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Vulnerable families across Victoria now have even greater access to supports, Minister for Community Services Lisa Neville announced today.

Ms Neville joined representatives of MacKillop Family Services and senior Department of Human Services staff in Footscray today to announce the successful rollout of Stage 2 of the Child Family Information, Referral and Support Team (Child FIRST) teams.

“It can sometimes be challenging for families to find the services they need and even professionals, such as teachers and health workers or police and families may not know what support services are available locally,” Ms Neville said

Child FIRST means vulnerable families have earlier, more intensive support to address their problems before they escalate and require child protection involvement.

“The Child FIRST referral service is part of a $53.5 million Brumby Government commitment to improve family services over 2007-2008, part of our commitment to invest in the services that matter to Victorian families.

“There are now nine Child FIRST sites that are already up and running across Victoria, with another seven to be announced this financial year.”

Child FIRST teams will take referrals from concerned professionals and others, assess what the family needs and then link the family into the best available local services.

Help could include Maternal and Child Health services, childcare and preschool, mothers’ groups and parent support groups, school holiday programs, household management, as well as in home support and basic health and educational support for children, such as financial aid for clothes, books or household goods.

Ms Neville said the new service was proving popular, both with families and professionals.

“For example, over the September 2007 quarter, Child FIRST teams across Victoria received referrals relating to more than 1500 children from professionals, including teachers, maternal and child health nurses, hospital social workers and mental health workers,” Ms Neville said.

Child FIRST teams are being established as part of the new Children, Youth and Families Act, the result of the first overhaul of child protection laws in a generation.

“By 2009, 24 Child FIRST teams will be operating across Victoria, to work with families and ensure the wellbeing of children who may be at risk.”

Child FIRST teams are currently operating across Victoria, including metropolitan Melbourne, Barwon South-West, Greater Shepparton, Wimmera and Greater Grampians.

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Last Updated: 23 January 2008
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