St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

CatholicCare Social Services – putting families first


Catholic Outlook May 2014: DWF Appeal
Family Support Services is child centred and family focussed.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook May 2014

Your donation to this month’s Diocesan Works Fund (DWF) Appeal will help CatholicCare’s Family Support Services to address issues such as mental health, parenting, bullying, domestic violence, keeping children safe, ADHD, adult literacy, homemaking skills, unemployment.

The small team of nine people comprises social workers, counsellors and psychologists who are based at Blacktown, Quakers Hill and Penrith, with a particularly important outreach (in the light of the recent bushfires) to the Blue Mountains.

They find it extremely rewarding when they are able to make positive outcomes in the lives of very vulnerable people.

Family Support Services is child centred and family focussed and has a strong emphasis on developing parenting skills through parenting training groups such as the 1-2-3 Magic and Emotion coaching program.

It aims to teach parents how to deal with their children’s difficult behaviour. The system requires the parent to use less talk and less emotion, which in turn encourages the development of children’s ability to manage their own emotional reactions to parental boundaries (or emotional intelligence).

Other important programs run by Family Support Services include:

Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, which assists parents to learn how to build positive relationships with their children, as well as learn ways to manage misbehaviour.

Engaging Your Adolescent is a three-week program to help parents understand and negotiate with teenagers, hopefully creating a more harmonious household.

Keeping Children Safe is a six-week program focusing on children’s safety by exploring what Community Services looks for when notified about a child.

Bringing Up Great Kids is a program that looks at reflective parenting, building a child’s brain, emotion, behaviour and mindfulness.

Circle of Security is a program to help parents develop their attachment with their child and to understand the importance of that bond.

Managing the Bull, a six-week course for children in Years 7-9 that builds resilience in bullied teens through games, activities and discussions. In a safe, supportive environment, participants learn to recognise bullying, discover inner strengths, build self-esteem, communicate effectively, deal with cyber-bullying, build support networks and use personal protection plans. It is hoped that this highly successful program will be rolled out to Year 6 students in the near future.

REACH (Responsibility, Education, Acceptance, Connection, Hope) is a nine-week psycho-educational wellbeing group program for individuals with a mood disorder, including bipolar and depression, which is run by qualified Black Dog Institute trained facilitators.

Family Support also offers a young mums’ support group to assist mums aged 25 years and younger. There is also the Supported Playgroup. These groups run during school terms.

CatholicCare Family Support Services work broadly falls into two categories – Short Term Assistance (12 weeks or less) and Intensive Family Support. Both provide assistance on a one-to-one basis.

Short Term Assistance is able to provide a referral service from the school or Departments of Health, Education or Police. Early intervention is the key and workers tailor their assistance to the needs the family has identified. Advocacy with the Department of Housing, Local Government, Courts, Police and Centrelink forms an important part of the work.

Intensive Family Support provides on-call assistance for the first 12 weeks of involvement and is accepted on a consensual basis. However, it is implied that children may be removed to care if the program is not undertaken. Families are referred to the service and the aim is to move clients to make real changes in parenting.

This program uses the well-researched Homebuilders Model which works on the philosophy that it is best for children to be raised in their own families, wherever possible.

Representative of the wide variety of people who find themselves at the door of Family Support Services is Harry – a special needs, single father, of a boy and girl.

Harry has ADD and literacy and numeracy issues. He came to CatholicCare Family Support Services urgently needing help.

Among other things, his children were very fussy about what they ate, especially when it came to vegetables, causing him to resort to a well-known brand of fast food. As a consequence, they weren’t getting the necessary balanced diet.

Family Support Services was able to show Harry how to make simple, tasty, cheap and nutritious meals such as curried sausages with rice where the vegetables are hidden, and the children actually like it!

Harry learned a wide range of other skills that enabled him to be a more successful father and homemaker.

Among the wide range of families assisted by Family Support Service, Sandra manages to sum up the positive outcomes achieved:

“I’ve never had anybody show me how to cook, eat nutritious foods, do cleaning the best way, look after kids or how to make sure I have enough money for all these things. I’ve just never been taught. Family Support Services showed me how to make it work.”

Family Support Services is funded by Family and Community Services and the Diocese of Parramatta. It is located at the St Patrick’s Parish Centre at Blacktown, Catherine Villa in Quakers Hill and St Nicholas of Myra Parish Centre in Penrith.

For more information tel (02) 9933 0222 or visit CatholicCare Paramatta website

Faith at Work is the theme of the Diocesan Works Fund (DWF) Appeal being held in parishes and Catholic schools throughout the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta during May. This appeal is an opportunity to act together as a diocesan family to support ministries and services that no single individual or parish can offer.

You can donate through your parish or school or online at Faith at Work: 

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