The Costs of Alternative Care Arrangements Cannot be Ignored. 

News, Prevention & Strengthening | Posted May 2, 2024
The Costs of Alternative Care Arrangements Cannot be Ignored. 

Opinion piece by Dr Lisa J. Griffiths 

In addressing the profound challenges faced by our most vulnerable children and young people, relying on high-cost emergency accommodations (HCEA’s) such as hotels and motels is not just economically taxing—it is a disservice to the hearts and futures of those we aim to protect.  

As leaders, we must commit to trauma-informed, evidence-based care models that uphold the rights of children and young people. Only through such compassionate and informed approaches can we truly transform the lives of these vulnerable members of our community and foster a future where they thrive, not just survive. It is our duty to replace ineffective stopgaps with real solutions that heal and nurture. 

Delivering what works is a guiding principle at OzChild. The notion that it is no longer good enough for a child to only get what is available sees everyone at OzChild strive to give a child what is needed and what the evidence says works. 

We have been proactive in addressing the challenges of the child protection system through the delivery of evidence-based interventions that aim to keep families together or reunify families if children have been removed. 


One of the most successful interventions OzChild is committed to delivering is the Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) program, launched in NSW in 2019. The TFCO program is a specialised foster care model that draws on over four decades of international research and evidence. Its primary goal is to enhance positive behaviours in children and young people, facilitating their successful reunification with families and steering them away from less desirable high-cost emergency arrangements. 

Our commitment to doing more to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families, along with our desire to strengthen partnerships to support reform means we are eager to expand this program in areas of greatest need. Supporting the NSW Government to reduce the reliance on HCEA’s is a step we are ready to take. 

 Dr Lisa J. Griffiths 

Impact and Success of the TFCO Program 

Our experience and data affirm the TFCO program’s efficacy in significantly improving the lives of those who have been referred to the program. To date 30 children and young people have engaged with the program, with a remarkable 97% success rate.  

This figure translates to 29 children and young people transitioning from high-cost emergency arrangements or residential care into more stable, nurturing environments such as parental homes, foster, kinship care, or semi-independent living. 

Specifically, among these graduates, 15 were previously placed in emergency hotel and motel accommodations. Post-treatment, all 15 moved into lower levels of care, representing not only a more favourable outcome for each child but also a substantial cost avoidance estimated at $17.1 million. This shift also marks the cessation of their placements in hotels and motels, directly aligning with our goals and the NSW Government’s priorities. 

The program not only provides an immediate alternative to residential and emergency care but also serves as a time-bound intervention, with participants typically spending an average of 10 months in the program, receiving individualised specialist support before graduating. This structured timeframe ensures that interventions are both intensive and efficient, leading to timely and effective results. 


TFCO father and son

Ongoing Collaboration and Future Directions 

At OzChild, we value our partnership with the NSW Government’s Department of Communities and Justice immensely. Our collaborative efforts in sustaining and potentially expanding the TFCO program are crucial. We are committed to scaling up this initiative to accommodate more children and young people, thereby providing them with the care and support they need to thrive. 

With half of the program’s participants being First Nations children and young people, we are also mindful of the cultural sensitivities and specific needs of these communities, ensuring that our interventions are respectful and appropriately tailored. 

OzChild’s ongoing initiatives and the promising results of the TFCO program offer substantial hope and a clear pathway forward. Together with the NSW Government and our community partners, we are making a profound difference in the lives of children and young people, steering them away from precarious situations and towards brighter, more secure futures.  

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Acknowledgement of Country

OzChild acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We acknowledge their cultures are living ones, which relate to their ongoing connection to all things living and non-living on land, sea and sky.

We pay our respect to Elders past and present.

May the children of today lead us to a brighter tomorrow.

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