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We’re thrilled to announce that Berry Street has become the first accredited provider of the Teaching Family Model (TFM) in Australia! This also makes us the 23rd accredited TFM site in the world.

Receiving TFM accreditation is an encouraging step for us in transforming the residential care sector in Victoria. We’ve transitioned 5 Therapeutic Residential Care homes to TFM, supporting up to 20 children and young people at any one time, and ultimately plan to transition all our Therapeutic Residential Care homes.

Our Director of Innovation, Tom Bowerman said that Berry Street has been working towards this accreditation since our successful TFM pilot in 2017.

The accreditation from the Teaching-Family Association means our implementation of the model is effective and of a very high standard. It shows that children and young people in our care are benefiting from this innovative model.

Tom Bowerman Director of Innovation

The Teaching Family Model is a trauma-informed model of out-of-home care which provides dedicated, specialised support in a family-style setting for children and young people whose significant trauma means they’re unable to benefit from more traditional models. In TFM children and young people learn new behaviours by observing and imitating others. TFM is based on social learning theory and focuses on building strengths, problem-solving and interpersonal and leadership skills.

The model also has a strong evidence base and, with more than 40 years of research evidence, it has transformed residential care across many countries.

“This news is a milestone and so encouraging for Berry Street,” our TFM Senior Manager, Frances Head, said. “It helps validate our efforts and advocacy around the need for TFM in providing better care to the most vulnerable children and young people. We can’t wait to see the positive outcomes that come from using the model in more of our residential care homes.”

Mr Bowerman said that receiving accreditation is a reflection of the team’s hard work, skill and dedication. “Special thanks to Frances Head - our TFM Senior Manager, our TFM Practitioners and Consultants, as well as to Youth Horizons | Kia Puāwai who supported us on this journey,” he said.

A rigorous review

Due to restrictions on international travel, the Teaching-Family Association (TFA) in the United States undertook our accreditation virtually. It was a rigorous process that involved tours of TFM homes over Zoom, staff interviews and in-depth reporting.

During the review, we were measured across various categories including:

  • effectiveness
  • trauma-informed care
  • training
  • professionalism.

The reviewers expressed that “Berry Street has done a fantastic job of implementing the Teaching Family Model by converting 5 traditional residential programs into 5 thriving Teaching Family Model homes.”

Positive feedback from the reviewers

Here are some highlights from the TFA reviewers:

  • Berry Street is clearly committed to delivering the highest quality care to young people in need.
  • The young people view [TFM staff] as helping them meet their goals, caring about their wellbeing, and invested in their success.
  • All young people indicated they felt safe and that [TFM staff] taught them things they didn’t know or have not experienced before in the past.
  • It was obvious that the young people can decorate parts of their rooms (boards, bedspreads, pictures), express their cultures […] and are treated like family.
  • Many of the young people interviewed expressed how the staff treat them well, they are treated like family, and are given a voice and able to express their feelings. This is all done through house meetings, general conversation, and more formal decision-making opportunities.

The future for TFM within Berry Street is looking bright. We’re excited about the opportunities that TFM will create for children and young people in our care.

More information

Learn more about the Teaching Family Model

Learn more about how TFM is transforming residential care in Victoria