The Western Sydney Kids Early Years (KEYS) Network is the first of its kind in New South Wales. It is designed to align social and health sector agendas to deliver cohesive client services. KEYS relies on multi-sector collaboration to develop a coordinated care model for those stuck in a cycle of disadvantage. The KEYS Network is a collaboration between WentWest, the Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN), the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and the Department of Education (DoE).

After escaping domestic violence, Amara* had to find a new home for her and her eighteen-month-old child. They needed somewhere to live that would be safe from her ex-partner, and that was affordable as she had a limited budget. Finding an appropriate home was difficult and made even more challenging as she was also experiencing poor mental health.

KEYS were contacted, and the first priority was to find a suitable home for Amara and her little one. KEYS then sourced basic furnishings for her new home as well as a cot for her child and reached out to agencies to help with delivery. KEYS assisted with a car seat for her toddler so that the family could access their appointments and other needs in the community safely.

In order to ensure that the family didn’t fall through the cracks, KEYS contacted an agency who agreed to provide casework, parenting support and counselling. Eventually Amara contacted KEYS to explain that she no longer required casework or parenting support but was happy to continue receiving counselling support.

Amara was also concerned about her mother who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. KEYS contacted appropriate community services to provide help to her mum. Meals on Wheels and subsidised transport gave Amara comfort in knowing that her mother could get to her medical appointments and had access to hot meals.

As Amara began to feel more positive about her future, her support workers discussed setting some further goals with the family. Trusting other people with her child was difficult for Amara but she realised that the best way to achieve her goals would be to put her toddler into childcare during the week. This then allowed her to focus on her mental health with the longer-term goal of finding employment.

Having settled into her new home and with her child in a suitable early childcare centre, Amara felt much more positive and ready to work on her personal goals. Over time she began to feel more empowered and able to independently follow up with agencies such as Centrelink and negotiate with the childcare. Amara has acknowledged that the assistance she received from the KEYS Network has helped create a more positive future for her family

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of this client