NSW Budget fails to deliver a genuine boost to early support for at-risk families

The NSW Government’s 2015-16 Budget has not delivered the much-needed investment in support for vulnerable families to protect children and prevent child removal, says Greens MP and spokesperson on Family and Community Services and Housing.

“The Budget papers show that the Government still isn’t taking sufficient action to address the major challenges facing disadvantaged and vulnerable people in this state,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that the Family and Community Services budget didn’t deliver a genuine boost to early intervention services, while the number of children and young people placed in out-of-home care has continued to rise higher than forecast.

“The Government should take no pride in its increase to the out-of-home care budget, which was required because the number of children in care has risen sharply with nearly 20,000 children and young people in care,” Ms Barham said.

“Although adequate funding of out-of-home care and support for foster carers is essential, the Government needs to put more investment into supporting at-risk families before they reach the point where child removal becomes necessary.

“The Budget has again failed to deliver a major boost to the services that would target at-risk families and prevent abuse and neglect.

“The Budget Papers have clouded the Family and Community Services funding by transferring the Office of Communities and their general community grants across from the Education cluster.

“It appears that the Government has opted for smoke and mirrors rather than delivering a genuine boost to the targeted programs that would help to keep children safe at home, and would reduce the pressure on the child protection and out-of-home care systems.”

Ms Barham warned that the Government’s focus on open adoption would only assist a small number of children in care and that a broader emphasis on building a system that supported all children and families was required.

“Children and young people who enter the out-of-home care system often face disadvantage and risk as they transition into adulthood. Many children face homelessness, involvement in the justice system and other problems when they leave care. More needs to be done to support them at that vulnerable time.

“The Government must do more to prevent children entering into the system, and to ensure that all children who are unable to be restored to their families have the opportunity and support to make a successful transition into independent adulthood,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891