This Foster Care Week we join in the call for carers to be supported with the basics such as birth certificates and Medicare cards, to be unburdened by the financial pressure to pay for health and education expenses that aren’t covered by the care allowance.
Early intervention key to better protect children and young people
A new report released today by Social Ventures Australia Limited (SVA Consulting) makes a strong economic case for long-term investment in targeted early intervention and intensive family preservation to prevent children entering out-of-home care (OOHC) in Victoria.
“Diverting children from out-of-home care, preserving family relationships and keeping kids with family is not only the right thing to do, it makes sound economic sense,” says Michelle Van Doorn, National Executive Director of Services, OzChild.
“The report paints a pretty clear picture, over a 10-year period Victoria can save $1.6 billion in the child protection and out-of-home care systems alone and divert 1,200 children a year from out-of-home care. It is imperative, through greater investment in early intervention strategies, for the system to evolve to ensure better outcomes for children and families,” adds Ms Van Doorn.
The number of children involved in the child protection and OOHC system in Victoria is increasing – both in terms of numbers of children as well as a percentage of the population. From 2013 to 2018, the number of children in OOHC increased 11% per year (SVA analysis. Compound annual growth rate of all children in OOHC, based on AIHW Child Protection Australia 2017-18).
The total cost of protective intervention and OOHC services in Victoria in 2017-18 was $943 million (Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2019, 2017-18 costs).
Creating safe and nurturing environments for young Victorians by supporting parents to better prepare them to care for and nurture their kids to prevent child abuse and neglect is imperative in turning the tide on the number of children receiving child protection services.
That is why, for the past five years OzChild has been working hard to implement evidence-based programs to address the growing number of children being placed in OOHC.
“OzChild has been delivering Multisystemic Therapy – Child Abuse and Neglect and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare in NSW as part of the Their Futures Matter strategy to overhaul the coordination and delivery of services to vulnerable children, young people and families.
Over the two years to 2017/18 the number of children entering out-of-home care in NSW has fallen by 44.5%. NSW now has the lowest rate of children and young people admitted to out-of-home care.
“There is no doubt in my mind the investment in evidence-based early intervention programs in NSW has contributed to these significant reductions, a greater investment here in Victoria would see similar results,” adds Ms Van Doorn.
In Victoria, the growth in OOHC is the fastest in the nation – a grim reality for the state which has endured the harshest and longest lockdowns. With more than 45,000 children already in OOHC across Australia, an additional 4,500 children are estimated to enter OOHC because of the pandemic – put simply, we do not have enough carers.
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