Specialist support for children


The Homeless Children’s Specialist Support Service (HCSSS) is a unique, child focused program operating out of our South Melbourne facility, servicing the entire Southern region of Melbourne.

The program supports young people aged up to 18 years who have experienced homelessness or family violence, targetting young people with complex needs that aren’t being met by existing services.

The program focuses exclusively on the child, providing a comprehensive range of support to help address the impact of homelessness and family violence. Consistent themes observed by staff for children and young people in the program include mental health issues, bullying, grief, loss, poor nutrition, low self esteem, diminished confidence and trauma associated with homelessness and family violence.

It provides a suite of specialist support responses to children in families experiencing homelessness, including assessment and case planning support, enhanced case management support, and therapeutic group work. Collaborative work with other agencies and referring workers, co-case management, and shared co-facilitation of groups is an important feature of this program.

A chance to be heard

Importantly, the program gives young people the opportunity to be heard – and provides them with a safe and supportive environment to express themselves in. It is designed to support the work of other caseworkers working with the young people.

Regular support appointments with children, parents and their support worker from the referring agency enable the child to express their emotions and feelings. This is supported by individual and group activities such as drawing, movement, work sheets, play and voice, which help them begin to recover from the trauma of homelessness and family violence.

Take Rowan (not his real name) a 9 year old boy in the program who has witnessed family violence and breakdown, suffered health issues, experienced homelessness and consistently resided in temporary and inappropriate housing. He has endured no less than twelve moves in three years and several changes of schools where he has been the victim of bullying.

During one of his sessions he was asked what five things would make him most happy. He responded with ‘…make friends, no yelling at Dad, no fights, write better and read better’.

When the boy’s father was asked about the support his son was receiving through the HCSSS he commented “As a single Dad with ongoing issues I have found Hanover and most of all the support the HCSSS has given my son to be the best and something I feel will work and is working for us now.”

Practice Guide

Hanover Research staff have completed a Practice Guide for the program. The practice guide is linked to the Homeless Children’s Specialist Support Service (HCSSS). It describes and defines the HCSSS particularly the underlying practice principles that are necessary to ensure a quality program. The document has been informed by the practice wisdom of experienced HCSSS staff and is intended for use by practitioners, supervisors and managers.

Download the Practice Guide here.

Further information

For more information on the Homeless Childrens Specialist Support Service group work program click here, and to access resources for professionals, click here.


Referral Information and Resources

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HCSSS – group work program

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