“An Auditor General report released today shows that the NSW Government is still failing to meet its obligations to children and young people at risk of serious harm and those in out-of-home care”, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Family and Community Services.
“The report shows that while there has been some improvement in the monitoring of foster care placements, the Department of Family and Community Services is still not meeting key requirements designed to keep children safe.
“Although there has been a marked improvement in the number of annual placement reviews of children in out-of-home care, 23.5% of placements went without a review in 2014/15.
“This raises the question as to whether the Department is adequately resourced to meet its legislated requirement to conduct one review every 12 months for these vulnerable children and young people.”
Ms Barham also commented on the report’s findings about caseworker assessment of children reported at risk.
“The number of face-to-face assessments for children at risk of serious harm remains disappointingly low, with only 28% receiving a face-to-face response from a caseworker.
“These assessments have hovered around 26% and 28% since 2013, suggesting that more resources are needed to improve contact with the 73,432 children and young people reported at risk of serious harm.
“The low rate of face-to-face assessments and annual placement reviews calls into question whether there are enough caseworkers funded to meet the Government’s child protection obligations. Only 5% of caseworker vacancies went unfilled in 2014/15, yet there remain significant shortfalls in placement reviews and face-to-face assessments.”
“Even if all caseworker vacancies were filled, the figures suggest that the Department would still be grossly under-resourced to fulfil its responsibilities to children and young people in the child protection system.
“The NSW Government must boost resources to the Department of Family and Community Services so it can meet its obligations to keep children and young people safe from harm. However, more needs to be done to curb the high number of children entering the child protection system in the first place. The NSW Government must invest in early intervention and support services to better support families and prevent abuse and neglect, and alleviate pressure on an overburdened child protection system,” Ms Barham said.
For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891