Pathfinders provides an expanding program of Out of Home Care (OOHC) covering much of the Hunter New England/North West and Mid North coast regions. The OOHC portfolio currently accommodates around 120 children and young people in foster care, residential care and Transition to Independent Living program (SIL) placements.
For children who need time away from their family, foster care provides a safe and supportive home environment where children can heal and grow.
At Pathfinders, our commitment is for children to experience safe, continuous and stable living conditions, while forming lifetime relationships and a sense of belonging.
Children and young people enter Out of Home Care for a variety of reasons. A child’s stay with us in this program can range from one single night to permanency for 18 years and beyond. Whatever the reason a child enters Out of Home Care and the anticipated duration of care, children can feel confused and distressed. This can be a challenging time.
It is imperative foster carers welcome the child/young person into their homes and family whilst offering support to keep connection to family and culture alive.
Importantly, foster carers work as part of team with the child’s parents and other family members, the Pathfinders caseworker, the Department of Communities and Justice and any other health or educational professionals. Together, the ‘care team’ work to create a safe and nurturing environment that suits the child’s needs and circumstances.
Currently carers are being supported in the following locations- Armidale, Uralla, Moree, Tamworth, Guyra, Inverell, Walcha, Coffs Harbour, Glenn Innes, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie and Newcastle.
We have a huge need for carers of all types- but in particular respite and short term care. Carers from diverse backgrounds-for example- same sex couples and LGBTQ in general, Muslim and other multicultural backgrounds, Aboriginal carers and those willing to take on teenagers and children with disabilities, are all very welcome to participate in our foster care program.
Pathfinders provides residential care homes in all our serviced areas/regions. These homes provide safe and consistent care for up to four young people per location.
Residential Care provides safe, stable accommodation for young people usually aged over 12 years who have complex care needs. Young People in our residential homes are cared for by their Direct care team- who are maintained as small groups of consistent workers. The goal of all residential care homes to see the young person move into adulthood- either through restoration to their family or through our Transition to Independent living program (SIL).
Pathways currently have around 17 young people aged 16 and over- in our SIL program. Young people in the SIL program are provided with support to increase their day to day life skills as they move to independence and adulthood. This may be support to run a household- cook, clean, shop and budget, or help in education and career opportunities, or even support in obtaining driving licences.
As well as more traditional types of care arrangements, Pathways also provides an increasing number of innovative and creative care models- developed to cater to the unique individual needs of children and young people throughout NSW. Currently we support children and young people in a number of Enhanced Foster Care models in Armidale, Tamworth, Muswellbrook and Taree. We believe that the Pathfinders services offered in this enhanced model are sector leading in their quality and innovation and we look forward to collaborating on further development of this model with government and community partners.
In addition to home based services, Pathfinders also provides services through its Non-Placement Support and Caseworker Support Services. These are state wide programs which operate as a fee for service program providing youth mentors, contact supervisors, transport workers, cultural camps and developmental courses and programs. These services are provided to Pathways families as well as other agencies and Government departments.
Pathfinders caseworkers are supported to remain on low caseloads of 10 children and young people – we work to maintain this comparatively low case load to ensure that our caseworkers have the capacity to truly engage and form relationships with the children and young people as well as the carers assigned to them.
Currently we have 12 caseworkers- however this number is increasing rapidly- with caseworkers being sources in Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Taree, Muswellbrook and Moree areas.
Our casework team is supported in their day to day role through our ‘program support team’. This team consists of two carer support positions – one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal position, two caseworker support positions, and one carer recruitment/assessment coordinator.