Supporting a father to spend time with his baby

Supporting a father to spend time with his baby

Monday, 2 September 2019

Father holding hand of child

Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) is a three-year pilot service, providing non-legal advocacy to families engaged with the child protection system, focusing on matters before they go to court.

IFAS focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and parents who have an intellectual disability, helping them to build the skills to speak up for themselves and their children.

Mark’s story – building confidence to engage with services

Mark (not his real name) contacted IFAS from hospital worried about Child Protection’s plans for his baby, after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had asked for a parenting assessment.

Mark told IFAS he had agreed to a family violence intervention order (FVIO) and had been told he could not live with the mother and baby.

Mark told IFAS he didn’t feel confident to have direct contact with the child protection worker and did not understand their plans.

IFAS worked with Mark to firstly advocate for him, and then build his skills and confidence to speak up for himself.

Firstly, the IFAS advocate spoke directly to Child Protection on Mark’s behalf to understand their concerns and pass those concerns back to Mark.

Our advocate attended a home visit and a family meeting to directly advocate for Mark to have ongoing contact with the child, and to explain his willingness to attend a men’s behavioural change programme.

Our advocate then accompanied Mark to the enrolment session for the behavioural change programme, and provided him with a diary to keep a record of his contact with his child and evidence of appointments he was attending.

To build up his confidence, IFAS helped Mark to develop new ways to communicate with Child Protection so he could understand what they are asking him to do, and to provide positive feedback about what he was doing for the baby.

As a result, Mark now has the confidence to contact his Child Protection worker directly. He’s working well with the men’s behavioural change programme, attending his appointments and is happy to be having regular, positive, supervised contact with his child. He’s also complying with the conditions of his FVIO and is engaging with a psychologist again.

Child Protection say Mark is great to work with, they can see he is trying hard with the baby and they have thanked IFAS for supporting him to work through their concerns.

Note – Names and identifying information have been removed, and Mark's consent has been obtained to share this story.

More information

Read more about Independent Family Advocacy and Support.

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