Stretch-A-Family Inc. was an adolescent fostering and residential care provider for children aged seven to 18. It was founded in 1976, as part of the Young People's Refuge. In 1984 the two programs split and Stretch-A-Family set up its own supported accommodation program, On Track, in 1994. In 2020, Stretch-A-Family stopped providing residential care, and in 2021, closed completely.
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 now known as The Girls Refuge. SAF continued to operate as a fostering and residential care agency for adolescents at risk of homelessness. In 1994, a program called On Track started under SAF's auspice, working with young people aged fifteen to eighteen to provide residential care and preparation for independent living.
In 2020, the out-of-home care residential services delivered by Stretch-A-Family were transferred to The Burdekin Association. In 2021, the SAF permanency support program was transferred to Key Assets Australia and Stretch-A-Family ceased to operate.
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; Stretch-A-Family Inc website, accessed 2022: https://www.stretchafamily.com.au/.
Prepared by: Melissa Downing and Naomi Parry
Created: 21 March 2011, Last modified: 26 August 2022