Dalwood Spilstead Service
Making a difference that will last a lifetime
About Dalwood Spilstead Service
The Dalwood Spilstead Service provides multi-disciplinary early intervention including health, education and welfare support for vulnerable children under the age of 9 years. It has evolved from the historic Dalwood Children’s Home in Seaforth, Sydney, which was established in the 1930s to support families who required assistance in caring for their children, offering either short-term or long-term respite care. A day-care program was added in 1978 to specifically meet the educational and developmental needs of pre-school children. The Spilstead Model of Early Intervention followed and has been refined over the past 10 years to align services with worldwide research and best practice. The Dalwood Spilstead Service is now internationally recognized for its documented success in assisting young children at risk.
How is Dalwood Spilstead Service achieving its goals?
Referrals to the Dalwood Spilstead Service multidisciplinary program are mainly from the New South Wales Family and Community Services Child Protection Service as a result of trauma, abuse or neglect.
The early intervention model for children is based on neuro-developmental research and is combined with strengths-based family counselling, parent education (parent/child interaction, child behaviour management, family relationships and linking families with other community services) and volunteer home visiting to families in greatest need to provide personal support with home or parenting tasks. The model provides support for families with complex issues, for children with social, emotional or developmental needs, as well as parents experiencing mental health problems, substance abuse or domestic violence. Children under 2 years of age with developmental needs are serviced by an Infant Home-based Early Education and Intervention program.
An outreach program supports children who are attending mainstream preschool or school settings through regular consultation services via school or centre visits. It is a “one-stop shop” program. It can assist up to 90 families, providing an holistic approach under one service umbrella and from the one team, for both parents and children. A designated male family counsellor also co-ordinates specific programs and services for fathers.
How is Dalwood Spilstead Services funded?
Dalwood Spilstead Service is primarily a charitably-funded service and has a strong tradition of enlisting community and charitable support through philanthropic trusts, local businesses and fundraising events. The Dalwood Auxiliary donates equipment and materials and volunteers are an integral part of the Service.
What is Lenity Australia’s involvement?
Lenity Australia’s ongoing support to the Dalwood Spilstead Service will fund the Child’s Play Project – Out of Home Care. This program provides for the assessment and consultation for 75 children over the next three years who present with emotional and/or developmental disorders associated with early neglect, abuse or trauma. These children will receive intensive therapeutic interventions such as speech pathology and psychology services. Early specialist interventions are most effective if provided as early as possible in a child’s life and are not available via the public health system.
95% of brain development occurs in the first 8 years of a child’s life.
Children who experience early trauma in the home environment commonly go on to experience school failure, social difficulties and develop anti-social behaviour and often present to the criminal justice system.
Research has shown over a 41-year period that “at risk” children who had the benefit of early intervention had a 50% reduction in unemployment and police arrests compared with similar children who did not attend early intervention programs.
Cost benefit analysis indicates that for every $1 spent in the provision of intensive early intervention, there is a $17 saving in later costs to the community.