Consultation period

27 November 2020 - 2:30 pm To 12 February 2021 - 11:59 pm

Supporting Improvements to the Families and Children Activity – General FAQs

Responses to unanswered questions at the Families and Children Activity Services Improvement Online Provider Forum on Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) facilitated the first of two online provider forums on 8 December 2020. Providers were able to ask questions of the department via pre-submission or live on the day.

Responses to questions that were asked on the day but were not able to be responded to due to time constraints are now available:

Webinar for: Department of Social Services Discussion Paper: Families and Children Services 2020 presentation briefing

Funding extensions

1. Is my organisation getting funding as part of these extensions?

These extensions apply to most families and children services under the Families and Children Activity. This includes almost all providers of: Communities for Children Facilitating Partners, Family and Relationships Services (including Specialised Family Violence Services), Family Mental Health Support Services, Children and Parenting Support services and Budget Based Funded Services.

These extensions do not apply to providers of Intensive Family Support Services, Find and Connect, Forced Adoption Support Services, Reconnect or Specialised Family Violence Services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

If you have questions about whether your specific organisation is getting funding as part of these extensions, please contact your Funding Arrangement Manager (FAM).

2. Are all the other CaPS providers receiving two-year funding extensions?

The majority of other CaPS providers are receiving two-year extensions. A small number of providers who do not receive routine, ongoing funding under the CaPS program are not included in these extensions. These providers will be contacted separately by the department. If you have any questions about your future CaPS funding, please contact your Funding Arrangement Manager (FAM).

3. Will we still receive SACS payments?

If your organisation is getting funding under these extensions and SACS applies to your current grant, an equivalent amount of SACS (plus indexation) will be provided as part of your base funding in your grant commencing from 1 July 2021.

This comes after Government announced through Budget 2020-21 it will provide $132.6 million from 2021-22 to support social services impacted by the legislated cessation of the Social and Community Services Special Account.

4. How long are you extending the programs for?

Communities for Children Facilitating Partners (CfC FP), Family and Relationships Services (FaRS) and Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) will be extended by five years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2026.

Five Children and Parenting Support services (CaPS) that are delivered at a national level will be extended for five years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2026.

Other CaPS and Budget Based Funded (BBF) services will be extended by two years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2023.

5. Why isn’t the department extending all funding agreements by five years?

Two-year extensions for providers of CaPS and BBF services will ensure funding certainty and allow the department time to consult with providers on the longer-term future of these programs.

6. Why are only five CaPS services being extended for five years?

These five CaPS services are not delivered on a community basis like other CaPS services. Instead, they are delivered at a national level. These five services support families and children across Australia, and will continue to do so in their current form over the next five years. For this reason, these five national CaPS services are receiving five-year extensions.

7. When will service providers receive funding extensions?

The department will extend existing funding agreements in accordance with standard grants administration and send new agreements to providers as soon as possible and well before 30 June 2021.

8. When are all the proposed changes being discussed going to take effect?

Some changes may need to be included in the grant agreements from 1 July 2021. Others may be implemented over the course of new grant agreements. Changes that may be implemented over the course of the grant agreement include things like updated Operational Guidelines. You will be given visibility over all proposed changes before you need to sign your grant agreement (including changes that may be implemented after grant agreements are in place). Consultation will cover all of these changes.

Consultation

1. What will the consultation process involve?

The consultation process will involve a range of methods including:

  • online provider forums facilitated by Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA)
  • the Discussion Paper and submitted responses
  • advisory group discussions
  • targeted conversations with key stakeholders.

Due to the necessary restrictions and impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, there will be an increased need for flexibility and limited face-to-face opportunities throughout this consultation.

2. Who do I contact for more information or clarification about the consultation process?

Please direct all enquiries to families@dss.gov.au and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

3. How long will the consultation run for?

The department is asking for submissions to the Discussion Paper by 12 February 2021 but the department expects the broader consultation process to continue into the first quarter of 2021.

4. Who is being consulted on the potential improvements to the FaC Activity?

The consultation is especially focused on in-scope service providers within the families and children sector but the department welcomes contributions from across Australia from service providers, communities, families and individuals.

5. What sort of feedback is DSS looking for?

We welcome ideas and feedback about how we can improve outcomes for Australian families and children.

A simple way to provide feedback is via the online guided questionnaire which asks questions across five themes drawn from the Families and Children Services Discussion Paper. You can also email or post your submission.

Your insights and experience are critical as we look for improved and new ways of working to deliver effective families and children services.

6. What happens next in the consultation process after submissions are received on the Discussion Paper?

The department will analyse feedback received through the consultation process and follow up with further questions through more targeted engagement with select stakeholders.

7. This consultation process mentions advisory groups. How do I register my interest to be part of an advisory group?

We are seeking interest from service providers across in-scope programs to participate in consultation advisory groups. In some cases we may approach your organisation directly. Places are limited, so please email families@dss.gov.au to register your interest. The department will contact you to follow up on your expression of interest.

8. What if I don’t have time to comment on this consultation due to the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic?

Participation in the consultation is optional. Feedback is welcome via a range of options, so if you wish to participate, please do so via the most suitable method for you. If you are unable to provide a submission by the closing date, please be assured that feedback is being provided widely from across the sector into the first quarter of 2021, which will give a broad range of perspectives for the department to consider.

9. Haven’t providers already given this information through the recently submitted Activity Work Plans (AWPs)?

AWPs provide the department with a wealth of valuable information that will inform the current consultation. While some topics in the Discussion Paper may relate to feedback provided through the AWPs, we are now asking providers to consider these topics within the context of this consultation. Generally, AWPs focus on what service providers are doing whereas this consultation focuses on future service delivery.


Please note: This FAQ page will be updated throughout the consultation process, as questions are received and when the response is appropriate for publication. Any further questions can be directed to families@dss.gov.au.

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