About PDC

The Practice Development Centre is a welfare service initiative of Barnardos Australia, a children’s charity that is part of an international family of services begun by Dr Thomas Barnardos in England in 1867. The Practice Development Centre was established to integrate the work of The LAC Project Australia and SCARF Australia, joint ventures of Barnardos and the University of New South Wales principal researcher Elizabeth Fernandez. The LAC Project Australia and SCARF Australia have been in operation since 1999.

The LAC Project Australia was established to research and develop for the Australian context the UK licensed Looking After Children (LAC) guided practice case management system. LAC is intended for use with children and young people who are in out of home care. SCARF Australia researched and developed the Supporting Children and Responding to Families (SCARF) guided practice case management system for use with vulnerable children and young people living with their families. SCARF is based on the UK Children in Need case management system. The systems are based on the principles of child centred inclusive practice.

The concept of guided practice was first developed in the UK in response to high community concerns about the quality of welfare service provision. Such concerns were mirrored internationally. While the related issues are complex and multidimensional guided practice was seen as a significant strategy to help welfare practitioners make sense of what is happening for a child or young person and to come to an agreement as to what needs to happen to assist. Guided practice is a way of establishing a common framework and language about how practitioners work, establishing clear standards and work practice expectations.

The Practice Development Centre champions the development and use of guided practice systems as an important way to improve the welfare of all vulnerable Australian children, young people and their families.