2Q Relationship breakdown and re-partnering
How to grow a children’s contact service with limited resources
CatholicCare Wollongong has been operating the CatholicCare Children’s Contact Service (CCCS) since its conception in the early 1990s. CatholicCare Wollongong received a grant with Department of Social Services to trial this new concept that would enable separated families to stay connected with their children in a safe and neutral environment. Some 20 years later CCCS is still operating in three geographically dispersed sites across the Wollongong diocese incorporating Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Macarthur (NSW).
Best practice and self-regulation is paramount in the Children’s Contact industry as there are currently no government regulations monitoring these operations. CCCS is a strong advocate for improved regulations of the industry and is a willing supporter of providing quality services to families in line with the ‘Children’s Contact Service Guiding Principles Framework for Good Practice’ (AGD, May 2014) and The Australian Children’s Contact Services Association (ACCSA) ‘Standards and Code of Ethics’ (ACCSA website). Operating within these guidelines and framework has supported CCCS to develop strong policies and work practices which in turn has contributed to CCCS’s positive reputation as a preferred service and respected operator in the region by families and legal practitioners.
With an increased demand for Contact Services and very limited growth in funding, this has led to the increase of privately operated and unregulated services. CCCS acknowledges the need for growth however they must be safe and achieve quality outcomes for families. Thus, CCCS began a journey to work towards operating a trial of a ‘private’ self-funded service for supervised contact alongside the government subsidised service, working collaboratively with key stakeholders in 2014.
CCCS proposes a presentation of a snapshot of valuable information on how others can begin a self-funded service. We hope to provide an opportunity to learn from CCCS’s experience implementing a self-funded service looking at both the positive aspects as well as our challenges and lessons learned along the way.
In summary, CCCS has continually adapted and grown to meet the changing, complex demands of families using family law services. It is likely there will be significant increases in local populations in the near future and as such CCCS will continue to review all services in order to seek to better assist children and families to help ensure no one gets left behind and the best interests of children are always at the heart of decision making and service delivery.
Melissa Labor has been working for Children’s Contact Service in the Illawarra area for eleven years. She is passionate about making positive changes in children’s lives and is currently working towards completing her Bachelor of Social Work.
Maureen Gillett has been working for Children’s Contact Service for six years in the Campbelltown area. She is passionate about children’s rights and she has her degree in Psychology and Counselling