Programs and Services

We have a wide range of support programs and services.

Placement and Support (Out of Home Care)

Foster Care

Volunteer, trained foster carers provide a home and family setting for children unable to live with their family due to child abuse and/or neglect. Care can be overnight emergencies through to long term over several years.

Therapeutic Foster Care–Circle Program

Specially trained and supported volunteer carers provide placements for children subject to child protection intervention. Children and carers receive intensive therapeutic support so as to give the children the best possible chance of healing from trauma.

Kinship Care

Children and young people are supported to reside with relatives (generally) or friends when they are unable to live with their parent/s due to child protection intervention. There are as many children in kinship care in Australia as there are in foster care.

Adoption and Permanent Care

Provides relinquishment counselling and organises adoptions per legislative requirements.

CAFS recruits, trains and matches permanent families for children who are deemed not to be reunited with their families of origin and subject to child protection intervention

Residential Care

Provide 24-hour skilled residential care to young people aged 12–18 years who require intensive support and supervision, and are not able to be placed in home-based care.

Leaving Care

Young people who were in care on their 16th birthday receive ongoing support post leaving care in order to assist them with housing and education/employment.

Provides housing assistance, and post-care support and mentoring.

Targeted Care Packages

Provision of case management services and supports to enable young people to exit residential care into a more suitable Out of Home Care placement or reunification with family.

YARN (Youth and Relationships Navigator)

Specialist trauma informed practitioners working under the guidance of a clinical psychologist to deliver therapeutic interventions to young people in Out of Home Care and on Targeted Care Packages.

Family and Early Childhood Services

Parenting Assessment and Skill Development Service (PASDS)

All referrals received from the child protection service.

Provide home-based or residential (five-day) assessment of parenting capacity and skill development where required and provide a report to the child protection service.

Service up to 12 weeks for home-based assessment.

Four nights and five days residential – 24 hours.

Day Stay

Provide sleeping settling /feeding/attachment clinic once a week on Friday – capacity to service two families per week with one-to-one care.

Follow-up phone contact to families one week later.

Access to Early Learning (AEL)

Provide in-home parenting support to parents with children who are eligible for three-year-old kindergarten. Children are placed into four-year-old kindergarten for 16 hours per week. AEL staff also provide educational support to teachers and deliver professional development sessions.

Transitions Program

Provide volunteer support to parents with children about to commence preps. The program runs in term 4 of each year plus one week in the January school holidays when a swimming program is run. The volunteers are usually retired teachers who provide home-based educational support to eligible families where indicated.

Family services pay for a coordinator one day per week for the duration of the program.

Growing Together

Intensive home-based support to families with a child up to school age where one or both parents have an intellectual disability/learning difficulty.

Early Childhood Development Program

Provides consultation and advice to the Family Services Alliance members to ensure that vulnerable families are able to access universal services.

The staff member also provides professional development/community education to a range of professionals in the community alongside Child FIRST and child protection services.

Parenting Group

Weekly (school term) parenting group for parents with an intellectual disability/learning difficulty who have children under the age of five years.

Families First

  • Families First works with families where children are assessed by child protection services as being at high risk of requiring placement out of their home
  • Families First also works with children in out-of-home placements who are to be reunited with their parents.

Family Services

With a client-centred, goal-focused approach, Family Services places a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and the development of children.  It works with families who are experiencing all manner of family difficulties.  Predominantly a case management service, Family Services has the ability to work with families in their own homes, as well as with other services throughout the professional network including child protection services, D&A, FV, Housing, Mental Health, MCHN, financial counselling to name a few.

Financial Counselling

Financial counselling provides the following services:

  • Generalist financial counselling
  • Emergency relief program (financial sustainability program funded by DSS)
  • Counselling for people affected by problem gambling

Gambler’s Help

Gambler’s Help Community Education Program

Gambler’s Help Venue Support Program

Therapeutic Counselling for people affected by problem gambling.


Child FIRST ( Child & Family Information Referral & Support Team) was established in this region in April 2007 following the enactment of the Child Youth & Family Act 2005

Family Violence

Enhanced Intake

The Enhanced Intake service receives referrals from the police via L17s to engage and refer men to men’s behaviour change groups. (approx. 1000 referrals annually from police)

It also accepts referrals from a range of community organisations, courts and individuals

Men’s Behaviour Change Program

The Men’s Behaviour Change (MBC) program offers men the opportunity to explore behaviours that have made family members afraid and scared of them and to look at new ways of behaving that support respect and equality.

This program offers

  • individual assessment to men and family members
  • counselling to prepare for group work
  • a 16-week group program
  • an ongoing support group
  • partner/ex-partner follow-up and support

The primary focus of the MBC program is the group work component.

The service is delivered in Ballarat and Ararat.

The program accepts referrals from across the Central Highlands region.

Step Up (adolescent family violence)

Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 who are using violence towards family members, particularly parents and carers.

Referrals primarily come via the police through L17s; however, the program has a small capacity to accept referrals from other programs and organisations.

The program offers intake, assessment, assertive outreach case work and a 10-week group work program for both young people and their carers.

Family Violence Court Counselling Program

Elements of the Family Violence Court Counselling program include:


  • Intake and assessment
  • Individual group readiness counselling
  • Men’s behaviour change group work program (26 sessions)
  • Partner/ex-partner follow-up
  • Ongoing support group

Women and Children

  • Individual counselling for women
  • Individual counselling for children
  • Support groups for women
  • Support groups for children

Corrections Victoria Men’s Behaviour Change (MBC) Program (MBC)

Delivery of men’s behaviour change programs to Corrections Victoria clients with conditions on their community-based orders to attend a MBC program.

Case Management for Men

For men removed from the family home because of their violence and abuse as well as for men at risk of homelessness due to their violence.

The program provides intake, assessment, referral, intensive case work and supported accommodation in four properties through the OOH and allocated by Uniting Care Ballarat.

The aim is to work with men to stop their violence, support women and children to remain in the family home (if safe to do so) and reduce the risk of homelessness.

Men are linked into support services including MBC programs.

Housing Services

SHASP (Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program)

Long-Term Intervention – 13-week case management tenancy support for tenants in office of housing who are at risk of homelessness, or establishing their tenancies and who have had previous tenancy issues. Tenancy issues could include long-term rental arrears, breach of duty notices (property condition), and hoarding issues. Tenants who require support for establishing their tenancies (who have had previous tenancy issues or from another region and have no supports in place).

Brief Intervention – Up to five hours of tenancy support for clients that require information or assistance in relation to their tenancies. This support is a brief intervention to prevent long-term intervention.

VCAT support

Region – Western division

Outreach  Fortnightly to Horsham, Stawell and Ararat. Bacchus Marsh weekly. Daylesford as required.

TAAP (Tenancy Advocacy and Advice Program)

VCAT Duty Advocacy Service  Advocates (caseworkers) attend VCAT weekly on Wednesday and Friday. They advocate for clients in the tribunal regarding tenancy issues

Tenancy Advocacy and Advice – Advocates provide advice and assistance to tenants in relation to their tenancy matters. They provide referrals to clients that are requiring further support services. This also includes providing VCAT assistance on non-VCAT duty days.

Education – Caseworkers provide educational sessions to relevant networkers. This can include attending team meetings or providing a presentation.

Outreach – Fortnightly outreach to Horsham, Stawell and Ararat. Bacchus Marsh and Daylesford as required.

Region – Western Division

ATAR (Aboriginal Tenants at Risk)

Caseworkers provide assistance to Aboriginal clients in the Grampians region. Clients need to be eligible or residents of Office of Housing or Aboriginal Housing Victoria. The program provides advocacy support for clients experiencing difficulties with their tenancies. The ATAR caseworker can assist with rebates, tenancy issues, rental arrears and VCAT matters. 

Outreach – Fortnightly outreach to Horsham, Stawell and Ararat. Bacchus Marsh and Daylesford as required.

Region – Western Division

Youth Housing Transitional Support

Youth Transitional Support includes the provision of accommodation for transition towards independent living. The  service is for youth 16–25 years old

Interim Response

Support workers remain engaged with young people who have been assessed and who are waiting for housing and support. Interim-response clients are monitored for any changes and assisted to prevent homelessness.

Male Crisis Service

Youth (Men under 25)

Includes more intensive short-term case-managed support. Duration of support is on average of six weeks.

Men with Dependent Children

Includes more intensive short-term case-managed support. Duration of support is an average of six weeks. Children’s needs are assessed by using the children’s assessment tool as part of the development of the support plan. There is one men-with-children crisis property which CAFS supports.

Cross Target Crisis Support

Includes more intensive short-term case-managed support. Duration of support is an average of six weeks.

A Place to Call Home (Moorabool)

Opening Doors

Opening Doors

  • Initial assessment and planning
  • Assistance to access HEF
  • Assistance to secure and/or maintain crisis, transitional or private rental accommodation
  • Interim response
  • Referrals
  • Safety planning
  • Advocacy/liaison

Transitional Support

Transitional Support – Bacchus Marsh

Cross-target case management support

Family Services – Daylesford

Cross-target case management support

Creating Connections

Creating Connections

  • Youth-Focused Housing Placement (YFHP)
  • Life and Living Skills (LLS)
  • Private Rental Access Program (PRAP)
  • Education, Employment and Training (EET)
  • Intensive Case Management (ICM)

HEF Brokerage

Housing Establishment Fund

Family Relationship Services

Post Separation Cooperative Parenting Program (PSCPP)

The Post-separation Cooperative Parenting Program (PSCPP) is designed to encourage separating and separated parents to channel their energies towards the “best interests” of their children.

The services offers:

  1. Intake and assessment
  2. Individual counselling
  3. Group work program for parents
  4. Group work program for children
  5. Follow-up

Note: This program is closely linked to the Children’s Contact Service

Children’s Contact Service

The service provides a safe and nurturing environment for children to maintain contact with a parent who is no longer living with them. The service assists families where a history of conflict, stress, violence, abuse or parental separation may have impacted on a parent’s ability to achieve regular, safe and healthy contact for children.

The program operates on weekends using the family room to provide:

  • supervised visits for up to two hours
  • supervised changeovers between conflicting parents.

During the week the program provides:

  • Intake and assessment
  • Individual counselling
  • Follow-up from weekend visits
  • Reports for the Family Court

Men and Family Relationships Service

This service aims to improve family functioning, safety and child wellbeing through counselling, group work and community programs. While the program has a focus on engaging and working with men, many of the programs include all family members.

The Men and Family Relationship Service offers a range of support services to men and their families through:

  • Counselling
  • Information and referral
  • Education groups
  • Community projects
  • Workplace initiatives
  • Information nights
  • Projects in schools

Some of the issues and challenges our service assists men and their families with include:

  • Family relationships
  • Parenting
  • Separation
  • Depression and anxiety, grief, loss and self-esteem issues.
  • Family violence
  • Step-parenting


The program aims to assist young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, to improve their level of engagement with family, education, training, work and the community.

The primary focus of the Reconnect program is the provision of short-term personal and practical interventions based on counselling, mediation and practical problem resolution for the target group of families and young persons aged 12 to 18 years.

The service works closely with local and regional service networks, schools and school-related programs to encourage early detection and intervention practices, as well as increasing community capacity.

CAFS delivers this service from its Bacchus Marsh site.

Regional or Program wide roles

CAFS Principal Practitioner

Supports and consults across all programs regarding clinical practice and service delivery.

Family Services Alliance Strategic Advisor

The advisor provides support to the Central Highlands Family Services Alliance to build and enhance an integrated service response, referral pathway and strengthened collaboration in the Central Highlands region.

Family Violence Regional Strategic Advisor Central Highlands

The advisor provides support to the Central Highlands Integrated Family Violence Committee and the family violence sector (funded, Indigenous and non-funded) to build and enhance an integrated service response, referral pathway and strengthened collaboration addressing family violence in the Central Highlands/Western Division area. The position currently works closely with the RIC in the Wimmera and Central Grampians to deliver support across the whole of the Greater Grampians region.

HEAL Healing Equine Assisted Learning Program

HEAL (Healing Equine Assisted Learning) Program

The HEAL program is an experiential learning experience for children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years old, whereby they interact with a small herd of horses in order to learn about themselves. The way a horse responds to a person depends on the emotional state of the person and thus can be a great ally in the healing process of young people struggling with issues such as childhood trauma, anxiety, anger management, low self-esteem, poor communication and interpersonal skills. The program is run through the EAGALA model with a strong therapeutic underpinning. The sessions can be either individual or group. Referrals are open to any member of the public to make on behalf of a child or young person. HEAL is a fee-for-service program.