Carer support services
My Forever Family NSW is the main training and support service for all carers in NSW. If you care for a child or young person, either with DCJ or a non-government agency, you can access training, support and advocacy through My Forever Family NSW. They support and train many different types of carers, from relative and kinship carers to people providing emergency foster care to guardians and out-of-home care adoptive parents. You can call them on 1300 381 581.
You can also contact the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care Secretariat (AbSec) if you care for an Aboriginal child or young person or if you are an Aboriginal person caring for an Aboriginal child or young person. Call them on 1800 888 698 if you have any questions.
Both these services are free.
Carer advocacy and support
Sometimes you need someone to speak up on your behalf. This is called advocacy. Advocacy helps you get the services you need and be treated with respect. If you want support or someone to advocate on your behalf, you can contact My Forever Family NSW or AbSec. Both these organisations advocate for carers and can offer support to you for a range of issues.
You can also ask your caseworker for advice about how to get the best help for your circumstances.
Peer support groups
There are many foster and kinship carer support groups, including grandparent carer groups, across NSW. These groups help you meet other carers, swap advice and build support networks in your area. You can find out more about carer support groups through My Forever Family NSW.
DCJ Psychological Services
DCJ psychologists offer a range of services for children and young people and their carers. Services include:
- counselling for children and young people that addresses their past trauma
- therapeutic My Life Story work
- behaviour support
- skills training and support for parents and carers.
Psychologists can treat or support:
- children and young people for grief and loss, anxiety, social skills, trauma and issues surrounding being a child in care
- carers as they care for abused and neglected children and young people, or for issues with attachment or being a foster or kinship carer.
Speak to your DCJ caseworker for a referral to these services. If you are with a non-government organisation, ask your case manager if they have a clinical team or therapist. You can also talk to your family doctor for a referral to a psychologist.
DCJ psychologists are a free service for DCJ carers.
Therapy based services for carers
If you care for a child or young person who has experienced significant trauma, you can access therapy based services provided by specialist counsellors or clinical staff. These services can help the child or young person in your care as well as support you as their carer.
Functional Family Therapy through Child Welfare (FFT-CW®)
This is a therapeutic home-based support service for families (including relative and kin) who are experiencing risk. The service can help improve your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the children you care for.
A proven support service, FFT-CW® uses positive and safe ways to communicate and address problems. By addressing the underlying causes of harm in the family, it can sustain positive changes in safety and family functioning.
The program is available to DCJ relative or kin carers who have been caring for their children for more than 12 months. The service is delivered over six to nine months.
Referrals are made through DCJ and this service is free and voluntary. For more information, visit this website or speak to your caseworker.
LINKS Trauma Healing Service
This an evidence-based service for children and young people in out-of-home care who have experienced trauma, and their carers. The service aims to improve the behaviour and emotional functioning of children and young people in out-of-home care.
LINKS Trauma Healing has two teams, one based at Penrith and the other at Charlestown. The service is for people in the Nepean and parts of the Blue Mountains, Hunter and Central Coast regions. It uses Trauma Informed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TFCBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Tuning in to Kids/Tuning in to Teens.
There is flexibility in where these services can be delivered. Each child or young person will receive a Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy check. If needed, they can also receive a psychiatric review.
For a child or young person to be eligible, they must:
- be 16 years of age or under
- have experienced two or more placements in the past six months
- be experiencing an increased need for respite care over the past 12 months.
For more information, email: email@example.com or phone 02 49851487 (Charlestown), 02 4722 7343 (Penrith).
This service provides specialist support from social workers and psychologists to children and young people under 15 years old and their carers. It aims to help children and young people in foster or kinship care stay in a stable home with their carer families for as long as they need to. Specialist support people can work with the child or young person and you and your family in your home.
There is also a version of this service for Aboriginal children and young people and their carers provided by Ngaoara and the Australian Childhood Foundation.
For a child or young person to be eligible, they must:
- be in foster or kinship care
- live in NSW (except Hunter New England or Nepean Blue Mountains)
- be 15 years of age or under
- have experienced at least two separate placement changes in the past six months.
Even if a child or young person you are caring for does not meet the above criteria, you can still contact OurSPACE and speak to a trained counsellor. The counsellor can offer advice and suggest what support you can access in your local area.
If you would like to know more about how you can access any of these services, speak to your caseworker or call 1300 381 581.
OurSPACE is a free service.
Carer support in non-government out-of-home care organisations
Some funded service providers have dedicated support staff for carers. In others, the same case manager supports both the children and the carer. You can ask your caseworker or case manager about what support is available for you, including how you can access local support if you are a foster or kinship carer.
Range of existing services
Carers can also seek support from the following services:
- After-hours and crisis
- Carer advocacy and support
- Childcare and respite care
- DCJ Psychological Services
- Payments and allowances
- Specialist support services
Remember, you can always speak to your caseworker if you need advice about where to get help.