Communities and Justice

Family Preservation Programs

Family preservation (FP) services are typically available to families who are in contact with the statutory child protection system where children have been reported as at risk of significant harm (ROSH). FP services differ from Targeted Early Intervention services, that can support families before they come into contact with the statutory child protection system. 

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) funds a range of FP services across the state that support more than 4,500 places for families. The voluntary programs aim to support parents to respond to their children’s needs and to create a safe and nurturing home. Whilst services vary in level of intensity, each provides a range of supports to promote parenting skills, family functioning, and child development. The goal is to keep children safely at home and to prevent them entering out of home care (OOHC).

The Family Preservation programs are:

  • Family Preservation (formerly Brighter Futures (including SafeCare) and Youth Hope)
  • Intensive Family Preservation (IFP)
  • Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS)
  • Resilient Families (RF)
  •  Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST- CAN®)
  • Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW ®)
  • Permanency Support Program – Family Preservation (PSP-FP)
  • Nabu

Each program has specific eligibility criteria to best meet the needs of the children, young people and families. This table summarises the age cohorts, goals and duration of the FP programs.

Family Preservation Programs summary 

Service Model Age Cohort Goal Length
Family Preservation (formerly Brighter Futures and Youth Hope) Birth-17 years or unborn children Early intervention and family preservation.  18 months (up to 24 months in exceptional circumstances) 
SafeCare  Birth-5 years
Up to 5 months (15-20 weeks)
Intensive Family Preservation (IFP)

Birth – 18 years

Family preservation, restoration support or OOHC placement stability  6 months (up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances
Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS) Birth-18 years for Aboriginal families only Family preservation, restoration support or OOHC placement stability  Up to 4 months (16-20 weeks) with ability to be extended in exceptional circumstances
Resilient Families (RF) Birth-6 years Family preservation Up to 12 months 
Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST- CAN®) 6-17 years Family preservation and restoration  6-9 months 
Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW ®) Birth-17 years Family preservation and restoration 6-9 months 
Permanency Support Program – Family Preservation (PSP-FP) Birth – 18 years Family preservation and restoration Up to 24 months 
Nabu Birth-18 years Family preservation and restoration Up to 18months 

Family Preservation (formerly Brighter Futures and Youth Hope)

In 2021, the Brighter Futures and Youth Hope Programs were combined to form Family Preservation (FP). FP programs support families with children aged 0 to 17 years (or who are expecting a baby) who are experiencing difficulty in their ability to care for their children.

To be eligible the children or young people must reside with their parents or, in one of the following:

  • A specialist homeless service (SHS) – provided the young person is not also in OOHC
  • Guardianship arrangement
  • Temporary care arrangement

Families must also be experiencing one or more of the following factors that might adversely impact a child or young person’s safety, wellbeing and development: Domestic/Family Violence, Mental Health concerns, Inadequate parenting skills or supervision, Limited School Attendance, Alcohol or other drug misuse, Parent/ child or young person with significant learning difficulty or disability, Limited family, social or community supports, Health condition requiring ongoing treatment.

The primary aim of the FP program is to deliver support to enable children and young people to remain living safely at home wherever possible and prevent unnecessary out of home care (OOHC) placement. In order to do so, the program focuses on improving child and family functioning and enabling families to access appropriate social and practical support.

Family Preservation is delivered by non-government agencies across NSW (PDF, 41.7 KB).

For further information on delivering the FP program, see Family Preservation Program Interim Program Specifications 2021 (PDF, 605.8 KB).

SafeCare

SafeCare is an evidenced-based, behavioural skills parenting training program that has been shown to reduce neglect and abuse among families with a history of, or risk factors for, abuse and neglect.

SafeCare forms part of the FP program and is offered across NSW by eight accredited FP service providers; Barnardos, CareSouth, CatholicCare, Mission Australia, SDN Children’s Services, Wandiyali and Wesley Mission..

The SafeCare program is targeted at parents of children aged 0-5 years receiving a service under the FP program whose children are at risk of neglect or abuse.

SafeCare  is delivered in the home in 60-90minute sessions, once a week for 15-20 weeks (or longer, if needed).  The program targets risk factors for child neglect and physical abuse in which parents are taught skills to create safe, nurturing home environments for their children.

The goals of SafeCare are to increase positive parent child interactions, improve how parents care for their children’s health, and enhance home safety and parent supervision, with the ultimate goal of reducing future incidents of child maltreatment.

If the family declines to participate in SafeCare, they are still eligible to receive services under the FP program.

Intensive Family Preservation (IFP)

The Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) program is based on a partnership between families, DCJ, and non-government service providers working to preserve the family structure and strengthen its functioning while keeping children safe. IFP provides intensive, in-home crisis intervention, practical assistance, counselling, and skill development to support children remaining in the care of their family, wherever this is a safe option.

The program targets families with children aged from birth to 18 years who are at risk of significant harm (ROSH) where:  

  • at least one parent/authorised carer is willing and available to work with the IFP service towards reaching the agreed case goals
  • key child/children aged 14 -18 years agree to receive and participate in the IFP service
  • the family has some strengths, or available resources or social supports that can be used to increase the children’s safety and enhance parenting capacity
  • intensive case management and support, particularly in relation to health and wellbeing, parenting, household management (including budgeting), practical support and social integration, are needed to address the family issues that place the child at ROSH

IFP service intervention is time limited and comprises:

  • an initial period (average up to three months) of intensive casework service delivery including 24-hour on call assistance followed by, if needed
  • a further “step-down” period (for up to three months) of less intensive, but individually tailored casework and assistance services. 
  • During the intensive phase, a caseworker will typically meet at least twice a week with family members, preferably in their home. The family’s needs determine the frequency of home visits. In general, it is anticipated that the frequency will reduce over the course of the intensive support phase. In exceptional circumstances, IFP services may be extended to a family for a further Six months. .

See also: Intensive Family Preservation Service Provision Guidelines (PDF, 112.8 KB)1  (PDF, 112.8 KB)  and  (PDF, 112.8 KB)Family Preservation Program Interim Program Specifications 2021 (PDF, 605.8 KB)

Other resources for IFP providers include: Consent to a referral to an IFP Services Form (DOCX, 60.1 KB) , User Guide for the IFP data collection tools (PDF, 201.1 KB), and Family information sheet (PDF, 225.9 KB).

Strengths and stressors tool (PDF) - to access this tool send a request to: family.preservation@dcj.nsw.gov.au

Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS)

FBS provides an intensive, time-limited, home-based program for Aboriginal families in crisis (and includes extended families). Children and young people in these families may be at risk of entering an OOHC (OOHC) placement due to protective concerns or have been placed in OOHC.

IFBS is based on the Homebuilders Model developed in Washington State. The premise of this model is that if a child or young person can be kept safely at home, it is best for them to grow up in their own families. IFBS is strengths based, using family group conferencing as a strategy to engage the family in decision making and to implement the principles of Aboriginal self-determination and participation.

Families eligible for IFBS are Aboriginal families subject to protective concerns who are experiencing some form of crisis and who are willing to have at least one caregiver work with the program and help in goal setting. The program is implemented over a period of 12-16 weeks, with flexibility to be extended in exceptional circumstances. The short-term timeline requires the intervention with the family to be goal-specific and oriented towards change, not ongoing support.

IFBS programs are delivered in the following Districts – Hunter & Central Coast (Tuggerah, Broadmeadow), Mid North Coast, Northern NSW & New England (Casino, Grafton, Kempsey and Moree) and Murrumbidgee, Far West & Western NSW (Wagga Wagga).

Service name and location NGO or DCJ Placement Target
Bamba-Baa IFBS - Moree NGO 22
Bamba-Baa IFBS - Moree NGO 22
Bungree IFBS - Tuggerah NGO 22
Burrun Dalai IFBS - Kempsey NGO 22
Malanee Bugilmah – Casino DCJ 28
Maroonbaliin - Broadmeadow DCJ 28
Ngangaagi IFBS – Wagga Wagga NGO 22

Total  166

See also: Intensive Family Based Services Service Provision Guidelines  (PDF, 489.1 KB)

Resilient Families

Resilient Families (RF) is a therapeutic based program delivered by The Benevolent Society in Sydney, South Eastern Sydney and South Western Sydney locations. RF provides long term, intensive support and evidence-based therapies to families with a child under 6 years of age, including unborn children, where the child/children are at risk of harm and are at imminent risk of entry into Statutory Out of Home Care. RF programs focus is to keep the child and other identified children in the family safe within their family by reducing risk and safety concerns so they can experience healthy and positive development.  

Services are delivered mostly in home over a period of 9 to 12 months with a focus on safety, parental coping skills, positive parenting skills and linking family members to other services and supports they need.

Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST- CAN®)

Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN®­) is a home-based intensive therapeutic program that targets families where there has been substantiated physical abuse and/or neglect of a child aged 6-17 years. It is a treatment for serious, high risk and complex cases, addressing the multiple factors known to be related to physical abuse and/or neglect across the key settings or systems within which the family is embedded.

MST-CAN® works with everyone in the home, and treatment is provided to the family for a period of six to nine months. Treatment applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, depending on family need. The timeframe is a guide and may be different given each family’s circumstances and needs, but the model strives to remain within these timeframes. MST-CAN® is not an open-ended service and can continue for a family beyond the contracted service period and does not require a re-referral.

MST-CAN providers can request a copy of the program guidelines from Familypreservation@dcj.nsw.gov.au.

Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW ®)

Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW®) is a home-based intensive treatment model for families with physical abuse and/or neglect of a child/young person aged between 0 and 17 years. FFT-CW® provides a family therapy-focused model for families with all levels of risk, who would benefit from a whole of family therapy approach. Concerns that may be addressed through FFT-CW® include child abuse and/or neglect, substance misuse, mental illness, school difficulties (including truancy), some instances of domestic family violence, and/or history of OOHC or involvement with DCJ.

The family receives family-based services, with sessions occurring in the home and/or community settings. The program is provided for a period of six to nine months. The timeframe may be different given each family’s circumstances and needs, but the model strives to remain within these timeframes. Booster sessions are also available to families after completing the program, however, FFT-CW® is not an open-ended service.

FFT-CW providers can request a copy of the program guidelines from Familypreservation@dcj.nsw.gov.au.

Permanency Support Program – Family Preservation (PSP-FP)

The PSP Family Preservation (PSP-FP) Program is designed to deliver wrap-around supports to preserve children and young people safely at home with their families and prevent unnecessary entry into out-of-home care (OOHC).

PSP-FP service providers receive a PSP-FP funding package for each family to enable the delivery of supports for up to two years, including child and family counselling, parenting skills, in-home supports and services to address specific identified risks.

The NSW Government has committed to diverting all funding for PSP-FP, up to $11m pa or 140 packages, from non-Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to the ACCO sector by June 2024. Though this transition of funding, it is expected that 300 more Aboriginal children and young people every year will be supported to stay safe with their families.

Nabu

Nabu family preservation and restoration program is delivered by Waminda in the Illawarra & Shoalhaven region. Nabu is a community-led early intervention, preservation, restoration and intensive family support service that works with Aboriginal families (including families and their Aboriginal children/young people) and children and young people (0-18 years) where risk of significant harm (ROSH) has been substantiated and child/children is/are at imminent risk of entry to Out of Home Care (OOHC).

The Nabu Program aims to strengthen and preserve Aboriginal families by preventing the need for Aboriginal children or young people to be placed away from their family and enabling children and young people who were placed in care, to safely return home.

Families can continue to engage with the service as needed for a period of up to 18 months. Flexibility is a core component of the service and from time to time the length of engagement for an individual family may be reviewed. The Program is designed to recognise that people may need support at different life transition points across the life cycle.

Last updated:

05 Jun 2024