CareSouth’s Brighter Futures team are passionate advocates for early intervention to keep families together.

So when CareSouth won the tender to be a pilot site for SafeCare - a ground-breaking US-based family preservation program – it was no surprise that our Brighter Futures caseworkers completed their training to deliver the program in record time.

SafeCare, developed more than a decade ago at Georgia State University and now rolled out across six countries, is an evidence-based training program for parents with children aged 0 to 5 years old, who are at risk of or have been identified as experiencing neglect and abuse.

CareSouth was one of a handful of Brighter Futures providers chosen by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services to implement SafeCare. Brighter Futures program manager Alex Muir had no doubt the program would be a great fit for her dedicated team.

“SafeCare aligns closely with the work already being done by our Brighter Futures team so we were very happy to be a part of this exciting program,” said Alex. “We were one of the first agencies to achieve certification of providers and that is a credit to the caseworkers here at CareSouth and the passion they have for the SafeCare Program.”

Brighter futures caseworker Emma Robertson completed her training in record time and is one of nine Brighter Futures caseworkers certified to deliver the program. Of these nine staff, two have received accreditation to become coaches.

When US-based facilitator Lacell Joseph, from Georgia State University’s National SafeCare Training and Research Facility, and her GSU colleague Akilah Thomas visited CareSouth’s Berkeley site earlier this year they were amazed at how quickly the team had completed certification and put their training into practice.

“Emma got certified so quickly,” said Lacelle. “We were just blown away. CareSouth was the very first agency to have all of their SafeCare providers certified before anyone else,” said Lacelle. “CareSouth didn’t let barriers that other organisations had reported impact their implementation. They made a choice to make it work.”

“And it really has worked,” added Akilah.

The Brighter Futures SafeCare providers have been working closely with 13 families across the Illawarra, five of whom are Aboriginal and one family from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse background.

As well as working in the field with Aboriginal families Emma represents CareSouth on the Aboriginal Reference Group – brighter Futures Evaluation, convened by FACS, to determine best practice for providing the program to Aboriginal families.

Emma has seen immediate and positive results of the SafeCare program.

“Families have become more confident in their own skill set,” said Emma. “They have more positive interactions with their children, as well as a better knowledge of health outcomes and strategies to manage their children’s health. We have also seen increased safety in the home and a reduction in risk factors that could potentially cause harm to children.”

“The program, run weekly for 50-90 minutes over 18 weeks, really works for families and the results have been extremely positive,” said Alex.

“Delivering modules in this way fits the needs of the families we work with. After working through the modules families have more positive interactions with their children and a better knowledge of health outcomes and strategies to manage their children’s health. We have also seen increased safety in the home and a reduction in risk factors that could potentially cause harm to children.

“We believe SafeCare should be a services-as-usual program. It gives a bigger range of families access to a program that is proven to work.”

*Earlier this year Four Corners aired a documentary about the SafeCare program – Parenting 101. It featured CareSouth’s Brighter Futures Caseworker Brittanii Carr delivering the SafeCare Program to a young mother. Watch Parenting 101 to see how a helping hand can make a world of difference.

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