The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support (OCYFS) works in partnership with the community to provide care and protection services to children and young people, and family and community support to meet the needs of people in the ACT. OCYFS also operates a 40 bed youth detention centre, Bimberi, and supervises young people who have been placed on a court order.
OCYFS operates three Child and Family Centres in Gungahlin, West Belconnen and Tuggeranong. The Child and Family Centres provide members of the public with information, support and services based on the needs of children and their families. The Child and Family Centres have a strong emphasis on providing outreach services in homes, schools and the community.
OCYFS also operates the Child, Youth and family Services Program (CYFSP). The CYFSP is responsible for planning, research and the management of Service Funding Agreements for a range of community based services.
OCYFS provides funding to a number of non government agencies to provide both foster care services and residential care. Through these funding relationships it plays a pivotal role in establishing stable arrangements and care plans for children in care and for monitoring the overall quality of the care system.
Numbers of children, young people and families are compelled by court orders and by the statutory framework of the Children and Young People Act 2008 to engage with OCYFS. Many other children, young people and families choose to voluntarily engage with OCYFS to access its services which include Child and Family Centres. At all times OCYFS is committed to involving children and young people in a meaningful way in decision-making about their lives.
OCYFS is currently structured around the following branches:
- Statutory Services
- Early Intervention and Prevention Services
Update June 2014
Out of Home Care strategy 2015-2020
The Community Services Directorate is currently developing a five year Out of Home Care Strategy to guide the delivery of out of home care services from July 2015 – June 2020. The Strategy proposes a therapeutically oriented service system that provides a trauma related response to vulnerable children and young people.
The proposed Strategy is designed to focus on:
- Family preservation and reunification where this is in the best interests of the child
- Improved outcomes for children and young people in care and
- Wherever possible, exit children and young people from care into permanent alternative families on a timely basis.
The Strategy is based around the vision - Children and young people in care – growing up strong, safe and connected.
Trauma Recovery Centre
The ACT Government has committed to providing $3.05 million over four years to establish a Trauma Recovery Centre (TRC) to support children recovering from abuse and neglect. The focus of the TRC will be to provide a high quality trauma-informed therapeutic program to children aged 0-12 who have experienced abuse and neglect and who are current clients of Care and Protection Services. Work will be undertaken with children in the context of their care and support networks and will be trauma and attachment informed interventions.
The Trauma Recovery Centre will:
- Provide services aimed at facilitating healing, recovery and positive life outcomes for children and young people recovering from abuse and neglect
- Provide evidence informed intensive therapeutic services for children and young people who are clients of the statutory services
- Lead a trauma informed, collaborative and flexible approach to service delivery
- Enhance the capacity of the child’s support network and the wider service system to better meet their developmental needs.
As well as providing therapeutic interventions, a key focus of the TRC will be the provision of trauma specific training and education for carers and those working with children who have experienced abuse and neglect. It is anticipated that the Trauma Recovery Centre will be operational by July 2014.
Blueprint for Youth Justice
The Blueprint for Youth Justice in ACT 2012-22 was released in August 2012. The strategic direction for youth justice is set out in the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22. The Blueprint was developed by the Youth Justice Implementation Taskforce in consultation with youth justice stakeholders and the broader community.
The Blueprint has a focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion with custody used as a measure of last resort.
The vision that guides the Blueprint focuses on:
- keeping children and young people safe from harm
- building their resilience
- strengthening their connections with their families
- encouraging their participation in the wider community.
The Blueprint is supported by a three-year action plan containing 45 actions to be implemented through a whole of government, whole of community approach. The ACT Government has committed $5.5 million over four years to support the implementation of initiatives under the Blueprint.