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The safety and support network

Stability does not just come from external factors (like having a lease, or a job, or money). It comes from having a network of supportive relationships—from feeling secure in your place in the world and having a stable reference point from which to seek reassurance and support.

Strategies to engage young people and promote their participation must acknowledge the important role played by family and other important or significant relationships (for example, friends, friends’ parents and support personnel), community and culture. When  families and other significant people are identified as a protective factor, they should be engaged in transition processes to ensure their input into decision making.

Young people will be involved in identifying who is part of their safety and support network. The membership will change over time in line with the young person's changing needs and circumstances.

Ideally, this network will be built on natural supports in the family and community, as they are often the most enduring.

Who is in the network?

The safety and support network could be made up of:

  • the young person
  • carers (foster or kinship carers and/or residential care workers)
  • parents, siblings and other significant family members, to the extent that they are actively participating in the young person's care and support
  • case workers, non-government service providers and/or other support workers
  • an independent person (if the young person is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander)
  • the CSO
  • other government service providers (disability, education, employment, housing, health and others as relevant to the young person's needs)
  • any other person identified by the young person as significant, for example, their mentor..

Practice prompt

Use the Circles of Safety and Support Tool to help the young person identify people for their safety and support network

Role of safety and support networks

Safety

In terms of a young person’s safety, the network members:

  • know the harm that has already been experienced
  • know the worries and goals for the future
  • know the risk of future harm
  • are informed
  • are willing to help
  • are clear about what they must do to respond.

Transition planning

Transition planning should engage all members of the safety and support network, although this does not mean that everyone needs to gather in one place at one time. In most cases, large and intensive meetings are likely to be overwhelming for young people. 

Effective planning processes are generally anchored through one consistent support person (usually a CSO, care worker or carer) and the participation of other stakeholders is coordinated in a way that is safe and positive for the young person. 

As part of case management, the safety and support network will be responsible for:

  • providing their assessments or observations of the young person’s strengths and needs
  • planning to promote strengths and meet identified needs
  • coordinating services to ensure multiple services are directed at the same goal
  • implementing services, developing resources and contracting or brokering other services
  • monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes
  • providing advocacy.

Different network members will have the opportunity to provide specific input to parts of the plan.

Practice prompt

Ensure that foster and kinship carers are aware of the planning processes and are involved in the practicalities of developing life skills which are best learnt in the context of daily life. For example, carers can teach young people how to budget, prepare meals and discuss the future.

Many young people can be fully prepared and supported to transition to adulthood through these caring relationships, with little need for formal intervention or services.

Further reading

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