My Kids and Me - Strengthening relationships with kids in care

Date endorsed

Contact details:
Angharad Candlin
Address CatholicCare Sydney
2c West Street cnr Thomas St,
Suburb Lewisham
Postcode 2049
Phone 02 9509 1111
Program developer
Angharad Candlin, Robyn Mitchell, Monique Dickerson, Trudy McNamara
Facilitator requirements Facilitators are expected to have tertiary qualifications in the social sciences or equivalent. They should have knowledge and experience of group process and theory and preferably have completed training in group facilitation. Facilitators should have an understanding of the issues related to parents whose children have been removed, the capacity to manage strong emotions, a willingness to use creative tools and the ability to work in a co-facilitation model. Organisations should note that two trained facilitators are required to lead the My Kids and Me course. They will also need to complete a 2-day facilitator training workshop before they facilitate this program.
Target group This course has been developed for parents whose children are in statutory care. This may be long term, short term with restoration planned or a kinship placement. Pre-group interviews (either by telephone or in person) should be completed for each participant to ensure that they are group ready or that this course is the most appropriate for them.

This course would usually be unsuitable for parents who have recently given birth, whose child/ren have very recently been removed, have untreated or unsupported psychiatric illness and who are drug/alcohol affected during the sessions. It is expected that participants are able to demonstrate some insight into how Community Services came to be involved with their family and their own part in the situation. Parents who are separated or where there is a history of Domestic Violence should not be placed in the same group. Literacy and language skills should also be assessed prior to the commencement of the course and interpreters utilised if necessary.
Is this program available for purchase?

My Kids and Me is a unique seven week, psycho-educational parenting program designed specifically for parents of children who have been removed into statutory care.  Children may be under the Parental Responsibility of the Minister until the age of 18 or they may be in a temporary placement working towards restoration.  The age of the children is not a pre-requisite. The course has been developed and trialled by a team of parent educators and Intensive Family Support workers, from CatholicCare Sydney and CatholicCare Wollongong, over a period of 5 years.  It was positively evaluated by the Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia in 2013.  

Evaluation Report: and

The program aims to assist parents to understand some of the reasons why their family has come to the attention of Family and Community Services, to reflect on their experiences and to provide a safe and supported opportunity for change.  The program is designed to increase reflective functioning rather than to gain practical parenting skills.  The program typically runs over 7 x 2.5 hour sessions during the morning.  One of the sessions is given over to a legal aid practitioner to help parents understand the legal system and to address common questions parents engaged in the Children's Court often have.

The program utilises metaphor as a therapeutic tool for change which enables participants to develop a shared language for events and situations that at times may be to painful or complex to explain.  Using the metaphor means we are able to speak from an emotional centre rather an intellectual centre, providing a space for change.

The weekly sessions are as follows:

  • How Did We Get Here?
  • What's it Like for You?
  • Looking After Yourself
  • Talking and Listening
  • The Legal System
  • What's it Like for Your Kids?
  • Where to Now?

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