We recently met with some of our graduates who have shared some of their journey:
The centre runs 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with staff available to support the mothers through their recovery, to a point where they are equipped with the skills to begin to independently make safe choices for themselves and their family. This is THE FUTURE of child protection in Australia.
Our service is so valuable because usually mothers affected by co-occurring substance use and domestic violence are unable to receive residential treatment with their children in their care... meaning that they either need to relinquish their child for a period of time, or more often the case, they try and cope in their situation without receiving the help they need. We witness in media reports time and time again, THE COST of this decision to stay in unsafe situations, and each time we are devastated by the impact of family violence and substance misuse.
Did you know that DV shelters will not accept women who have an active substance use disorder? This means that women are often left with no option but to stay in their situation, often meaning ongoing abuse.
In addition to the unacceptable loss of lives (both the loss of women and multiple children), we also know the financial value of treatment. Research shows us that for every $1 spent on substance use treatment, it saves the government $7. This number is likely higher when factoring in children who are placed in child protection.
The Grace Homestead program focusses on restoring the family. WE KNOW that separating children from their parents is not the best solution, and only serves to create more intergenerational trauma. So in response, we have created a program where women are taught emotion regulation skills, relapse prevention, interpersonal effectiveness, boundaries and rights relating to personal safety, parenting skills, and fundamentals of parent-child attachment, all from a trauma-informed framework. We teach these skills while mothers are still caring for their child, so that they can apply their skills in a realistic manner, navigating all the normal life stressors of parenting and living, in addition to overcoming the traumas they have endured. The outcomes speak for themselves... 71% of our graduates are in sustained recovery... graduates reunified with their children... 60% in study or employment... and the list goes on.
Grace Homestead opened August 11th 2018, and here we are, over 2 years later, having witnessed some of the most incredible life transformations. Our data shows that keeping mothers and children together is pivotal to success in recovery.
Check out our previous video:
Why we need your help?
Grace Homestead has operated for 2 years with no ongoing funding. This means that our service is run purely by the generosity of volunteers. Everyone from the CEO , the clinicians, and the support workers, generously donate their time to support these families. That's over 20,000 hours donated by our amazing team. This is a massive achievement, however, we know that it is unsustainable over the longer term.
We are working TO RAISE $600,000 to continue the work of Grace Homestead. We know that the program works to restore lives, it costs less than placing parents in prison or children in foster care, and we need the help of the community to continue this important work. We know that government is finally discussing the issue.. with a proposed solution to remove children EARLIER from these situations. From our experience.. this will mean more children without placements, more families being torn apart, more trauma across multiple generations. Let's CHANGE THE NARRATIVE... let's keep families together by providing the right supports to enable them to have the BEST OPPORTUNITIES for success.
Funds raised will allow us to
• Subsidise our volunteer workforce with paid positions (including our psychology, social work, and coordination positions which have been backfilled by volunteers). This is critical to reduce volunteer burnout, and to retain a team with exceptional skills who are working with a complex population.
• Continue to provide up to date training for our workforce.
• Funds to help to cover the administrative costs of operating a residential care facility (e.g., accommodation, insurances, auditing, maintenance, etc.).
• Program facilitation including domestic violence intervention, relapse prevention, parenting... through to facilitating parent connection activities for the families, such as facilitating parent-child connection through play based activities. Our Saturday "Kids Connect" program often consists of a community activity such as attending wildlife parks, trampoline parks, waterparks, etc., with parents and children in the program, but also parents who have older children who are not residing in the program.
• Purchase of a 12 seater bus - to our amazement, we have managed to juggle the logistics of transporting a full facility of residents, with the generosity of volunteer vehicles and our little 5 seater runabout for almost 2 years. This often means volunteers donating their vehicle and associated running costs, changing 150 baby seats over 2 years... and scheduling additional staffing for simple outings.
• Subsidising our vocational program. Part of our program includes getting women back into the workforce, either through study or work placement opportunities to break the ongoing cycle of poverty that perpetuates abuse, violence, substance use, and disenfranchised families.
Other ways you can help
• You can help by donating, and sharing this page with your friends, family, and colleagues.
• Write a letter to your local MP, or our local MP (Scott Buscholz) asking for support for Grace Homestead, and / or support for similar centres to be created (and funded), which allow parents and children to stay together during treatment.
We are so grateful to the hundreds of amazing people who have dedicated their time and resources over the past two years. We know that we can continue this work, but only with the help of our community and government. It's time that we say "no more" to the failing child protection system, and insist on a long term solution that will outlive our current generation.
Help us to "be the change", to make a way, where there often appears to be no way forward for women and children stuck in domestic violence and trapped in substance use.
The Grace Homestead Team
- S and J Utting
- S and J Utting
- Tara Lawrence
Fundraising team (2)
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