Our services

father reading with young girl 

Community Services provides services across three key program areas – prevention and early intervention, child protection and out-of-home care.

Prevention and early intervention

Good relationships between parents and children in the first three years of life provide the foundation for a healthy, happy and resilient life. Without nurturing experiences in their early lives, children face huge hurdles.

These hurdles can be made worse by a wide range of factors such as complex or unstable family structures, economic hardship, homelessness or sub-standard housing, parental substance abuse or mental illness.

We provide and fund a range of prevention and early intervention services that aim to address these issues by:

  • providing educational resources for parents
  • supporting and assisting children, young people and families under stress or in crisis
  • supporting and assisting people and families to care for themselves and their children
  • funding services to provide young people with opportunities for self development
  • providing funding and licensed childhood services including pre schools and childcare
  • reducing the isolation of people in communities by increasing their ability to engage in community activities
  • supporting services for children, young people and families at risk of involvement with alcohol and drugs
  • providing and funding support services to families, children and young people at risk of abuse or family breakdown
  • funding and assisting a range of support services to women and children escaping domestic violence
  • funding transitional support and accommodation services to people and families in crisis or who are homeless. This includes providing immediate and long term assistance to families and communities affected by natural and other disasters.

For more on prevention and early intervention see our parenting section.

Child protection

Our social environment places many families under all kinds of stress that can result in children being placed at risk.

It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of all child abuse reports to Community Services involve drug and alcohol-affected parents.

Likewise, domestic violence is escalating and other pressures include an increase in mental illness, gambling, homelessness, divorce and rising debt, as well as the difficulty of balancing workplace and family commitments and economic hardship.

The risk of children suffering psychological and physical harm as a result is very high. Research suggests that without intervention, many abused and neglected children can grow up to become society’s most dysfunctional and dependent individuals.

The potential social and financial cost of this risk is huge, both in immediate service needs (such as emergency medical care, investigation and foster care placement), and later in life (possible juvenile detention, adult institutionalisation and mental health services).

Our intensive and statutory intervention services protect children from significant risk of harm. These services include the assessment and investigation of reports of cases of child abuse and neglect, as well as intervention when children and young people are in need of care and protection.

For more on child protection see: what is child abuse, questions about reporting, and domestic violence support.

Out-of-home care

Sometimes children and young people aren't able to live with their families for a period of time. They may have experienced abuse or be at risk of abuse, or it may be that their families are unable to care for them due to illness, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence or poverty.

When children and young people can't live with their parents for a time, Community Services may provide or help arrange accommodation, care or other forms of support. Placements range from kinship care to living with foster carers or living in residential care.

The decision to remove a child from his or her home environment is not an easy one. Community Services must have sufficient evidence to satisfy a Children's Court that a child should be removed and in all instances be sure that we are acting in the best interests of the child.

A range of care, accommodation and support services are provided to children and young people across NSW. This is undertaken jointly by Community Services and through funding to non-government agencies.

Our priority is to:

  • work with families to help them regain care of their children
  • provide care in a family-like environment, for example with other relatives or kin, foster carers or adoptive parents
  • maintain the existing ties that children and young people have with their family and their community.

For more on out-of-home care see our foster care and adoption sections.

Disaster welfare

Under the State Disaster Plan (DISPLAN), we are responsible for helping provide immediate and long term welfare and recovery services during and after natural and other disasters.

This includes helping victims by providing food, accommodation, clothing, advice, guidance, personal and financial support.

We coordinate a number of key non-government agencies which help us to provide some of these services.

These partners include the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist Church (Adracare), St Vincent de Paul and Anglicare.

We also coordinate long-term recovery following disasters and may establish recovery centres. These are a ‘one-stop-shop’ where victims can access all the information and support they need, including financial support, insurance advice and other specialist information.

Community Services is a member of the Commonwealth’s Emergency Relief State Advisory Committee, which advises the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services on the distribution of emergency relief funding, the number and mix of agencies participating in the program, and effectiveness of the program’s operational arrangements.

See more on Community Services disaster welfare services.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)