Free family counselling for residents and tourists, as well as Emiratis, will be available in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
The Family Care Authority has been established as the first point of contact for family counselling services in the emirate.
“The Family Care Authority offers its services to all citizens, residents, and visitors to Abu Dhabi,” FCA director-general, Bushra Al Mulla, told The National.
“The FCA's beneficiaries encompass family children, youth, women, men, senior citizens, people of determination, and individuals facing specific challenges.
“Our objectives are focused around serving as the central authority and contact point for free family-care services in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.”
The FCA, an affiliate of Abu Dhabi's Department of Community Development, will consolidate all counselling services and support to family members.
“Currently, each [family member] would go to a different entity, whether it is a rehabilitation centre or the family court for mediation,” Ms Al Mulla said.
“What we are doing is streamlining efforts, where there is one dedicated place that the entire family can go to and then we direct them on where to seek help. But even before that, we provide counselling.”
Ms Al Mulla said the FCA provides social and psychological counselling, integration programmes, support for caregivers, emergency support and temporary shelter, for residents and visitors as well as Emiratis.
These services address various social cases, including family disputes and social challenges faced by children, juveniles, and vulnerable groups.
Its new helpline to report cases has seen a sharp increase in calls since it was first established two weeks ago.
Ms Al Mulla said the FCA creates a family file to look into the issues across the entire family unit.
“We want to be the first point of entry and then look at the entire family,” Ms Al Mulla said.
“We know that there is always a root cause to a problem and we would like to investigate that.”
The authority has a team of licensed social workers who have recently completed additional courses in child protection.
Ms Al Mulla urged people to report any cases of abuse or neglect. The helpline phone number is 800444.
“There are many challenges but family conflict and violence are still the main challenges facing families. This is why it is crucial for residents to report abuse,” she said.
The FCA has replaced Dar Zayed for Family Care and has the same functions as the Abu Dhabi Police Social Support Centres and the social function of the entity, previously known as the Social Care and Minors' Affairs Foundation.
The Department of Community Development recently launched the Abu Dhabi Family Wellbeing Strategy, which aims to improve the quality of life in the emirate.
The strategy encompasses 30 initiatives and programmes designed to address the needs of families, from children and youth to parents, caregivers and the elderly.
“The strategy’s goal is to make a social impact by enhancing the quality of life of community members, promoting stronger family cohesion, and continuing to enhance the well-being of the elderly,” said Mugheer Al Khaili, chairman of the DCD.
“Additionally, it will also help support young people about to get married and provide them with the necessary skills needed to establish successful future families.”