The Reily foundation is established with the sole purpose of providing a voice for children and their parents when they are not being heard.
Too often children will disclose abuse perpetrated against them, and too often they are not heard nor believed. Often children will tell the non-abusive parent about the abuse and the parent will relay the child’s story to authorities who regretfully will not believe the parent. This inaction by those entrusted to protect children, governments and non-government’s alike, places children at further risk and possibly death.
For those of us who work in the area of child protection we hear far too many stories where children have disclosed to the police and other authorities that they are being abused but have been told that because of a child’s age they are not a credible witness, or the story is inconsistent.
The Reily foundation also understands that children need to be removed from abusive parents. The Foundations primary function is to better understand how we may be able to work with at risk families so that children can remain with those families in a safe protective environment. We believe, when possible, children remaining with their biological family provides the best outcomes. Most parents who have had their children removed recognise the factors which caused the removal. They often lack faith in the system which removed their children. The foundations role is to find pathways for the parents to parent differently and to have their children returned to them.
The Reily Foundation will uphold the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every child, where possible, should have the opportunity to live with their biological family.
Any person who experiences the child protection system for the first time finds it difficult to navigate through a world of emotion and confusion. We will provide advocacy services for parents so that parents can adequately address departmental concerns. This will entail discussing the concerns of the Department and ensuring that the parent is addressing those concerns. We will attend meetings with child protection services so that the views of parents can be appropriately articulated. Parents who encounter the child protection system are usually the most vulnerable people in our community it is therefore important that they understand their human rights. It is imperative that the rights of the children who have been removed are also upheld.
Counselling and Therapeutic Services
Professional therapeutic services will be provided. In order to address many of the concerns identified by Child Protection Services counselling is often a requirement. Social work and psychological services will be available for parents and children. These services will be tailor-made so that they comply with CPS requirements. They will address mental health, sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse and parenting issues. Professional reports will also be prepared to further assist in assessments and court proceedings. There has always been a strong demand for parenting capacity assessments external to those provided by CPS. We will provide professionals with experience in this area for the purpose of these assessments.
We will provide solicitors who are familiar with the youth court and the family court. As legal aid is being further squeezed it is our goal to fund legal fees when legal aid is no longer available. Under all circumstances it is our goal to provide legal services which meet the specific needs of parents and children. We believe that no person should be left without legal representation because they are unable to afford it.
Most parents who encounter the child protection system or the family law court are required to undergo training in specific areas relating to departmental or family court concerns. We will be providing courses that address parenting issues, domestic violence, anger management, conflict resolution and drug and alcohol use.
For us to achieve any of the above objectives we will need substantial funding from either the government, philanthropic organisations or the general public. For us to achieve these goals we will need a commitment from those who will provide these services and the public who will support what we wish to achieve.
All these services will need to be housed in the one location. Office space for the professional services and a larger space for the group work. General office space will be required for additional administration staff.
What we are presenting here is the culmination of over a decade working in the area of child protection. We know that these are the services required and that to some extent these services are provided through a range of organisations within our community. But the plethora of random services which are available lack coordination and a connection from one service to the other. We will offer that connection with staff who are working in a number of areas with a client able to discuss the work they are doing and the progress the client is making. To our knowledge this is the first time a range of services have been amalgamated in this manner. We believe it will present an independent and well informed view of the progress parents are making and will better inform authorities as to the decisions they can make which will improve outcomes for children. We understand that there will be occasions where our recommendations may differ from those of the CPS.
Child Protection Services are not equipped to work with clients in the same manner that we propose. They often don’t have the time nor the skill set to develop the relationships required in order to make full and appropriate assessments of parents. It needs to be noted that our intention is not to replace Child Protection Services but rather to fill a gap which often leaves parents without appropriate direction and guidance. It is our goal to minimise the number of children who are placed in long-term care when parents are capable and willing to address the concerns of the Department. Working with the Department for many parents leaves them feeling disenfranchised and powerless. It is our role to empower parents to take control of their lives and to focus on the well-being of their children. We plan to do this in a collaborative way by working with government agencies and non-government agencies to ensure that the best services are available and coordinated in such a way that they meet the needs of all children.
The Reily Foundation is founded to ensure that the best possible outcomes are available to all children. That parents who encounter the Child Protection System are in the best possible position to rectify issues identified by CPS so that their children can where possible, safely be returned to them.