Family Preservation Services


Shilus offers family preservation services that are family-focused and designed to assist families in crisis by improving parenting and family functioning while keeping children safe.


Family preservation services grew out of the recognition that children need a safe and stable family and that separating children from their families is traumatic for them, often leaving lasting negative effects. Our services are built upon the conviction that many children can be safely protected and treated within their own homes when parents are provided with services and support that empower them to change their lives.


Connection Through Play – Group Program


This group program was designed to provide parents and carers with an understanding of how they can use play to build engagement and relationships with their children and help manage complex and challenging behaviours. Underpinned by Vygotsky’s work in zones of proximal development, which suggests that interaction between parents and children are significant in the child’s development of new skills and overall development. This same concept of scaffolding has been verified by studies by Wood and Middleton (1975), Freund (1990), Cobble and Bredekamp (2009). Traditional theories of child development also emphasize the role that a primary caregiver has in establishing the basis for the child to develop healthy attachments, a sense of self, and sense of self-efficacy (Bowlby, 1969).


In addition to the role it has in their child’s learning and development when performed by a parent, play has also been found to have profound effects on the child’s emotional development, child-parent dyadic relationship and the development of child resilience. Evidence has found that early child-parent relationships facilitated by play have powerful effects on a child’s emotional well-being (Dawson and Ashman, 2000). It has also been found that effective and appropriate interaction through play between parent and child provide the child with the skills they need to engage with others and to succeed in different environments (Rogoff, 2003).


The day-to-day interactions between children and their parents, including play time, help drive their emotional, physical and intellectual development (Brazelton and Cramer, 1990). These dyadic interactions are essential for the development of a child’s sense of self (Tronick and Beeghly, 2011) and emotional regulation skills, like self-calming and self-control skills.


Unfortunately, those parents most in need of support and guidance tend to be the ones least likely to access it (Fram, 2003; Ghate and Hazel, 2002; Offord, 1987). These include families with low incomes, young parent families, sole parent families, Indigenous families, families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, families with a parent who has a disability, and families experiencing problems with housing, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health or child protection (Carbone et al., 2004).


Evidence and our experience shows that the cost of failing to provide timely support to these families is considerable. As problems worsen, they become more difficult and expensive to remedy (Social Exclusion Task Force, 2007). Providing access to the Shilus Connection Through Play program increases participation of children and their families in early childhood services, preventing future, more difficult intervention (Katz, 2007; Vinson, 2009). Our program has been specifically designed with marginalised and vulnerable families in mind to best meet their needs. Studies have shown that programs not specifically tailored for these groups have limited effectiveness (Katz et al., 2007). Our Connection Through Play program is sensitive to the commonly identified relational and interpersonal barriers affecting effectiveness and engagement of vulnerable and/or marginalised families in early intervention programs by:


  • Providing sensitive and non-judgemental approaches to our delivery.
  • Having completed in-depth cultural competency and sensitivity training and having experience working closely with families of diverse backgrounds, our programs are designed to be culturally sensitive and provide participants with the ability to actively contribute to the group. Our trainers are sensitive to the fact that families need to be heard and appropriate assistance provided throughout the coursework to ensure engagement and effectiveness of the program
  • Putting parents at ease
  • Acknowledging and building on family strengths and engaging families as partners.


This program also aims to provide families with some skills and knowledge to:


  • Understand and trust in the services being offered and provided to them
  • Not fear child protection services
  • Negotiate with professionals with appropriate social skills and confidence
  • Not be easily intimidated by perceived attitudes of staff or other parents.


The following key areas are explored during the Connection Through Play group program:


  • Learning about play
  • Building positive relationships and learning from play
  • How do we know if we are playing with our children enough?
  • When play can be used to replace challenging behaviour
  • How does play reduce parental stress?
  • When and how do I use play to support my child’s learning
  • Why play is important for parents


This program provides parents with an understanding of the importance of encouraging an active approach to problem solving, providing positive attention to their child from infancy, giving them the opportunity to be alert and autonomous, encouraging them to seek out novel experiences, and displaying an optimistic viewpoint even in the face of distressing experiences.


Expected Outcomes:


Our program is expected to provide parents and carers participating and engaging in this program to reach the following outcomes:

  • Increase their bond with their children through appropriate play
  • Reduce parental stress
  • Help manage challenging behaviours of their children
  • Create opportunities for positive family routines and relationships
  • Understand their role in the emotional, psychological and physical development of their child/ren


Please CONTACT US to discuss further or to obtain a quote.

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