Stretch-A-Family Inc., in Marrickville, is an accredited adolescent fostering and residential care provider for children aged seven to 18 who need out of home care. It was founded in 1976, as part of the Young People's Refuge. In 1984 the two programmes split and Stretch-A-Family set up its own supported accommodation programme, On Track, in 1994. In 2020 Stretch-A-Family stopped providing out of home care, and these services were transferred to The Burdekin Association.
Stretch-A-Family Incorporated had its origins in the 'Young People's Refuge' (YPR) which was opened in Chippendale as a youth crisis centre on 24 February 1976. It was established as an alternative to the services offered by the State Government and traditional care providers, such as the churches. Initially viewed as a radical alternative, the refuge struggled to obtain funding for its operations. Within a short time of opening, the refuge moved to North Sydney, and also operated in Manly for a while. To combat concerns that the needs of children under sixteen years who were coming to the refuge were not being met, the Stretch-A-Family (SAF) scheme began operating with the placement of some under sixteen year olds in voluntary foster families.
At the end of 1984, SAF and YPR agreed to a mutual separation. YPR moved to separate premises and still operates as a crisis refuge for young women. SAF continued to operate as a professional fostering agency for adolescents. In 1991, the agency broadened its criteria to include young people with case plans other than fostering. The agency has also developed its skills in working with young people and their families with the eventual goal of family restoration where this is in the best interests of the young person. SAF also continues to offer residential care for homeless youth aged twelve to sixteen in the medium-term house at Stanmore. Since 1994, a program called On Track has operated under SAF's auspice, working with young people aged fifteen to eighteen to provide residential care and preparation for independent living. The On Track program closed in 2020 when SAF stopped providing out of home care.
Sources used to compile this entry: Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf.
Prepared by: Melissa Downing and Naomi Parry
Created: 21 March 2011, Last modified: 28 May 2021