Intensive support programme to keep vulnerable children together with their families
As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen family-based care and community support for vulnerable children, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will launch the Safe and Strong Families (SSF) pilot programme in the community by December 2016. For a start, the pilot will reach out to 400 eligible families and vulnerable children over three years.
The most ideal environment for children to grow is in their own home, with their families. To strengthen the family and preserve parent-child relationships, the SSF pilot programme will offer two services: family preservation service and family reunification service. Through the family preservation service, children who are at risk of being removed from their families because of safety concerns will be provided with intensive support so that they can remain in their families. For children who have been placed in foster or residential care, the family reunification service will enable them to return to their families.
While some community agencies currently provide preservation and reunification services, the SSF pilot aims to enable more intensive and targeted intervention for vulnerable families and their children. MSF will also introduce an evidence based therapeutic programme, called Functional Family Therapy, to help families with more complex psychological issues.
Case managers and therapists on the SSF pilot will provide families with counselling and coaching on parenting skills, as well as connect them to community resources. SSF case managers will also provide home-based intervention about one to three times a week according to the needs of the families. Where necessary, the families will also continue to receive support in the community after the intervention by the SSF team ends. Annex A contains more details of the pilot programme.
The Safe and Strong Families (SSF) Pilot programme consists two types of services: family preservation and family reunification services.
The SSF pilot is grounded in the belief that families are the most ideal environment for children to grow in. Children can be safe within their own homes when their caregivers are provided with suitable skills and support to improve their overall parenting capacity and family functioning.
SSF case managers and therapists will be supported with regular supervision and training so that they are able to work effectively with families to address various complex risk issues.
The key features of the SSF Pilot are:
a) Intensive, home-based service
The SSF case managers will provide in-home intervention at least once a week, and this frequency can increase to three times a week depending on the needs of the families. Providing in-home services will allow the case managers to better understand the needs and strengths of the families in their natural environment, and thus be better able to provide more relevant intervention. MSF will also introduce an evidence-based therapeutic programme, called Functional Family Therapy. This will help families better address their complex psychological issues.
b) Duration of service
The duration of family preservation service is 6 months, while family reunification service is for 12 months.
c) Targeted, phased intervention
All families will go through targeted intervention in phases to ensure that key goals of ensuring safety, creating and sustaining behaviour change can be achieved. Generally, the first phase of intervention will address issues related to the safe care of the child. The subsequent phases will address issues related to creating behavioural change and sustaining the positive changes in the caregiving, so that children can continue to remain safe in the families, even after the SSF intervention has ended. Where necessary, the families will also continue to receive support in the community after the intervention by the SSF team ends.