Better lives and better futures
A proven, community-based approach to creating radically better futures for at-risk children and their families.
Child protection is a national issue.
We all know that child safety is a national problem. The facts are stark. Right now, more than 170,000 children1 are in contact with the child protection system somewhere in Australia and, for 68% of those children, this is not their first contact with the system.
Around Australia, governments are struggling to cope with a rise in reports of child abuse – up 7.3 % in the past 12 months. We need to change the way we protect and care for vulnerable children and at-risk families – nationally.
We need to intervene earlier, and differently, to build family capacity and prevent abuse before it occurs. Flourish – a different approach Children are at their greatest developmental vulnerability at a time when they have the least capacity to influence their trajectory in life. Children under 6 years of age are most at risk, with children under 1 year most likely to be the victim of child abuse (16.1 per 1,000), followed by children aged 1–4 years (9.0 per 1,000 children).
If we are to protect children and deliver better outcomes, we need to work with them and their families intensively and early. Flourish will achieve this goal, providing a practical approach to keeping vulnerable children safe and at the same time creating the foundations for lifelong benefits.
Based on a proven approach used in other locations, Flourish will provide a new space for intervention and enrichment for at-risk children – sitting between at-home care and out-of home placement.
Flourish will protect children, break the cycle of abuse, and give them and their families better lives and better futures. It’s an innovative intervention model that can be promoted through this flagship project and then replicated in other Australian neighbourhoods, cities and states.
- An enriched care giving and early education model for vulnerable babies and children whose normal home environment fails to meet their developmental needs.
- A safe, supportive care and learning environment in a long daycare setting, offering care up to 7 days a week.
- A focus on engaging parents and supporting them to build their parenting skills, improve their family environment, and contribute to the developmental
needs of their children.
- Individual therapeutic intervention and support focusing on the needs of each child and their family.
- A community hub offering wellbeing services and support (eg immunisation, parenting skills, training and employment services, drug and alcohol and mental health services).
- Community connections for at-risk families to combat social exclusion and isolation and support positive transitions to kindergartens, playgroups and mainstream schooling.
- A safe space for women in DV refuges, providing stability for their children.
We plan to develop Flourish in a community that we know well, where we see acute need, on Brisbane’s northside.
Communify is already delivering a range of services to this community and will develop Flourish as part of an integrated service model, providing a community hub for at-risk children and their families.
We will focus on families in the Zillmere, Taigum, Keperra and surrounding areas and develop the facility within easy reach of these families.
We will collaborate with local agencies and specialist services to ensure that children’s wellbeing, educational, behavioural, developmental and health needs are addressed and supported.
We will also ensure that families are well linked for immediate and ongoing supports to address presenting challenges in areas related to domestic violence, lifestyle, addiction, income, housing and physical or mental health issues.
The environment of the Flourish centre must nurture children and their families, connect to community, and enrich the lives of children and their educators.
It must also create a sense of belonging, engage the senses, invite physical play, and provoke curiosity and intellectual engagement. To deliver long daycare and a community hub, the Flourish centre must have a commercial kitchen, a place for overnight stays, a place to do bedtime routines and a place for supporting parents.
We will need not only places of intellectual stimulation and connection but also places of retreat and calm, for counselling and support.
A ‘cookie cutter’ approach to this centre will not work; it needs to be a highly bespoke design. There are Indigenous and multicultural families in our pilot project community and we will co-design with these families to create a place that welcomes all.
Communify – experienced in community care
Communify has been providing services to vulnerable families in Brisbane for over 40 years. We have witnessed the shortcomings and failures of the current child protection system and the long-term impacts of these on children and their families.
We are established and trusted providers of childcare, intensive family support, mental health, drug and alcohol and homelessness support services, and understand the families we work with and their challenges and needs.
Being part of the day-to-day lives of these vulnerable children has convinced us that urgent action is required to protect and support them. The system is failing, and we need new interventions and new approaches for these vulnerable children.
In 2017, the economic impact of the Abecedarian project and other similar intensive early intervention projects in USA was analysed.
The research showed that high-quality birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13% per year return on investment, a rate substantially higher than the 7 – 10% return previously established for preschool programs serving 3- to 4-year-olds.
Flourish delivery area