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Taken from:

Strong Families; Safe Children  Roadmap for Reform 

Issue 7 – October 2016

New ways of working with vulnerable kids

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Innovative models of care and support for vulnerable children and young people will be tested in Victoria’s south with an investment of more than $20 million.

The reform initiative is part of the Victorian Government’s ambitious plan to create better lives for vulnerable Victorian children, young people and their families outlined in the $168 million Roadmap for Reform policy.

The Roadmap aims to move Victoria’s child protection and family services system from a crisis response to prevention and early intervention.

The initiative in Victoria’s south will include nine activities, focused on:

  • $2.8 million to reduce the need for out-of-home care
  • $12.6 million to improve the experience of out-of-
    home care
  • $5.8 million to support young people to transition from out-of-home care.

The activities – many of which will be co-designed with community services organisations – will include:

  • testing internationally proven models of foster care for children and young people with more complex support needs. This includes the evidence-based Treatment Foster Care Oregon model with professionalised foster carers who, under the guidance of a team of practitioners, will work closely with children and young people in out-of-home care who experience significant emotional or behavioural problems. Families or long-
    term carers are also provided with weekly training 
    and support.
  • providing immediate support for families when a child is likely to enter out-of-home care, including a program
    that provides four to six week intensive interventions to help families de-escalate difficult situations with their children.  Building on the success of Targeted Care Packages, placement prevention packages will also fund supports for children and young people to help keep families together.
  • funding for Aboriginal and mainstream organisations to work with children and young people in kinship care who may be able to return to their families or primary carers, targeting an initial 32 children and young people, and their families.
  • designing and testing an intensive support response that will transform residential care into a trauma-informed model for children and young people with complex needs and behaviours.
  • keeping Aboriginal children and young people connected to culture with a Return to Country program that is co-designed with Aboriginal organisations.
  • implementing a Mentoring, Learning and Support program for young people in out-of-home care, with flexible support for young people from 16 or 17 years
    of age to develop life and living skills for later independence.

Breaking new ground in foster care

The Victorian Government recently announced $5.6 million to trial a new model of foster care with the potential to transform the way vulnerable children and young people are supported.

The internationally proven model uses professionalised foster carers to provide intensive support for children and young people who experience significant emotional or behavioural problems.

Professionalised foster carers will work with at least 28 children over two years, helping them to transition from – or avoid entering – residential care.

Carers provide full-time care for each child or young person, under the guidance of a team of practitioners to stabilise their behaviour and outlook. Families or long-term carers are provided with weekly training and support.

Treatment Foster Care Oregon is an evidence-based model, with foster carers taking on a role as primary professional carer to help children and young people experiencing significant emotional or behavioural problems.

OzChild and Anglicare Victoria, in partnership with VACCA, will recruit and train carers to deliver the specialised Treatment Foster Care Oregon model in the Bayside Peninsula and Southern Melbourne areas.

OzChild and Anglicare Victoria will create at least 14 new, professionalised foster care placements a year, with OzChild to focus on children aged 7–11 years and Anglicare working with young people aged 12–18 years.

The specialised carers will provide intensive support, complementing the essential work of volunteer foster carers
by preparing children to return to their placements, or their families. The model has been successful in New York, significantly reducing the number of children and young people in residential care.

The model was recently featured in The Age and on ABC Radio’s Drive program with Raf Epstein.

Victoria State Goverment, Health and Human Services


AV_LOGO_full_colour   OzChildLog-227

Vulnerable children and young people will be able to access an internationally renowned treatment program to move from or avoid residential placements, and live in family based care.

With the support of the Victorian Government, Lisa J Griffiths, CEO of OzChild and Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria announce the introduction of a transformational, evidence based program to the Victorian child welfare system –  Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO®).

TFCO is an intensive short term program that works with young people, carers and a dedicated professional support team to prevent or remove children and young people from residential care.

Ms. Griffiths said “Children and young people do best when in family, or family-like placements, however at present, there are few options beyond residential care for these young people when foster, kinship or birth family placements break down”.

McDonald said “This is a revolutionary program, we expect that 75% of the children and young people who complete the program will either be reunited with their birth family, if safe to do so, or reach their full potential with a loving kin, kith or foster care family”.

TFCO is an empirically proven therapeutic foster care model alternative to residential care placements. It is delivered by a team of specialists who support the treatment foster carer and the young person with practical behavior based interventions which are designed to enable longer term stability for the young person.

There is a focus on skills training, therapy and academic support for the young person, and support and training for the after care family to support long term stability. It is based around four structured elements of treatment including, consistent reinforcement, structured living environment, close supervision, establishing positive social relationships.

TFCO will be launched in the Southern Melbourne region in April 2017 in partnership between OzChild and Anglicare Victoria. OzChild will support children aged 7-11 and Anglicare Victoria support young people aged 12-17.

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) is also a partner in the program to help ensure that vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are connected to culture and safe.

The TFCO program has been implemented around the world, including in the USA, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand.

For media enquiries contact Julie-Anne Davies, Anglicare 0413 583 919 or Fin Bird, OzChild 0439 388 251.

 

Breaking New Ground In Foster Care

Minister for Families and Children

6 October 2016

A new model of foster care with the potential to transform the way vulnerable children and young people are supported is to be trialled by the Andrews Labor Government.

The internationally proven model uses professionalised foster carers to provide intensive support for children and young people who experience significant emotional or behavioural problems.

The Labor Government is investing $5.6 million in the trial, as it transforms the state’s child protection and family services system.

Professionalised foster carers would work with at least 28 children over two years, helping them to transition from – or avoid entering – residential care.

Carers provide full-time care for each child or young person, under the guidance of a team of practitioners to stabilise their behaviour. Families and long-term carers are provided with weekly training and support.

Treatment Foster Care Oregon is an evidence-based model, with foster carers taking on a role as primary professional carer to help children and young people experiencing significant emotional or behavioural problems.

The Labor Government has committed $168 million as part of its ground-breaking Roadmap for Reform policy, with more than $20 million for nine specific initiatives that will be tested in southern Victoria.

OzChild and Anglicare Victoria will recruit and train carers to deliver the specialised Treatment Foster Care Oregon model in the Bayside Peninsula and Southern Melbourne areas.

OzChild and Anglicare Victoria will create at least 14 new, professionalised foster care placements a year, with OzChild to focus on children aged 7-11 years and Anglicare working with young people aged 12-18 years.

The specialised carers will provide intensive support, complementing the essential work of volunteer foster carers by preparing children to return to their placements, or their families. The model has been successful in New York, significantly reducing the number of children and young people in residential care.

Quotes Attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“With the support of Anglicare Victoria and OzChild, the Treatment Foster Care Oregon model has the potential to completely transform the way we support vulnerable children and young people, with life-changing impact.”

“Nothing is more important than helping our vulnerable children, and professional foster carers will help complement the work of thousands of volunteer foster, kinship and permanent carers across Victoria.”

Quote Attributable to Anglicare Victoria Chief Executive Officer Paul McDonald

“Through this revolutionary program, we expect the majority of children and young people to be reunited with their families, where safe, or reach their full potential with loving kinship or foster care families.”

Quote Attributable to OzChild Chief Executive Officer Lisa J. Griffiths

“Children and young people do best when in family, or family-like placements, however at present, there are few options beyond residential care for these young people when foster, kinship or family placements break down.”

 

‘Give us a family’: professional foster carers to care for most vulnerable kids

Miki Perkins

When the call comes, often late at night, foster carer Vicci Henderson always reminds the social worker to pack nappies and bottles.

Make sure the kids are rugged up warm against the cold air, she says. Not just pyjamas, a dressing gown as well.

And when children arrive – anyone from a young baby to five siblings – Vicci knows they will be anxious, and very hungry. Food, warmth and reassurance are a start. But some of these children will need much more.

For the first time in Australia, Victoria will trial the use of “professional” foster carers to support some of the most traumatised children in the state’s out-of-home care system.

In a bid to reduce the number of young people in residential care, professional foster carers will look after a young person full time in their home for around nine months.

They will get intensive backing from the agencies taking part in the trial; OzChild, Anglicare Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency. This will include daily phone calls, case workers, and weekly training on dealing with trauma or behavioural issues.

The agencies will also work with the families of the young person to prepare them for the child’s return home (if it is safe and in the child’s best interest).

Over the next two years, about 14 professional foster carers will work with 28 young people in the $5.6 million trial in Melbourne’s south-east. If the approach is successful it will be broadened, says Jenny Mikakos, the Minister for Families, Children and Youth Affairs.

The trial is based on a model that began 30 years ago in Oregon, in the US, and is now used successfully in the UK and Europe.

“At the moment we have young people who are in residential care for years, and that’s unacceptable in my view,” Ms Mikakos says. “I have spoken to many young people and they all say ‘Give us a family, don’t give us a system’.”

Children do best in family-like placements but when these break down there are few options aside from residential care, says Lisa Griffith, the head of OzChild. “Professional foster care has the potential to completely change the way we support vulnerable children.” 

The state faces a chronic shortage of foster carers, and launched a major recruitment push earlier this year. 

Victoria’s Foster Care Association of Victoria has welcomed the trial, with head Leigh Hillman saying she hopes it will help carers who assume the long-term care of children after their time with a professional carer. 

But the association will keep pushing for an $88-per-week boost to the allowances for ordinary foster carers so that they can meet day-to-day costs, she said. 

Professional carers will get a greater allowance, about $65,000 a year, to reflect the high expectations of their role and training. They do not get housing assistance. Currently, the highest allowance for foster carers who look after the most complex young people is about $40,000.

With the state’s residential care system long-plagued by reports of serious physical and sexual exploitation, last year Mikakos announced $43 million to move vulnerable children out of residential care into foster care, or back with their families.

Since then, 235 kids have left residential care for home-based care.

Deft, experienced carers like Vicci will be recruited to the trial. A grandmother and former childcare business owner, Vicci is currently the carer for a 10-year old girl.

In her early days as a carer she was shocked to discover how much troubled children in out-of-home care were moved around: “They just can’t find a place where they fit.” 

With a consistent, calm routine and proper health treatment, her 10-year-old’s behaviour has improved dramatically.

In late 2014 there were 7500 young Victorians living in out of home care, with about 500 of those (6.3 per cent) in residential care. In August this year there were 8800 in out-of-home care and about 430 (4.9 per cent) in residential care.

 

 

EPIC logo with text-02

The European Platform for Investing in Children” has listed TFCO-A as a Promising  Practice.  

March 2016

The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) is an evidence-based online platform which was launched in 2013.  EPIC aims to provide information about policies, programmes or practices that can help children and their families meet the challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe.

Operated by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) Web site features summaries of practices that are proven to improve outcomes for children. To be categorized as “promising” by EPIC, a practice’s research evidence must meet certain criteria:

(1) The practice has achieved + in “evidence of effectiveness” as the evaluation utilizes at the minimum pre/post design with appropriate statistical adjustments employed in order to control for selection, the sample size is at least 20 in each group and significant positive results (p<0.1) are shown from at least one relevant outcome.

(2) The practice is “transferable” and has been evaluation in at least one additional population beyond the original study population or has been marked as having “enduring impact” as an evaluation of the practice which meets the basic criteria for inclusion has conducted a follow-up of at least two years and find at least one positive outcome (p<0.1).

Visit the European Platform for Investing in Children website at: http://europa.eu/epic/

 

Teen Foster Care Program Reduces Drug Use in Early Adulthood

http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2015/09/teen-foster-care-program-reduces-drug-use-in-early-adulthood

September 18, 2015

Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) (now named Treatment Foster Care Oregon or TFCO) has demonstrated advantages over group residential placement for teen girls who are mandated to out-of-home care by the juvenile justice system (see Program Reduces Girls’ Delinquent Behavior). New findings from a follow-up to a NIDA-supported trial indicate that those benefits extend to a reduction in illegal drug use in young adulthood.

Researchers re-contacted 153 young women who as teenagers had participated in a randomized controlled trial of TFCO in the State of Oregon. In the trial, half of the girls had been placed into TFCO at 22 state-supervised homes with highly trained foster parents, and half had been assigned to 35 community-based programs, consisting mostly of group-care facilities. The girls were 13 to 17 years old when placed, and spent roughly 5 to 6 months, on average, in their placements. In interviews that were scheduled every 6 months during a 2-year period that began 7 to 9 years after the start of the trial, women reported on their own and their romantic partners’ use of illegal drugs, excluding marijuana, over the past 6 months.

 

 

The women who had been placed in TFCO and those who had been in group care both reported low levels of drug use, ranging between “never” and “once or twice.” However, those who had been in TFCO reported declining drug use over the course of the five assessments, while those who had been in group care reported stable drug use (see Figure). TFCO exerted small to medium beneficial effects both on the change in drug use over the 2-year period (effect size of 0.39) and on the use at the final follow-up (effect size of 0.45).

Dr. Kimberly Rhoades, of the University of Oregon and Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC), says that the trajectory of drug use reported by the women in the TFCO group conforms to the norm for the general population, in which use tends to rise in adolescence, peak at ages 18 to 20, and then fall.

Dr. Rhoades says, “We saw a normative decline of drug use in the young women who had been in TFCO. Their use therefore more closely resembled what you would expect to see in a community population with lower to average risk for drug use.” She adds that TFCO may provide teenagers with the tools to make healthy decisions when they reach young adulthood.

“In a high-risk group of adolescent girls, the intensive intervention provided by TFCO can mitigate some of the risk for drug use in the young adult period,” concludes Dr. Rhoades, who conducted the study with colleagues at OSLC and the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

The TFCO program places teens in homes with foster parents who are trained to use positive reinforcement and encouragement. The program provides intensive supervision and guidance, including:

  • Daily phone calls to foster parents to monitor the girls’ progress
  • Weekly group meetings for the foster parents
  • Daily in-home behavior management program for the girls
  • Regular monitoring of the girls’ school attendance, performance, and homework completion
  • Family therapy for the aftercare placement family (usually the biological family) focused on parent management strategies

The teenagers typically continue to attend their local high school, and TFCO teaches them to understand expectations and consequences, manage their emotions, and develop refusal skills to avoid high-risk behaviors, including drug use and risky sexual activity.

This study was supported by NIH grants DA015208, DA024672, and DA023920.

Source:

Rhoades, K.A.; Leve, L.D.; Harold, G.T. et al. Drug use trajectories after a randomized controlled trial of MTFC: Associations with partner drug use. Journal of Research on Adolescence 24(1):40-54, 2014. Full text

 

The Arnold Foundation is sponsoring a major effort to advance evidence-based practices that address major US social problems.  The Move-the Needle effort aims to provide a competition and funding opportunity for the establishment of evidence-based practices.  The announcement names TFCO as an example of social interventions with credible evidence of large, sustained success.

Check out the link to the announcement!  Can this be an opportunity for your community?

Arnold Foundation: Moving the Needle

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