Making a Safe Home (MaSH)

About the Entry

‘MaSH’ is an “in-home” care program, an alternative to bringing children into care or enabling them to return home rather than staying in care. It balances practical home support with parents accepting accountability for areas of parenting improvement/development, where families help to design their goals, actions, and the service supports needed.

Features & Benefits

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Using a Co-Design process ensured families’ needs were always central

• By keeping the experience of children and families central, the multi-agency co-design team kept its intent focused on delivering for the good of the child, and whenever safely possible that they remain with their families.

• All design work centred on being “in the shoes” of children and families. Deep insights were gleaned from direct work with children and families, as well as from service providers, agencies and case workers.

• The co-design team was made up of representatives from FACS as well as partners from key departments and non-governmental organisations—representing almost the entire delivery ecosystem. This depth of co-design had never been achieved prior to this overall program of work.

Program is currently live and proving successful

• Nine families have been accepted into MaSH since it began last year. Seven families are currently receiving services and children who would otherwise have almost certainly been removed and put into Out of Home Care are being kept safe at home by their parent/s.

• In the remaining cases, it has not been possible to maintain a level of safety for the child/ren to remain at home and they have entered the care system. However, in each case there has been a greater acceptance by the family of FACS’ decision to initiate care proceedings in the Children’s Court.

• The personal growth and development of some parents who have engaged in MaSH has been inspiring, for themselves and those working to support them.

Program leads to financial saving for FACS and the community

• Western Sydney Uni report “Cornerstones for Client‐centred Economic Evaluations: The Making a Safe Home (MaSH) Program” has shown that MaSH leads not only to financial savings for FACS, but also the interventions are projected to lead to long‐term savings for the public purse, along with better social, educational and health‐related outcomes for children and families.

• The report highlights the benefits of supporting families to embed long term change rather than providing services that are short term in their approach. Too often families who are not supported for long enough to sustain change, continue to experience significant difficulties which impact on their ability to keep their children safe.

Innovating bespoke solutions through inclusive co-design process

• The program is highly innovative in that it was designed in partnership with families, representatives from all human services agencies in the District, representatives from both State and Federal governments, non-government service providers as well as Legal Aid and the Children’s Court. Services are bespoke, highly integrated and holistic and suit each families individual needs.

Families, agencies, and communities are all benefiting

• Some parents acknowledge for the first time in their experience with FACS they feel a more balanced working relationship and genuinely supported to address issues of concern.
 
• Agencies benefit from being able to partner with families long enough to effect and sustain change, not just address short term crises. MaSH enables agencies to collaboratively tailor their services to address the specific underlying needs of families.

• Significant long-term community benefit can be found in building and sustaining change in high risk families and preventing children entering care. Children provided with safety and stability by parents are less likely to develop problems which will later impact the community.

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Making a Safe Home (MaSH)