Family and parenting support
Victoria has a child protection system designed to place the best interests of children at the heart of all decision making.
The Cradle to Kinder program
The Cradle to Kinder program is an intensive ante and post natal support service to provide longer term, intensive family and early parenting support for vulnerable young mothers and their families, commencing in pregnancy and continuing until the child reaches four years of age.
Further information about the program including the locations of the programs can be found in the Cradle to Kinder information sheet.
The family services program (including Child FIRST) is delivered by registered community service organisations across Victoria. The policy and program guidelines support the planning and delivery of quality services across the integrated child and family services system.
Making a referral
Professional people involved with vulnerable children and young people aged 0 to 17 years and their families, including families with an unborn child, may from time to time consider reporting or referring a concern to either Child Protection or the Child FIRST intake service.
When to refer to Child FIRST
This may be the best way of connecting children, young people and their families to the services they need, where families show any of the factors that may affect a child’s safety, stability or development.
When to make a report to Child Protection
A report to Child Protection should be made under circumstances such as physical abuse or non-accidental injury to a child, a disclosure of sexual abuse by a child or witness, emotional abuse and ill treatment of a child, affecting the child's stability and healthy development.
Early parenting support
Early parenting services provide support to parents from pregnancy to when their child is four years old. A range of specialist support, counseling and advice services aim to support parents who need more support to care for their infant or toddler. This may include an intensive education and skills development program.
Early parenting centres such as Mercy Health O’Connell Family Centre, Queen Elizabeth Centre, Tweddle Child and Family Health Service provide day stay, residential, home-based and group services.