Working with agencies
Working with Agencies
Information you connect with and work with agencies effectively
“When you are acting on high emotions, it’s hard to be professional when the worker is being judgemental”
“I needed a support worker to say “this is what you need to do”.. get into counselling services and have a point of contact to talk on your behalf to the Department, because when you are in that state of heightened emotions it can be really hard to be professional with the Department”
In NSW, Family and Community Services (FACS) and various Non Government Organisations (NGOs) provide care for children and young people and recruit, train and support foster carers. They are called Out of Home Care (OOHC) agencies.
Links to OOHC Agencies located in the Hunter are listed at the end of this page.
OOHC agencies are responsible for looking after your children and making sure they are safe while they are not living with you.They should communicate respectfully and openly with you and seek your views and opinions.
Carers are authorised under legislation to provide short or long term care
They could be relatives of yours or they could be independent of your family. There are standards that agencies are expected to meet. These standards state that carers are expected to work with family and should be trained and supported to do this. It is part of the foster carers role to support ongoing family relationships for children in their care.
Your child will have a caseworker, (who may be called a case manager or social worker depending on the agency). It is important for your child and for you that you know the caseworker. Agencies should give you the opportunity to meet the caseworker and discuss your child’s well being. You have important information to help them care for your child properly and they also need to share information with you.
Agencies must by law provide parents with information about the progress of your child in care and the placement For example:
How they are doing at school or child care. They might do this by sending you school reports.
Letting you know about any medical or health problems. This includes injuries or new medications.
Other things such as what activities your child is involved in.
Information about the placement. As a minimum parents should receive basic information such as the kind of house they live in, what they do for hobbies and fun, their employment, religion and cultural background and who else lives in the household.
You should know as much as possible about how your children are going and who is caring for them while they are not with you. If you don’t think you have enough information ask the agency for more details. if they are unwilling to share more information then ask for the reasons.
In our experience some agencies and caseworkers do find it difficult to be inclusive and respectful of parents and family. It can be challenging to stay respectful and calm yourself when this happens. If you feel able you could try telling the caseworker about this website to help them understand why family inclusion and respectful inclusive relationships are good for kids.
Many parents have found it helpful to work towards a “business like” relationship with the caseworker. This means you communicate openly and honestly when you need to about the things you need to. The caseworker may not be your best friend but you are entitled to be treated with respect.
Keep a record of all your interactions with the agency including meetings, emails and phone calls. Keeping a note book or journal can also assist. Make sure you keep a record of what information and ideas you give to them as well as what you get from them.
If you are in a meeting or phone call and you feel overwhelmed including if you feel very angry, end the meeting and try again later when you feel better.
Consider having a support person and /or an advocate (a friend, a worker or someone else you trust) with you for meetings and interactions. Especially if you feel like you might become overwhelmed by your emotions. It is OK to have a support person and for them to speak on your behalf. Choose this person carefully as they need to remain calm as well.
OOHC Agencies in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast:
Provides programs for individuals and families by incorporating Foster Care, Disability Services, Community Care, Youth, Family & Relationships, Mental Health, Refugee Support.
Provides residential therapeutic care for children and young people who usually have experienced complex and trans-generational trauma, multiple family and placement breakdowns, and are disengaged from their communities and social institutions.
Provide support children, young people and families, people with disability, older people and people with mental illness. Additionally, work with people who are homeless and refugees and asylum seekers.
Provides specialist services to children and their families for Family & Community Services, Non Government Agencies , Family Law Court Matters and Private Family Agreements.
“There’s only one agency that lets me be part of the case plan… I know I have a right to be involved but I have had to fight for it”