 young people — with 50 now supported since the program’s inception in 2015. The program addresses the educational and psychosocial needs of young people in our out-of-home-care services who are disengaged or excluded from mainstream schooling. It is having a powerful impact:

“If CYCLE was not an option available for me, I would be stuck in a mainstream school. CYCLE helps me catch up in the learning I have missed in the past few years. I get one-on-one assistance which helps me focus on the areas of learning that I struggle in. I really enjoy doing school work at CYCLE because I can do it at my own pace, so I don’t have to worry about falling behind.”

– Young person, 15 years old

Youth CONNECT

  • World-first Social Benefit Bond to increase resilience against homelessness in young people with a care experience
  • Commenced December 2017
  • 300 young people to be supported over six years
  • Based on a housing first approach with wrap-around support services

Youth CONNECT is the first Social Benefit Bond in the world to focus specifically on supporting young people exiting, or who have exited statutory care, and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Created and delivered by Churches of Christ in Queensland in partnership with the Queensland Government and private sector investors, it is a joint organisational response between our Housing Service and Children, Youth and Families that provides participants with four levels of support: housing; employment; education and work readiness; and personal development. 

36 young people have engaged in the program so far and 19 have obtained suitable accommodation through our Housing Service.The program aims to support up to 300 young people over a six-year period and is currently offered in south east Queensland and the Townsville regions. 

The program offers young people leaving state-based care with a truly holistic, individualised and intensive program of support that brings together our extensive experience under a single program helping them to build resilience, achieve and maintain stable accommodation and improve their overall wellbeing opportunities in life.

Our Housing Service works in partnership with organisations such as the Lady Musgrave Trust who provide us with accommodation options for young women and Second Chance who provided funding to assist with rent start-up costs such as bonds and initial rent payments for eligible participants.

Children, Youth and Families developed a research partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast to complete participatory action research and evaluation of the program. As part of the collaborative approach necessary to develop this evaluation strategy, the team is consulting with a range of stakeholders, including the Churches of Christ in Queensland management and Ethics Committee and the Gili Burra Advisory Committee.

 

Gili Burra - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee

The Gili Burra Advisory Committee was established to play an important part in building our cultural capability as an organisation, providing cultural advice about practice when working with Indigenous community, children, young people and families. The committee has found a name in traditional language that resonates with who we are and what we hope to achieve. The name means light (Gili) in the sky (Burra) in traditional language, which reflects both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and aligns with our mission of Bringing the light of Christ into communities. 

Family Matters Campaign

As an organisation, we committed to the Family Matters Campaign that aims to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040 and ensure children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture. With a significant over-representation of Aboriginal orTorres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, this demonstrates our commitment to creating a future that ensures children and young people have every opportunity to be connected to their culture and support them to thrive.

Digi Youth Arts – Partnership

We have continued our partnership with Digi Youth Arts, working together with young people and attending and participating in various shows and productions. Young people have really enjoyed attending seeing their culture on stage with performances by Indigenous artists.

Two young people from our services have participated in a film for a project called “All that Remains” by Digi Youth Arts, where artwork and interviews were projected onto the Story Bridge in Brisbane. A documentary on the making of the play Dislocated and the partnership between the two agencies was recently created. The young people immensely enjoyed being filmed and interviewed about their experiences.

Key Statistics

Foster and kinship carers

Service location Number of carers Number of kinship carers Total
Mount ISA 63 13 76
Townsville 61 27 88
Mackay 53 34 87
Bundaberg 60 38 98
Fraser Coast 90 46 136
South West 111 57 168
South East 163 220 383
North Coast 6 119 125
Brisbane 0 76 76
Total 607 630 1237

 

Number of clients

Service location Foster and Kinship Care Supported Independent Living Service Residential Care Services Assessment and Intervention Service TOTAL    
Mount Isa 161 3 6 0 170
Townsville 214 11 18 253 (72 families) 496
Mackay 200 11 0 275 (60 families) 470
Bundaberg 200 10 0 0 210
Fraser Coast 259 12 0 0 296
South West 348 7 9 0 364
South East 711 14 38 71 834
North Coast 192 13 7 0 212
Brisbane 97 12 44 0 153
Total 2382 93 122 624 3205
Increase on prior year -7.44% 33% 2.45% 20.03% -.50%

 

Children who accessed early childhood and learning services

Service Number of children
Gin Gin Family Day Care 99
Centenary Family Day Care 178
Cunnamulla Vac Care and ASC 10
ECC Cunnamulla 70
Maryborough Family Day Care 212
Hervey Bay Family Day Care 309
Total all services 878

Family Support Services

Intensive Family Support Service Referrals Annual Cases
Brisbane South and South West 271 166
Moreton Bay 239 187
Bundaberg 116 65
Mackay 74 61
Mackay Coast 28 10
Mackay Isaac 6 4
Burdekin 18 15
Total Intensive Family Support 752 508
Bundaberg and Fraser Coast FACC 1293 864