Survey results show Teaching Family Model staff highly engaged and excited about the impact they have

Monday, January 11, 2021

A survey of Berry Street’s Teaching Family Model (TFM) practitioners and consultants in late 2020 has found that staff are seeing first-hand the benefits of the model for the children and young people in our care.

Berry Street is the first organisation in Australia to implement the Teaching Family Model, an evidence-based, alternative approach to traditional residential care. Since our successful pilot in 2017, we’ve transitioned 5 Therapeutic Residential Care homes to TFM, supporting up to 20 children and young people at any one time.

In the course of offering TFM we’ve seen many positive impacts and significant improvements among children and young people in TFM homes.

With 141 staff now trained in the model, including 106 TFM practitioners and 7 TFM consultants, the survey responses provide insights into how TFM works in practice and what makes it so effective.

Positive impacts for children and young people are evident

Overall, TFM staff are satisfied and motivated in their jobs. Here’s a snapshot of why.

  • “I strongly believe that TFM is how residential care should be. It fills my youth worker passion cup every single day and I love the work that we do WITH the kids, not FOR.”
  • “Working in this model is very motivating for me. You can see results quickly in all areas for carers and kids. It’s inspiring to be doing something new and innovative in Australia.”
  • “Seeing carers’ confidence grow and the overall response from young people makes it very satisfying. It's clearly an effective model for both carers and young people. Seeing the minor changes that slowly develop to major progress is the most satisfying factor.”
  • “Our team is very motivated and passionate. Everyone is here because they love what they do.”

TFM structure provides vital direction and support

TFM is a structured model with key strategies including decision making tools, regular family meetings and daily plans (individualised schedules to help children and young people plan their days). This structure helps guide both staff and children and young people.

  • “I enjoy the structured language and how the model reflects and supports our young people to get more involved in everyday decisions about their life.”
  • “The model is fantastic and gives practitioners much needed direction and support in the care we give the kids.”
  • “The TFM model provides more structure, boundaries and teaching to each young person’s individual needs [than traditional residential care].”
  • “I find that young people respond really well once they have understood the program.”

Opportunities for staff to grow and learn

Many practitioners and consultants expressed that TFM training and the support they’ve received has been a great opportunity for learning and professional development.

  • “With TFM there is always ongoing learning; it doesn't stop once the initial 4-day training is complete.”
  • “I'm a work in progress but have learnt so much and have had patient, competent mentors teaching me.”
  • “Opportunities [for professional growth] are available and Berry Street has been proactive and responsive in converting to online learning in the light of COVID-19 and working from home logistics.”

Looking ahead

The future for TFM within Berry Street is looking bright. We plan to transition all our Therapeutic Residential Care homes to TFM and are really excited about the opportunities it will create for the children and young people we care for.

More information

Read the latest news about TFM.

Discover a young person’s favourite things about living in a TFM home.

Learn more about the Teaching Family Model.