When it comes to working with children and young people in out-of-home or foster care, as well as their families and significant others, creating a safe and supportive environment is paramount.
For Supervised Contact Workers, their role is to develop meaningful contact with those young people while being responsible for the planning, supervising and reporting on contact visits.
We spoke to several Supervised Contact Workers to learn more about their role, their passions and how they are positively impacting the lives of young people throughout New South Wales.
Restoration is always the aim
For Belinda Belcastro, Team Leader – Supervised Contact Worker Program Sydney, her ultimate goal is to develop meaningful relationships that lead to the child or young person returning to live with their birth family.
“Restoration at Challenge is what we aim for every day,” Belinda says. “It’s the best-case scenario because you don’t want children going from home to home – you want them to be with their birth family if that is the safest place for them.”
And it’s those best-case outcomes that drive Belinda’s passion for supervised contact work. Whether it’s a restoration story or an adopted child who has been able to stay with their long-term carer, that’s where Belinda derives the most satisfaction from her job.
“It’s just really rewarding knowing they are finally in a place where they are accepted and they feel like they are at home.”
Building working relationships with families
Natalie Hufnagel, also a Team Leader at Challenge, says the ideal environment for contact visits is created when everyone works towards the same goal.
Together with Case Workers and Supervised Contact Workers, the team comes together as one big family to deliver the best possible experience for young people.
“My favourite part about my job is just working with the families,” Natalie says. “The foster carers, children and birth families. I also love being part of a team.
I love bouncing ideas off one another. I love getting together and really unpacking cases so we can make a difference and make things work better.”
Natalie believes Supervised Contact Workers play a vital role in the visitation process and have the capacity to make an enduring mark on young people and their families.
“My job makes a difference because we provide a safe and friendly environment for children to have family time, whether it’s out in public or in a contact room. The workers do an amazing job in making that happen.”
A safe space for family time
Giving children in out-of-home and foster care the opportunity to spend time with their birth families or significant others is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a young person.
Natasha Crispin, Northern Team Leader at Challenge, is a proponent of this belief, and it’s her role to facilitate the birth-family contact.
“We provide a safe space for children and young people to have family time, whether it be with their birth family or significant others. That really makes a huge difference towards their identity.”
No matter the case, Natasha says working with children every day is what transforms her job from ‘work’ into a passion.
“We have recently been supporting a young girl in Armidale and we have seen her reach numerous goals since coming into care with us. She received her first-ever school award last week, which we were all there to see.”
Shared morals, shared values
The role of Supervised Contact Worker is a unique position that attracts a variety of people and personalities. Danielle Ghilardi, Central Coast Team Leader at Challenge, says there’s a consistency of shared morals and values across her team, which allows them to make a lasting impact on children and their families.
“It’s really rewarding seeing the changes that a child can make once they’re in a loving, supportive and caring environment,” says Danielle, who also shares one of her biggest achievements in her role to date.
“We’ve seen a young girl be restored back to her father after he completed a 12-month program, which now means that she’s out of the out-of-home care system and she’s placed with her family. She will be able to have contact with the significant people in her life now through her placement.”
To learn more about what support you will receive as a foster carer click here.
Are you ready to give a child or young person in need a safe and stable home life? To find out more contact Challenge Foster Care on 1800 084 954 or firstname.lastname@example.org.