Vulnerable children and parents will benefit from improved early intervention support under a new program designed to provide practical assistance to families with the aim of preventing issues from escalating.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Family Connect and Support program would bolster early intervention services available to children and families across NSW.

“By intervening earlier when issues arise we can address their underlying causes and reduce the risk of further harm and keep families safely together,” Mr Ward said.

“Family Connect and Support provides a single point of contact with which families can engage, offering a range of practical assistance, advice and information that can help them break the cycle of disadvantage and provide a safe home for children.”

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The new program streamlines existing services and support with the aim helping families to build better relationships, improve general health and wellbeing, and live independently in secure housing.

It builds on features of the Family Referral Service and has been enhanced to include Family Group Conferencing, increased outreach to schools and hospitals, and a focus on Aboriginal families, families with children aged zero to five, and children and young people affected by mental illness.

Nine non-government providers will deliver the program, including:

· Uniting NSW.ACT – Western NSW and Far West;
· Uniting NSW ACT in partnership with South Western Sydney Local Health District – South Western Sydney;
· Save the Children Australia – Murrumbidgee;
· South Coast Medical Services Aboriginal Corporation – Illawarra Shoalhaven;
· The Benevolent Society – Hunter, Central Coast and New England;
· Barnardos – Western Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, Sydney and South East Sydney;
· Barnardos in partnership with CatholicCare – Northern Sydney;
· Social Futures – Northern NSW;
· Social Futures in partnership with Pathfinders – Mid North Coast; and,
· Mackillop Family Services in partnership with Marymead – Southern NSW.

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Family Connect and Support aligns with the NSW Government’s commitment to reduce the number of children and young people entering out-of-home care.