Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

What are Child and Family Support Networks (CFSNs)?

What are Child and Family Support Networks (CFSNs)?

Supporting families and keeping children safe is everyone’s business. Families should experience services as easily accessible and integrated at the front line in their own communities. CFSNs will help support this by taking a localised, area based approach. CFSNs are the unit building blocks of the National Service Delivery Framework (NSDF) and the frontline operational structure that will ensure integrated service delivery.

Given the variety in population density, levels of need, and service provision in different areas, a number of CFSNs will be established in each area. CFSNs may serve geographical areas that are smaller than Area Management areas or Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC) areas in order to provide a cluster of support effectively.

The local CFSNs should consist of all services that play a role in the lives of children and families in a given area. This includes local statutory children and families service providers (e.g. psychology, public health nurses, social work, justice, education and welfare) and local voluntary and community children and families services (Family Support Centres, agencies currently funded through the HSE/CFSA children and families services & organisations funded through other sources e.g. Pobal, Department of Education).

To be successful, CFSNs need to work effectively in partnership with families to ensure:

  • there is ‘no wrong door’ for families
  • all families in their locality receive easily accessible support, appropriate to meet their identified needs.

In practical terms, that means that if a family presents to one service within the network and that service is not equipped to meet their needs, that network member should effectively re-direct the family to the network member(s) most appropriate to their needs. To be able to do this, CFSN members need to develop a good understanding and become familiar with one another’s work. Training together as an inter-agency group will be a key method of developing the CFSN as a unified, cohesive and integrated support system.

Although all CFSNs share a common purpose of coordinating support to children and families, the nature of a CFSN may vary depending on what works best for a particular area:

  • Some CFSNs could have a particular service at the centre (such as a Family Resource Centre or Family Support project [internal or external to Tusla]) to give a very visible, local presence to the CFSN.
  • In more dispersed rural locations, the CFSNs could be a virtual network.

The Child and Family Support Network Coordinator is a key role to support the achievement of this transformative level of deep integration across children’s services. The Coordinator reports to the new role of Principal for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support who is a member of the Tusla Area Management Team and in turn reports to the Area Manager. The Coordinator supports the development of the Child and Family Support Networks and oversees the Meitheal process.

WEBSITE BY CREATIVE INC & Kooba Web Design Dublin