More homes will be available for young people unable to live with their birth families in regional South Australia, with DCP set to expand its residential care services in the Riverland and Limestone Coast.

The department has partnered with country agency ac.care to provide the first 24/7 residential care home in Berri, as well as an additional home in Mount Gambier for young people in care when family-based care options such as foster and kinship care are not available.

Up to six young people, aged 10 to 18, will be accommodated across the two new homes – part of ac.care’s child and youth residential care services – with 24/7 staff trained to provide stability, safety and support under a therapeutic care model.

Department for Child Protection Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ward said although family-based care was preferable for most children and young people, providing accommodation in the local communities of children and young people was important when other options were not available.

“Providing caring, therapeutic, home-like environments for children and young people close to where they live, when family-based care isn’t available, is a priority for the department and our partners,” Ms Ward said.

“Young people from country towns can have a particularly strong connection to place and social networks through their school, extended family and recreational activities, so having this local accommodation allows us to better support them to maintain those connections, as well as their wellbeing.

“We know this connection to community, culture and Country is particularly important for Aboriginal children and young people.

“We are pleased to be working alongside ac.care to provide these extra residential care homes in regional parts of the state.”

The residential care service provides young people with a safe therapeutic environment until they are able to transition into a longer-term living arrangement, such as foster or kinship care or an independent living program.

ac.care Chief Executive Officer Shane Maddocks said the organisation was looking for 12 new child and youth workers to staff the Riverland home on rostered shifts, as well as additional staff to support new and existing services in Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge.

“ac.care works with foster carers across the Riverland and other regions who provide home-based family placements for vulnerable young people, but we recognised more opportunities were needed to provide safe homes and positive relationships for children and young people in care,” Mr Maddocks said.

“The residential care services expansion gives us more options to provide local children and young people with a safe, caring place to live and we are really looking forward to recruiting local people to provide this care to the young people.”

Once the residential care expansion is complete, ac.care will operate five homes in Mount Gambier, two in Murray Bridge and one in the Riverland, providing care for about 25 children and young people.

ac.care is seeking child and youth workers with existing experience in the sector or a Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention and encouraged applications from other professional disciplines such as education, disability, social sciences and health.

To find out more about these job opportunities, visit accare.org.au/careers or call 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273).