All families need support to meet their own and their children’s needs. Some families need a family support service when they are experiencing difficulties that make them more vulnerable, and impact on their parenting and family life. Child FIRST and family services are funded by the Department of Human Services to provide support and assistance to vulnerable children, young people and their families where there are concerns about the wellbeing of the child or young person.
Child FIRST (Child and Family Information, Referral and Support Teams) have been established across Victoria to provide an entry point into family services or other support services for vulnerable children and families.
A referral to Child FIRST may be the best way of connecting vulnerable children, young people and their families to the services they need to protect and promote their healthy development.
Families requiring support from family services generally have a range of needs which can affect a child’s development if the right supports are not provided. Significant concerns about the child’s wellbeing and development are highlighted by how often issues are occurring, how serious the issues are and, most importantly, how the issues are affecting the child’s development.
A matter should be referred to Child FIRST if it involves:
- significant parenting problems that may be affecting the child’s development
- serious family conflict, including family breakdown
- families under pressure due to a family member’s physical or mental illness, substance abuse, disability or bereavement
- young, isolated and/or unsupported families
- significant social or economic disadvantage that may adversely impact on a child’s care or development.
Anyone with a concern for a child or family can make a referral to Child FIRST. Referrals can be made for vulnerable children, young people (0–17 years) and their families, including families with an unborn child.
Contact details for family services across Victoria, which can be used to refer vulnerable children and their families to services they need or report child abuse, are provided in the link below:
- Child and family services information, referral and support teams
Contact details for family services in different regions of Victoria, which can be used to report child abuse, or to refer vulnerable children and their families to services they need.