Children & Families Services

Family Support Services for children and families

Family support is a specialist service providing flexible, tailored support to the whole family. Staff and volunteers from these services provide opportunities for children and young people to become more involved in the community and make it possible for parents, brothers and sisters to enjoy fuller lives.

  Family Services

We do this through:

Using person–centred approaches, based on the hopes and aspirations of the child or young person and his / her family

Regular contact with parents to provide support, information and advice

Providing support to children and young people to attend youth groups and activities

Offering support groups and activities for brothers and sisters

Providing advice and training for the community to enable them to appreciate and welcome the children and young people we support.

You can access family support through your Social Worker from your local Trust. You can also use your personal budget or direct payment to purchase supports directly from us.

Location: Bangor, Lisburn and South East Fermanagh (Lisnaskea area).

Sharon and Sophie’s account of how they have experienced support by Positive Futures.

Read Rosemary and Oisin’s story, “Ending the isolation”, for an example of what a difference these services make:

“I knew my son Oisin was a Down’s syndrome baby before he was born and that there were a lot of things wrong with him, including heart and kidney problems. The scans suggested he wouldn’t survive for long. But nearly two decades later, I see him as my “boy wonder”.

That’s not to say he didn’t have endless health problems. I was always running back and forth to the hospital. My other children were just brilliant being there for him (and me), singing to him for hours, doing physio, even CPR. But they had their own lives and so eventually it was just Oisin and me.

It took its toll on us. I felt so isolated. Home didn’t have any bars but it was my prison.

Then a social worker mentioned Positive Futures. We’d been let down before by organisations who would say, “Oh yes we can do this and that for you and Oisin” – we would get our hopes up and when they didn’t happen, for whatever reason, it left us feeling even worse – so, I admit my first thought was “Here we go again!”

But when the girls from Positive Futures walked through my door, it was like a breath of fresh air. They were so dedicated and helpful. Before long, my Oisin was going canoeing, doing arts, crafts, trampolining; all sorts of activities filled his calendar. They even had Independence Skills courses.

I could see him becoming more confident. Best of all, he was learning to socialise and make friends. That was the part of his life that had been missing.

Positive Futures has been good for me, too. It has helped me find the independent woman that I once was. I have found support in a group of wonderful people who understand so well about our lives – people who care about me and my son.”

Autism Outreach Service for children and young people

Our Autism Outreach Service is for children and young people (aged 4–18) with an autistic spectrum condition who live in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) area. The service supports children and young people to help realise their dreams and ambitions including participating in community activities. In so doing, parents get a break from their caring responsibilities.

Our Support Worker will visit approximately every 2 weeks (exact frequency will depend on individual need and resource availability).

Our Support Worker will:

Develop, alongside the child, or young person, and family, a person centred plan which will identify individual needs and aspirations and how these can best be met.

Identify and support age appropriate social and play activities for children, using applicable developmental and sensory tools, in an individual or group setting.

Support the development of social, communication, advocacy and life skills in young people. Provide opportunities for children, young people and parents to become more involved in the ‘everyday’ by accessing community activities and developing friendships.

Provide parents with practical and emotional support as well as information and advice.

Provide programmes of activities during school holidays which include siblings.

Build resilience and peer support through the development of a parent network.

Location: Fermanagh, Omagh and Derry/Londonderry

Read Erin & Ronan’s stories for examples of the difference this service makes:

Erin’s Story

Ronan’s Story

Brighter Futures

Brighter Futures is a family support project covering the Fermanagh area which aims to help families with a child between the ages of 0–12 that has a disability.

For more information, go to our Special Projects section.


Ferns Residential Children’s Service

The Ferns Residential Children’s Service in Coleraine is a ground–breaking 24/7 support service which provides a homely environment for up to four young people with a learning disability. It has an atmosphere of warmth, stability and security in which the young people can grow and develop, building up their social skills and making the best of their gifts and talents.

Living as part of the community also promotes a sense of inclusion.

The service is provided in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and is registered with the RQIA as a children’s home. It is run by a Service Manager with a dedicated team of social workers and support staff.

Young people leaving the service at 18 may go on to be supported by our Supported Living Service, also in Coleraine.

Location: Coleraine