At NCNS, a large proportion of our work is casework for vulnerable children, young people and families. We are fortunate to have created partnerships with Wesley Mission and Bridging the Gap to be able to provide our casework services to more people, and we have a fantastic, dedicated team of caseworkers that put everything they have into making lives better.
When an individual or a family are referred to the casework team, they usually present with a varied set of complex problems. Our goal? To see measurably healthier, happier, and better functioning families and individuals. We want to see our clients empowered, independent, and able to manage their lives in a healthy way.
How do we accomplish this? The first step is to engage the family or client and build trust. This can be made difficult, as we are sometimes required to respond to specific child protection concerns at the same time. Over a period of time, we get to know the family and gain a greater understanding of their issues.
The next step is to map out with our clients what their needs are and how we might support them to achieve the outcomes they want using a positive framework. We begin work based on the case plan with the client, regularly reviewing the goals and dealing with any arising issues along the way. Of course, crisis may pop up at any time, and caseworkers have to shift their priority at a moment’s notice.
This work is difficult. Our clients have extremely complex personal, generational and cultural barriers and often a distrust of outside involvement, especially child protection involvement. Many are indigenous, and given the country’s history surrounding governmental responses and attitudes to Aboriginal children and cultures, who could blame them?
The issues themselves are wide and varied – difficulties in family dynamics, homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, parenting capacity, risky teenagers, youth development, child protection, health and education are just some of the issues we are targeting.
Beyond this, many of our clients struggle to manage their life circumstances due to the level and complexity of their problems, and all of this combines to present a plethora of challenges for case workers.
And yet, our caseworkers are tireless, compassionate, and committed to working to achieve their goals. Any reduction in the level of further reporting to FaCS, and families no longer being on the statutory child protection radar are indicators that their hard work is paying off. While these are often measured in small increments from our perspective, to those families, these are huge steps towards having a better life.