Early Intervention: a regional perspective


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(Diversity) This workshop was facilitated by Jessica Toole, Tamworth Youth Care.

With early intervention and prevention being approaches to ending youth homelessness proving the most apt at ensuring young people do not become entrenched in a life of homelessness and marginalisation, Tamworth Youth Care has implemented at Early Intervention and Prevention program which focuses solely on working with young people at risk of or who have recently fallen into homelessness. This presentation covers the aims and design of the program which operates in a regional area of NSW.

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Early Intervention: a regional perspective

  1. 1. TYC Background TYC was established in 1983 as a non-profit, community based organisation, whose aims include improving therange of accommodation options for Young People who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the Tamworth region as well as Gunnedah. In the first few years, Tamworth Youth Care operated as aYouth Refuge, providing Crisis Accommodation and Support. As the need for diverse accommodation options for Young People increased, Tamworth Youth Care expanded its services to provide various accommodation options and outreach services for Young People who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, including Crisis Short Term Accommodation at the Refuge, Medium to Long TermSupported Accommodation and Outreach Service to Clientsin the community to enable them to achieve independence or remain living with their families.
  2. 2. Establishing DemandOver a number of years it began to become quite clear that there was a need for Early intervention/Prevention. TYC would receive calls and referrals relating to young peopledisplaying challenging behaviours which we thought quite normal , however because of other marriage, family, financial & AOD issues parents were not able to cope. This resulted quite often in the young person coming into the refuge. At times TYC was at capacity with clients that were not necessarily our primary homeless clients and this took away our time to work with our primary target group. We also found that young people leaving the refuge withoutsupport, either back into their homes or into transitional housing were also having difficulties. Which often led to young people returning to crisis care.
  3. 3. EarlyIntervention/Prevention Early Intervention to our service and client group relates to three areas and focuses on early intervention/prevention of homelessness. First: Intervention assisting families from breakdown which would result in the young person becoming homeless. Secondly: supporting young people , their family, their carers &/or and other relevant people that may be involved with their accommodation – caravan park owners , boarding placements etc. Thirdly: supporting young people in transitional housing, rent, bill payment, electricity, noise & disturbance
  4. 4. . Aims and Objectives Aims: •To introduce a focused approach to prevention/early intervention. •To decrease clients need to enter crisis accommodation •To reduce family breakdowns •To relieve the pressure on refuge staff by reducing refuge client numbers Objectives: •Reduce family breakdown •Reduce client numbers in refuge •Healthier families. •Healthier staff .
  5. 5. Developing a ModelMost agency interventions with troubled families fit within standardized methods ofresponding to family conflict.These are individual counseling with either the young person or their carers,family therapy, mediation and/or mentoring aimed at supporting primarily theyoung person. What approach (if any) is taken is dependent on a few interlockingfactors such as1. The willingness of the young person and their family to engage with services andthe type of service they initially approach.2 The professional background and experience of the assessor3. The availability of services and the level of service that may be provided by theseservices both in terms of specialization or length of intervention and any waitingtimes that may be attached.
  6. 6. Service DeliveryWe needed to consider the target group and their families as to the level ofengagement we would desire. What ability did the families have to come to ouroffice, did they have the resources & motivation to attend appointments.After these considerations, we decided that phone contact would the mostappropriate method for both the clients and TYC, however they have the choice inwhich method suits them.This would alleviate most of the issues as well as allowing for contact to be whenand wherever the client was at that moment.As young people can often have difficulties speaking face to face to workers phonecontact was another way to break down barriers. The use of Facebook has alsobeen useful to allow young people to be open and honest.Clients /families are able to debrief with the EIP staff and allowing the clients totalk at length regarding their issues is one way of assisting them. Giving youngpeople and families simple but effective strategies to use is another.
  7. 7. Service DeliveryAt this level of training caseworkers cannot be expected to undertake rolesas professional family therapists or mediators yet at the same time EarlyIntervention process still needs to make a clearly defined contribution to thefamily.The model therefore will follow a short term casework approach that aims atidentifying and clarifying issues (assessment) and suggesting strategies forresolution (intervention and/or referral) when working with these families.Brief (up to 6 occasions) follow up would monitor the families use of thesuggested strategies are monitored as to their effectiveness. In best casescenarios where the issues are not too entrenched or severe this workersupport of the family may be sufficient in itself to resolve or manage the issuesand thereby prevent a further breakdown in the family.When strategies are ineffective or of only little help due to more complexemotional and social issues the worker could assist the family to identify thesebarriers and encourage them to seek more assistance. The caseworker wouldnot be expected in these instances to resolve these issues but would beexpected to outline a plan of action that the family might follow.
  8. 8. Barriers The main barriers that have been faced through this program are:• Lack of engagement once the crisis has subsided• Parents or young people not answering or rejecting their calls• Parents are expecting change straight away• Parents not being consistent with the strategies they are trying toimplement in the home.
  9. 9. Outcomes and Statistics Gender Males Females Since June 2010 we have had 67 clients enter the program, 19 of them male and 48 female. This seems pattern seems to be on the rise with more females entering the program than males.This in turn, has reduced the amount of young people utilizing the refuge. I believe thatas many as 50 of these clients would have ended up in the refuge. This has helped keep beds open for those who are in an actual homeless environment.
  10. 10. Outcomes and Statistics Referrals TYC - 18 Centrelink - 5 Police - 9 Young Person - 3 Relatives - 17 Womens Refuge - 4 Psychologist - 2 Mental Health - 3 School Counsellor - 6
  11. 11. DDD Locally recognised Youth Worker, Karen Matthews in 2010 made a major breakthrough in youth work when she diagnosed after many years of research a problematic parenting disorder.“DISCIPLINE DEFICIT DISORDER” Karen found if a parent suffers from this illness it can lead to behavioural problems in children. Issues such as bad attitudes, poorhygiene, lying, non-school attendance, absconding and in sever cases homelessness. Karen and her team at TYC are in the early stages of finding a cure, which should come in pill form. However they are not optimistic of this cure being available anytime soon.
  12. 12. THE END