Barnardos has called upon our extensive experience in the field of child welfare, both in Australia and in the UK, and our work in partnership with Governments and other welfare organisations to develop a number of innovative stratagems, programs and techniques to aid our ability to offer constantly improved care to children suffering from abuse and neglect.
These innovations include:
Looking After Children Case Management System
The LAC system was developed in conjunction with the University of New South Wales to fulfil a need for a system that, once implemented, would enable the lives of children in care to follow as normal a pattern as possible. Tracing a child's developmental, medical and educational needs, the system assists seamless transference from one carer to another with minimum disruption to a child's life.
Barnardos Childrens Family Centres
Barnardos developed our Childrens Family Centres to offer flexible solutions to child welfare issues through a variety of programs. Each program in the Centre attempts to tackle the causes of abuse and neglect - reasons which often lie in the resources available to parents to care for their children.
Programs at each Centre vary as they reflect the needs of the local community and Government priorities with regard to children in the area.
Community Based Care
The placement of children without family into orphanages is a practice which was discontinued many decades ago by welfare authorities.
Barnardos was one of the first welfare agencies in Australia to pinpoint the complex fundamental emotional and nurturing needs of a child in fostercare and to implement a system of placements in the community which effectively answered those needs.
Temporary Family Care - TFC
One of the biggest problems facing children whose families are experiencing difficulties is being put in a childrens home or fostercare and then 'forgotten' by their welfare workers. They become 'lost' in a bureaucratic care system, which is not aware of them as individuals. As they begin to live with a new situation, their parents get discouraged and leave them there, and Government welfare workers, knowing that the children are safe, do not visit. These problems really damage children and led to the innovation of TFC. Children are placed in a family and every effort is made by their workers, carers and families to get them home as soon as it is safe and to make sure their individual needs for reassurance and their relationship with their family is respected.
Children who need to be in fostercare often have very disturbed behaviour and find it very difficult to move into their new family easily. Their care often involves foster parents in meetings with government, specialist helpers such as psychologists, speech therapists and people to assist with educational problems. They are often expensive to care for as they need special consideration, for example they may have few clothes when they arrive in care. Barnardos responded to the extra pressures on carers by providing real support, by giving extra training, providing financial assistance and expecting high standards of care. This has led to the innovation of 'professional care'.
Children who have been abused and neglected are often removed by the Courts from their families and placed in fostercare. Where there is no possibility of these children returning to their families, plans need to be made to find a permanent family for them to live with. If this does not happen children often move from foster families to institutions, and can become very psychologically disturbed. To avoid these problems Barnardos developed the innovation of Find-a-Family. This program moves children to 'forever' families as quickly as possible and works to make their situation as stable as possible, and help the young person to become fully functional members of the community. Wherever possible legal stability is sought through full adoption to the new caring family.
Adolescents who do not have a family to care for them, or where there is no hope of living with their parents, require help with accommodation and social support. They often do not wish to live in a 'new family' and form relationships with 'new parents'. Historically, these young people have made use of youth refuges or are homeless.
However, such temporary options cannot provide for these young people the long-term employment and training solutions which would form the basis for a productive adult life. Barnardos Community Placements program was implemented to offer support to young people in the form of stable living situations where they can grow to independence. Sometimes these placements are in families or with single people, sometimes in group housing or in supported 'home units' in the community.
Families that are experiencing difficulty caring for their children sometimes are helped by provision of one weekend per month where the children stay with another family in the community. These families may be experiencing difficulties because they are poor, single parent households or the parents may have an intellectual or physical difficulty or suffer mental illness. They greatly benefit by having the children form a close relationship with other people in the community. Their parents get a break and young people have the experience of getting to know another family. For example it may be the child's only experience of what its like to have a 'father' in their life. Respite Care is an innovative way of helping families with long-term difficulties where it is important for children to remain living with their parents.
Shared Family Care for Children with a Disability
A disability can be an enormous pressure on a family, particularly where there are other children who need care. The family may really wish to keep the child with a disability in their care but find that other family members are suffering as a result. Shared Family Care is an innovation that allows the family to care for the child with a disability for part of the time but share the load with another family.
Foster Care for Disabled Children
Sometimes the stress of disability or living in poverty means that a parent or parents need to place the child outside the family. In the past children could be placed with residential institutions but this can be a very difficult environment for the child. A family in the community who is prepared to take this child is a far preferable alternative and this has led to the innovation of Foster Care for Disabled Children.
Partrnerships with Government Departments
Government often finds it difficult to provide flexible, innovative solutions to children and young people's problems. Red-tape, standarised ways of doing things and financial rules mean that it is best for services to to be developed by a non-Government organisation such as Barnardos. In turn, we need financial support and the planning direction of Government and so a partnership with Government is an innovative way of meeting the needs of the community.
Mainstream Programs targeted to Ethnic Youth
Young people who have migrated to Australia or are refugees often have particular needs. They may have suffered torture, long periods of uncertainty, the shock of a new culture or may have partners who are finding it difficult to adjust to new ways. Whilst these young people need to be part of the Australian community and receive services, they also need workers who can understand their unique problems. Barnardos has innovative ways of working with young people from different ethnic groups.
Intensive Family Support
Wherever it is safe to do so, Barnardos keeps children with their own families in their own communities. Unfortunately, many families need intense, constant help to develop ways of looking after their children. Barnardos has developed new techniques for working intensively with parents in their own homes to teach them about their children's needs, care of the home, finding adequate income and childcare and managing behavioural and mental health problems.