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Frequently asked questions - Family Connect and Support

Replacing Family Referral Service, Family Connect and Support launches on 1 January 2021. It will provide coordination to high-quality, evidence-based, wrap-around support services for families experiencing issues as early as possible.


  • What is Family Connect and Support (FCS)?

    FCS is a voluntary service for children, young people and families who require support to maintain a safe and positive family environment. Anyone in NSW can access FCS.

    FCS assists families who may be experiencing issues or concerns including financial, parenting, substance use, mental health, domestic and family violence, housing and homelessness. We connect families to the right supports before their concerns escalate.

    FCS is an early intervention and prevention service that helps families identify their strengths and address underlying issues and needs from a holistic perspective.

    You can read the full service specifications in the Family Connect and Support Program Specifications July 2020.

  • Why is the Family Referral Service (FRS) being redesigned to Family Connect and Support (FCS)?

    The FRS program has played a key role in supporting families so that children and young people are safe and well.

    FCS builds on the FRS and provides enhanced service features and practice guidelines to reflect the current need within communities across NSW.

    The opportunity to redesign and build on the work of the Family Referral Services (FRS) program was identified through extensive sector consultations which told us that FRS is a valued program that helps thousands of families every year. A number of key features and strengths of the FRS will remain in the FCS model, including:

    • family strengths and needs are assessed to inform service response
    • information and advice is provided to help families navigate the service system
    • families are connected to services that link them with appropriate support services in their local area
    • referrals are followed up to ensure they are appropriate and sustainable
    • timely and comprehensive feedback is provided to inbound referrers about the outcome of their referral to the program
    • brokerage funds are used flexibly to address immediate family needs
    • assertive outreach methods to reach isolated families
    • a voluntary program delivered state-wide to families in NSW experiencing vulnerability.
  • What makes Family Connect and Support (FCS) different from Family Referral Service (FRS)?

    Service features

    • Introduction of Family Group Conferencing to leverage off informal supports and resources and increase family empowerment.
    • Increased focus on outreach into universal settings to support referral pathways and decrease barriers to service access.
    • Increased focus on innovation and flexible service delivery to respond to large scale disasters and emergencies and to reach isolated families.

    Program wide features

    • Co-designed Common Assessment Framework, universal referral forms, case plans and practice tools to increase consistency across the FCS program.
    • Redesigned and centrally managed program wide website with new referral functionality.
    • Outcomes based reporting and service delivery aligned to the domains of the Human Services Outcomes Framework, to ensure the FCS model is having a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable families.
    • FCS services will be delivered under a Human Service Agreement.
    • Funding and resource allocation model reflects current demographics and community need.
    • Updated service targets, compliance and accountability measures.
  • Who is Family Connect and Support (FCS) for?

    The FCS program can be accessed by families, children and young people across NSW who may be experiencing vulnerabilities and issues that do not require involvement from the statutory child protection system. The FCS service model was informed by the Stronger Communities Insights data which identified priority populations:

    • Aboriginal children, young people, and their families
    • Families with children aged 0 - 5 years
    • Children and young people affected by mental illness

    FCS service providers will be required to use these identified priority populations to further inform and underpin their service delivery and planning to increase engagement and access by the specified priority groups.

  • Who are the successful Non-Government Organisations to deliver Family Connect and Support (FCS)?

    Name of FCS Service Provider/Partnership

    DCJ districts(s)

    Uniting (NSW.ACT)

    Western NSW, Far West and South West Sydney Districts

    Save the Children Australia

    Murrumbidgee District

    South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation

    Illawarra Shoalhaven District

    The Benevolent Society

    Hunter, Central Coast and New England Districts

    Barnardos Australia

    Western Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, Sydney and South East Sydney Districts

    Barnardos Australia in partnership with CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay

    Northern Sydney District

    Social Futures

    Northern NSW District

    Social Futures in partnership with Pathfinders Ltd

    Mid North Coast District

    Mackillop Family Services in partnership with Marymead

    Southern NSW District

  • When will service delivery commence?

    The Family Connect and Support program will commence from 1 January 2021 in communities across NSW.

    DCJ and the NSW Ministry of Health continue to work in partnership to ensure a smooth transition from FRS to FCS. This is particularly important for families who may be receiving support through FRS when transition takes place.

  • Where can I find more information about the implementation of FCS?

    Any questions relating to the implementation of FCS in the lead up to service delivery commencing please email the mailbox.

  • How will existing clients of FRS and referrers know if they need to do anything different when FCS commences?

    Families and referrers should speak to their current service provider for up-to-date information about the transfer.

  • What will be different for families?

    Depending on where you live, the organisation providing FCS may be different to the previous FRS provider in your area. Some of the organisations have changed, and the district boundaries have also changed to line up to DCJ district boundaries. Regardless of who the provider is in your area, the service will be the same across NSW and will continue to have the same easy referral process.

  • What will be different for referrers?

    The organisation providing FCS in your district may change, however the FCS will continue to receive referrals from a number of sources including families, communities and the sector.

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Last updated: 18 Nov 2020