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The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is leading the implementation of evidence based service models to allow more children to stay at home safely, and ultimately to reduce entries into Out-of-Home-Care. As part of this effort, a trial of the SafeCare program is being undertaken within selected sites within the NSW Brighter Futures program.

The Brighter Futures program delivers targeted early intervention child protection services to families with children who are at high risk of escalating within the statutory child protection system. The program works with families with children aged under 9 years, and provides a range of tailored services including case management, casework focused on parent vulnerabilities, structured home visiting, quality children’s services, parenting programs and brokerage funds.

About SafeCare

SafeCare is an evidence-based, behavioural skills training program for parents who are at-risk or have been reported for maltreatment. It has been shown to reduce neglect and abuse among families with a history of, or risk factors for, abuse and neglect. The National SafeCare Training and Research Centre (NSTRC) of Georgia State University, USA, conducted four randomised control trials of SafeCare. Their trials demonstrated that it significantly lowers reports of child abuse and neglect in families where children are considered at risk of maltreatment

As such, it has the potential to support parents to provide their children with appropriate care and to keep families together.

DCJ SafeCare Newsletter

NSW SafeCare Trial

The three year NSW SafeCare trial is being implemented in eight Brighter Futures sites; Barnardos in Orana Far West, Mission in Wagga, CatholicCare in Taree, Samaritans in Newcastle, CareSouth in Illawarra, and Wesley Mission in Nepean, Blacktown and Parramatta.  The trial is supported by an independent intermediary and will be formally evaluated.

A good news story featuring a SafeCare family was featured in Shining a light

NSW SafeCare Trial Evaluation

The Department of Community and Justice has commissioned Siggins Miller to conduct an independent evaluation of the 2 year SafeCare Trial within Brighter Futures Program. The evaluation assessed the outcomes of the program, process and economic evaluation. The evaluation also assessed the outcomes achieved for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families engaged in the program.

Evaluation report of the Brighter Futures-SafeCare Program

Implementation & Australian Training and Quality Assurance Centre

The Parenting Research Centre has been appointed as the intermediary to support the implementation and develop a NSW SafeCare training and support unit.

The implementation intermediary was selected through an open tender process. The purpose of the implementation intermediary is to build organisations’ capacity to deliver (and measure) high quality results and deliver evidence-based models with fidelity.

The intermediary establishes a link between DCJ, service providers and model developers throughout the implementation process. They work directly with service providers, with a focus on securing quality service provision while meeting the fidelity requirements of the model.

The Parenting Research Centre will facilitate the trial in NSW for a three year period, with the prospect of establishing SafeCare in further Brighter Futures sites if the program is found to be successful in NSW.

The NSTRC will be directly engaged to continue training and support to trial SafeCare for a further two year period in NSW, while the Parenting Research Centre staff become qualified as trainers.

It is anticipated that the NSW SafeCare Training and Support Centre will become a sustainable training unit for NSW, and will work towards providing locally based coaches, which will take over training and support provided by NSTRC within 18months of implementation.


As the model was developed in the USA, an evaluation is required to ensure that it works within the NSW context and is appropriate for the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families.

The target cohort for the program is parents at risk of neglecting and/or abusing their children and parents with a history of child neglect and/or abuse with children 0 – 5 years. The parent training program involves one 1.5 hour home visit per week for 15-20 weeks that targets risk factors for child neglect and physical abuse in which parents are taught skills in three module areas:

*           Interacting in a positive manner with their children, to plan activities, and respond appropriately to challenging child behaviours

  • Recognising hazards in the home in order to improve the home environment

*           Recognising and responding to symptoms of illness and injury, in addition to keeping good health records (see Appendix 1 for more information).

The goals of SafeCare are to:

  • Reduce future incidents of child maltreatment
  • Increase positive parent-child interaction
  • Improve how parents care for their children’s health
  • Enhance home safety and parent supervision.

Training Australian providers

The NSTRC was in Australia in October 2017 to train 32 new caseworkers from participating trial sites. The trainers also trained three SafeCare coaches. These SafeCare coaches will be the first in Australian coaches.  This marks the beginning of this phase of the trial.

In May 2018 NSTRC returned to Sydney and trained a further 18 caseworkers and 10 SafeCare coaches.

SafeCare in the Media

SafeCare has attracted media attention as families receiving the program have found it to help them with their parenting

Frequently Asked Questions

Implementing SafeCare in Brighter Futures Frequently Asked Questions

For more information

NSTRC Training team

NSTRC Training team

Panel held at SafeCare round table forum.

Panel held at SafeCare round table forum.

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Last updated: 12 Jul 2022