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A Time to Invest in Australia's most disadvantaged children, young people and their families

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Note: Do these groups invest, or do they make money out of Australia's most disadvantaged children, young people and their families

Current CAFWAA Members
Abused Child Trust Inc
Anglicare - WA
Anglicare NT - The Depot program
Anglicare SA
Anglicare Victoria
Association of Childrens Welfare
Barnardos Australia
Benevolent Society
Berry Street Victoria
Carries Place Co-op
Centacare Catholic Family Services
Centacare Catholic Family Services
Centacare Tasmania
Centacare Wagga Wagga
Centre for Excellence in Child and
Family Welfare
Child & Family Services - Ballarat
Child & Family Welfare Association of
Tasmania Inc.
Child, Youth & Family Agencies of
Children’s Youth & Family Agencies
Association (WA)
Churches of Christ Care
CREATE Foundation
Glastonbury Child & Family Services
Glenhaven Family Care Inc
Kildonan Child & Family Services
Kilmany Family Care
Lifeline Community Care - Families
Lifeline Community Care Queensland
Families Plus
Lisa Lodge - Hayeslee
Lutanda Children's Homes
MacKillop Family Services
Marist Youth Care
Marymead Child & Family Centre
Menzies Incorporated
Mercy Community Services
Mission Australia
Northern Parenting Resource Centre
(Northern District CHS)
Oz Child - Children Australia
Parkerville Children and Youth Care
Save the Children Fund - Queensland
Secretariat National Aboriginal
Islander Child Care
Secretariat National Aboriginal
Islander Child Care

The problems experienced by children, young people and families are too often compounded by poor quality, and at best patchy service responses.

Reform of Australia's child and family welfare system requires a comprehensive, strategic and long term planning approach, by all levels of government, non-government agencies and the community itself.

A Time to Invest paints a picture of how we might establish opportunities to empower and enrich Australia's families and children.

A Time to Invest was launched by Larry Anthony MP Minister for Children and Youth on 2nd September 2002 at the ACWA/CAFWAA Conference.


A Time to Invest
in Australia’s most disadvantaged children,
young people and their families
Page 2
Introduction: a blueprint for reform 4
Purpose and context of A Time to Invest 6
1. Promoting stability and permanence for children and young people 7
2. Investing in family strengths and prevention programs 15
3. Actively supporting kinship care 19
4. Development and support of foster carers 22
5. The need for a range of services for children and young people 26
   with complex needs
6. Educational needs of children and young people in out of home care 30
7. Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 33
8. A new response to refugee children 37
9. Building service quality: practice standards, quality assurance 40
   and continuous quality improvement
Commitment to non-government sector sustainability 45
CAFWAA member organisations 51
Notes 52
Appendices: available from
Appendix One
Family Law Council Discussion Paper No. 2. The Best Interests of the
Child? The Interaction of Public and Private Law in Australia. Appendix
B — Child Protection Matrix 2000
Appendix Two
Risk and Protective Factors associated with Antisocial & Criminal
Appendix Three
Summary of Major Prevention Programs Evaluation
Appendix Four
Summary of Cost Benefit Analysis of Programs Surveyed in FACS Policy
Research Paper No. 11
Appendix Five
Components of a Community Service Industry Plan
A Time to Invest — 1
About CAFWAA: the Child and
Family Welfare Association of
The Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia (CAFWAA) is the national
peak body representing community service organisations in all states and territories.
These agencies work with children, young people and their families, where child
neglect and abuse is a major factor in determining the types of services provided.
Member organisations offer a range of services including family support and pre-
ventative services, out of home care and related services. Membership also includes
all State-level peak bodies responsible to these community service organisations for
policy and professional practice development, information provision and advocacy
in relation to this specific area, or the broader community services sector.
Australia-wide links of such individuals and community service organisations go
back to the early 1970s. Consolidation of the value of these links was realised with
the incorporation of CAFWAA in 1995.
The primary interests and resourcing of organisations in this sector are governed by
state legislation and authorities, however, many areas of federal government policy
directly affect the welfare of children and families, such as income maintenance,
homelessness programs, crime prevention, suicide prevention and family law. In
addition, significant policy development and funding opportunities occur at the
national level although, like family support, they may be administered by state gov-
CAFWAA’s objectives are to:
• Inform national policy development and advocate for national policies and
initiatives that will address the needs of children and young people at-risk,
and their families.
• Provide advocacy, support and information for non-government service
providers and the community at large, with respect to the provision of
appropriate and effective services for children and young people at risk,
together with their families.
• Promote family support, community development and other preventative
programs which aim to appropriately maintain children and young people
within a family network and enhance parental care and responsibility.
• Promote and undertake research into the needs of children and young peo-
ple at risk, their families and service providers in the industry sector.
• Promote, support and undertake the provision of appropriate training and
skills development for those working in the industry sector.
• Promote and facilitate the development of national standards of service
• Support and assist in the development of state and territory associations of
child and family welfare service providers.
• Form links with relevant overseas bodies and national organisations.
• Undertake other activities which support the above objectives.
2 — CAFWAA policy document
CAFWAA comprises members of community service organisations and individuals
committed to the principles and objectives of the association, together with repre-
sentation from the following State peak bodies, and the national SNAICC and CRE-
ATE Foundation.
Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (NSW)
PeakCare Queensland
Child & Family Welfare Association of South Australian
Child & Family Welfare Association of Tasmania
Child, Youth and Family Agencies of the ACT
Children’s Welfare Association of Victoria
Children’s Youth & Family Agencies Association (WA)
Child and Family Welfare Association (NT)
CAFWAA is affiliated with:
The International Organisations Asia Pacific Forum on Families
(APFAM) Australia
The International Forum for Child Welfare (IFCW)
Coalition for Australia’s Children.
CAFWAA is a founding member of Families Australia which has provided invalu-
able support in the development of this policy paper.
CAFWAA acknowledges the contributions made by several people and organisations
to ensuring that A Time to Invest shifted from a good idea to a finalised project.
Families Australia provided the opportunity, through financial support, to undertake
this initiative.
Sherrie Coote and the Children’s Welfare Association of Victoria have been respon-
sible for preparing the material for the report under the guidance of the CAFWAA
Board and a committee comprising of Ken Patterson and Coleen Clare from CWAV,
Jane Hague of RAPT, Margaret Matters of Anglicare Victoria, Marion Rainsford of
Clarendon Children and Family Services, Sue Tregeagle of Barnardos Australia and
Simon Schrapel from Anglicare SA. Robyn Douglass of Anglicare SA was respon-
sible for the final editing, layout and printing of the report.
A Time to Invest — 3
Introduction: a blueprint for
The problems experienced by children, young people and families are too often com-
pounded by poor quality, and at best patchy service responses.
Reform of Australia’s child and family welfare system requires a comprehensive,
strategic and long term planning approach, by all levels of government, non-govern-
ment agencies and the community itself.
A Time to Invest paints a picture of how we might establish opportunities to empow-
er and enrich Australia’s families and children.
It outlines a series of targeted planning and actions to be taken across a number of
dimensions of our service systems. A Time to Invest is an ambitious and far reaching
strategy for reform, which will benefit the whole of the Australian community.
Underpinning the directions and actions espoused are four fundamental commit-
ments which the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia considers to be
essential to the reform of child and family wellbeing in Australia.
• A pre-eminent focus on promoting and supporting families in the care and
nurture of children. Contemporary research clearly demonstrates that a
whole-of-community approach which invests in the early years from 0–6
years avoids financially costly services later in life. Governments in
Canada and the UK have embraced this evidence with full scale whole-of-
government approaches, with targeted outcomes. Long-term comprehen-
sive early intervention and prevention resources within a community
development framework will, over time, lead to a diminution of resources
required for remedial services, and at the same time provide a stronger,
healthier, more active and contributing society.
• Ensuring improved permanency planning and stability in care for children
unable to remain living at home.
• Improving the quality of out of home care and family preservation servic-
es through the establishment of national standards and accreditation.
Resources need to be used in the best way possible. Much is known about
what works in the field of child and family welfare. Standards and accred-
itation exist for many other service types, such as aged care, health and
child care services. Similar requirements of services for the vulnerable
members of our community are imperative to ensure good outcomes, and
money well spent.
• Ensuring that the most disadvantaged children are assisted as a priority.
These are children in poverty and distress, suffering abuse and neglect,
with complex needs, and Aboriginal and refugee children.
A Time to Invest provides an opportunity to make a real and substantial difference to
the quality of life for all Australians, and in particular, to the most vulnerable mem-
bers of our society.
CAFWAA’s vision for family policy is that of ensuring stable, nurturing, and life
enhancing experiences for the most disadvantaged children. Our vision is for State,
4 — CAFWAA policy document
Territory and Commonwealth Governments to work in concert. There are 115,471 1
children at risk of separation from their families (2001 notifications of abuse or neg-
lect in Australia).
Our vision is for all children to be given opportunities to reach their potential as indi-
viduals and contributors to a healthy, productive community. Our vision requires:
• all families to be well supported in their nurturing and family management
• access to adequate housing and income
• access to meaningful education
• access to employment (paid and unpaid) — the basis for full community
Where alternatives are required for children who cannot live at home with their fam-
ilies, they should have access to:
• a full range of services and supports
• kinship care
• foster care, permanent care or open adoption that is well managed, sup-
ported and resourced
• additional supports: education, health, alcohol and drug, mental health and
disability services
that will enable them to become resilient and thrive to become sound citizens.
Children in care need quality services, not the poorly supported and under-resourced
services we have today.
We need to apply standards and quality strategies for all organisations caring for chil-
We need viable foster care with carers who are properly reimbursed and supported.
We need forward-looking government policy with proactive support for sustainable
partnerships between the community services and government sectors.
A Time to Invest — 5
Purpose and context of A Time
to Invest
This paper outlines the major policy issues which CAFWAA believes
Commonwealth and State Governments need to address. They are urgent issues.
Neglect of these issues leads to further disadvantage for the most vulnerable children
in Australia, that is, those suffering abuse and neglect and removal from their fami-
lies. In later life, this disadvantage is manifested in substance and alcohol abuse,
homelessness, young parenthood. It results in greater demands upon social service,
juvenile justice and adult corrections systems.
Neglect of these children’s well-being is costly to the Australian community.
The paper has three major functions:
1. To document, from the perspective of CAFWAA members, the policy pri-
orities to be pursued at the national and state levels. These policies will
enhance the well-being of children and young people at-risk and their fam-
ilies, which will be of benefit to the whole community.
2. To advocate for change in public policy at the Commonwealth and
state/territory level and to seek an improved investment in child and fam-
ily welfare services across Australia.
3. To inform and encourage debate about policy and practice in child and
family welfare.
CAFWAA seeks to pursue the issues outlined in this policy paper as a matter of pri-
ority. In some instances, CAFWAA will be a lead agency in advocating policy debate
and change but, in other instances, will seek to progress matters in collaboration with
others, including Families Australia.
It is acknowledged that other issues and policies not canvassed in this paper are also
likely to influence outcomes for children and families. Their exclusion from this pol-
icy paper does not imply that CAFWAA will not advocate on these issues/policies in
the future.
6 — CAFWAA policy document
1. Promoting stability and
permanence for children and
young people
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:
• establish or review permanency planning legislation and resource inten-
sive case work in the early stages of professional intervention with fami-
lies to maximise the opportunity for children and young people to live
with their birth family
• adopt effective case management systems. It should be noted that Looking
After Children has already been adopted by many non-government agen-
cies and state and territory governments
• adequately fund family support and home-based care services to enable
them to undertake intensive case work practice with birth families,
towards reunification where possible
• implement best practice permanency planning principles for children and
young people who have to be in care
• expand funding to the Family Support Program currently implemented by
the states/territories to meet community demand and ensure complemen-
tary targeting of other programs, including the Commonwealth
Government’s ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’ strategy to at-
risk families
• develop respite care and mentoring programs for socially disadvantaged
children and young people
• universally recognise leaving care/after-care as a relevant program com-
ponent of the out of home care system and ensure staffing, brokerage,
programs and leaving care grants are adequately resourced
• establish leaving care/after-care policy and procedures which are flexible
and work with the individual young person and if necessary, provide con-
tinuing support up to 25 years of age
• greatly increase the numbers of older age adoptions.
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
• establish minimum standards for States/Territories to record and report
child protection notification, investigation and substantiation rates for
national comparison.
• support open adoption programs through funding and research
• promote and resource mentoring and respite care programs for those with
social disadvantage
• promote effective case management and data collection.
• promote research into which out of home care and child protection serv-
ices currently in operation are effective in Australia.
Neglected and abused children in Australia need permanence to ensure that disad-
vantage does not compound throughout their life. Family policy needs to address per-
manency planning, that is, “the systematic process of carrying out, within a time-lim-
ited period, a set of directed activities designed to ensure children live with nurtur-
A Time to Invest — 7
ing parents or caregivers who offer continuity and the opportunity for lifetime rela-
Permanency planning principles underpin children and young people’s right to grow
up with a clear emotional and legal family identity. Children need a sense of identi-
ty and belonging, stability and continuity of relationships and emotional attachment
for the development of positive self-esteem and well-being.
The primary goal of permanency planning is to prevent breakdown in the family of
origini, and support families so that parent/s’ caring capacity is enhanced. However,
despite intensive support services to birth parents, some children will require an
alternate permanent family. The length of time taken to elect for permanency plan-
ning decision-making needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, with due
regard to the age of the child.
Prevention is better than cure:
permanency planning for children
The most significant aspect of permanency planning is the identification and support
of high risk families before they come to the attention of intrusive child protection
services. Australia is currently experiencing a rise in child protection notifications
and re-notification rates also continue to rise. The following table lists the number of
child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations in Australia over the
past decade. Unfortunately, re-notification rates are not systematically collected.
1991 1992 1993 1994 -93 -94 -95 1995 1996 1997 -92 -98 1998 -2000 2000
                                -96c -97a -99b -01d
n.a n.a n.a n.a 91,734 n.a 98,568 103,980 107,134 115,471
Investigations 53,296 59,122 74,436 76,954 67,816 n.a 61,452 58,717 56,083 54,286
Substantiations 21,371 25,630 28,711 30,615 25,558 n.a 26,025 25,447 24,732 27,367
a) National total for the year 1996-97 could not be calculated as no data was available from NSW for
this period.
b) An estimate using 6 months of data for Northern Territory was used to form the national year figure
for the year 1998-99. Note: Data on the number of notifications were not collected prior to 1995/96.
c) Note the New Directions Policy of Western Australia (1995-96) which changed the classification of
some notifications to one of family support, thus decreasing total notifications recorded.
d) In 2000-01, the classification of notifications in South Australia was changed to exclude reports that
did not meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion due of child abuse or neglect.
Sourced from : AIHW 2001c and AIHW Child Protection Australia 2000-01 Tables 2.2, 2.3, 2.4.
Trends indicate a steady increase in the number of notifications since data has been
collected, but with the substantiation rate reaching a peak in 1994–95ii. There were
115,471 notifications in 2000–01, of which 53% did not receive further investigation.
The remaining 47% of notifications received investigation, of which half resulted in
or natural family
though a downward trend is apparent in investigations, some states are currently
experiencing increases. For example, in NSW the number of notifications was 40,937 to
7501 substantiations in 2000-01
8 — CAFWAA policy document
substantiation by protective services. What is of concern is the level and growing
number of families that remain without additional support, even though welfare con-
cerns have been sufficient to refer to protective services. CAFWAA is concerned that
governments are moving too slowly to address and implement prevention programs
to stem the need for intrusive child protection intervention.
Also of significant concern are the high rates of subsequent renotification to child
protection services, indicating that families are not receiving the services needed to
address initial welfare concerns and prevent renotifications.
The Report on Government Services 2002—Productivity Report3 did not provide
comparable data across jurisdictions on resubstantiation rates. However, the report
provided information at the 3- and 12-month periods after the initial substantiation
for all states except Northern Territory. The trend to increased renotification rates for
all states is concerning.
Proportion of children subject to re-substantiations after initial substantiation in
Proportion of children subject to a re-substantiation NSW
Within three months after an initial substantiation
Within 12 months after an initial substantiation
Vic Qld WA SA Tas
3.6% 2.9% 9.0% 4.9% 15.4% 8.9%
10.2% 14.0% 22.6% 10.5% 23.9% 16.5%
Source: Adapted from Report on Government Services 2002 Table 15A.10
CWAV 4 recently conducted a survey on the availability of family support services.
The survey found that 50% of families requesting family support services in August
2001 were placed on waiting lists due to a chronic lack of government funding. Only
7% of families were on waiting lists for less than two weeks. Of the remaining 93%,
more than half were kept waiting up to five weeks despite the fact that we know
appropriate help at the time of crisis can prevent later problems. Improved access to
support services for families experiencing parenting and life crises will prevent noti-
fications to child protection services. Support services to families require significant
investment of funds to adequately address current demands. Further funding is essen-
tial to develop prevention programs that are easily accessible for families at the first
point of need.
Also, there is a small but significant number of families who need long term (the
duration of childhood) formal support services to prevent re-entry to protective serv-
ices and/or placement system. To respond to these families’ needs, continuity of gov-
ernment resources is a critical issue to permanency planning principles of service
delivery, longevity of service involvement and long-term family well-being.
Parental drug use
Parental drug use is one of the most serious issues confronting the child welfare sec-
tor in the past 20 years. Parental drug use is bringing more children to the attention
A Time to Invest — 9
of protective services and into care. Permanency planning is critical to support reuni-
fication of children and their birth parents (where possible), or with relatives/kin
where reunification with birth parents is clearly not an option. Future trends of
parental drug use are likely to continue to adversely affect out of home care, with an
increasing number of children requiring specialised, long-term care supports.
Drift in out of home care
CAFWAA is concerned about the number of children who continue to drift in the
child welfare system, either bouncing from home to placement or languishing in mul-
tiple placements without clear reunification or decision-making in permanent place-
ment plans.
CAFWAA notes with concern the number of placement changes that children and
young people are experiencing. The Productivity Commission Report5 states that the
majority of children leaving care after less than 12 months had only one placement.
However, the proportion of children leaving care in 2000–01 after 12 months or more
who had experienced more than one placement is disturbing.
The following table depicts nationally the number of different care placements for
Children leaving care after 12 months or more, by number of
different care placements, 2000–01
4+ Placements
2-3 Placements
1 Placement
Source: Report on Government Services 2002. Productivity Report, Figure 15.8
Outcomes for children and young people who do not have a sense of permanency are
poor. Research conducted by Cashmore and Paxman7 found that young people who
had spent 75% of their time in care in one placement had generally positive out-
10 — CAFWAA policy document
comes. They comment further on the impact of lack of permanence or continuity that
children often experience in substitute care as they move through a series of place-
ments. This concern is well based, as their research (and others) has substantiated the
ill effects to children of the lack of continuity of caregivers. Effects include suicide,
depression, teenage pregnancy, involvement in crime and difficulties in parenting the
next generation.
Permanency planning is accepted as a philosophy and practice within the sector,
although some caution is advised about any solution which may appear too simple8.
Permanency planning is not an end in itself. However, inherent in the child welfare
system are a number of barriers which work against permanency planning for chil-
dren who have experienced complex problems, neglect and/or abuse, serious behav-
ioural difficulties, special needs and multiple placement moves within the system.
These barriers include:
• lack of access to family support services at the early stages of family
stress, which can prevent children being notified to protective services
and/or moving into out of home care
• the current difficulties inherent in the legal system which balance the
rights and feelings of birth parents against the needs of developing chil-
• initial placements of children in care are often not adequately case planned
or resourced to provide early support, including both therapeutic and prac-
tical services to work immediately towards reunification with families of
• a focus on making placements to meet immediate demands rather than
meeting the placement needs which are in the best interests of the
child/young person iii
• lack of permanency planning legislation in all jurisdictions, and even
when in place, lack of implementation iv
• lack of active use of adoption (particularly open adoption) for children
requiring permanent care. In some jurisdictions there is no legislative base
for open adoption
• lack of other legal forms of permanence for children and young people
• practice that is non-inclusive of the birth parent/family, which can lead to
delayed permanent placementsv
• the ease with which court orders can be varied, and the length of time
taken in court to finalise such matters. Dealing with the uncertainty can be
stressful, even traumatic for the children. Secure placements can be desta-
bilised by birth parents seeking a variation (note: some states have legis-
lation to address this issue. NSW has new legislation through the
Permanency Planning Amendment Act 2001.)
• lack of co-ordination between the Supported Accommodation Assistance
Program (SAAP) system and the out of home care system — sometimes
LAC case management framework addresses this issue
ivAppendix One: Family Law Council, Discussion Paper No.2. The Best Interest of the
Child? The Interaction of Public and Private Law in Australia. Appendix B – Child
Protection Matrix 2000 (at 1 September 2000)
v The LAC case management framework addresses this issue
A Time to Invest — 11
the same children are moving between these systems; and finally,
• a dearth of resources for carers, including inadequate access to case work
supports. Practical supports which would support permanent placement
include: adequate reimbursement, relief from constant care, regular respite
and other practical services.
Permanency planning principles
For permanency planning practice to be effective it must work within a legislative
framework which embodies the following features9:
• a philosophical perspective that regards the birth family or extended fam-
ily as the preferred environment for child rearing. Hence, resources are
invested in families to maximise the possibility of a child staying at home
or returning to home
• a theoretical perspective which stresses stability and continuity of rela-
tionships to promote a child’s development, functioning and sense of well-
being and identity. When reunification is not achieved in the timeframe
appropriate to the child’s age and development, the best interests of the
child are jeopardised
• a planned program, designed for each child at-risk of needing alternative
care or for children who are in care, focusing on systematic planning with-
in specified time frames
• a case management perspective emphasising strategies such as reviews,
time limited contracts and casework with birth parents involving them in
active plans, ongoing problem solving and decision making vi
• a collaborative perspective between the various organisations and govern-
ment, family and others who have a role in the lives of children/young
people and their families vi
• better support for foster carers.
Consideration needs to be given to open adoption and other forms of legal perma-
nence. Rates of adoption of older age children in Australia are low, yet there are
many children in uncertain long- and medium-term foster care. In the period
2000–01 10, the majority (74%) of known child adoptionsviii were of children aged
5–14 years; (7%) aged 1–4 years and (19%) aged 15 years and over. Some research11
is clear that open adoption is a better solution than even stable long term foster care,
although not necessarily appropriate in all cases.
Open adoption for older children includes an ongoing contact between children and
their birth families. If well planned and properly resourced, open adoption is a better
solution than having the child drifting in the care system, or with uncertain legal sta-
tus. In NSW, the Find a Family program averages 10 open adoptions each year, for
vii ibid
viiiKnown child adoptions are adoptions of children in Australia where the adoptive parents
are seeking to adopt a particular child who is known to them, including step-parent, other
relative(s) or carers
12 — CAFWAA policy document
young people with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances. Currently, there
is inadequate legal provision for older age open adoption across Australia ix and even
where legislation is in place, lack of resources means adoption is not actively pur-
Current research and practices indicate that the processes to make permanency plan-
ning a reality are not occurring. CAFWAA believes that the principles of permanen-
cy planning need to be foremost in protection and care decision making and service
delivery. Permanency planning will maximise opportunities for children and young
people to live with nurturing adults who can provide continuity and the opportunity
for lifetime relationships. The ideal lifetime relationship option is with the child’s
birth family, but where this is not in the child’s best interests, consideration of rela-
tive/kinship care, before consideration of long term foster care (with the possibility
of open adoption) should be actively pursued within a time limited period to avoid
drift in care, and multiple placements.
Post-care and leaving care
Mendes12 comments that young people leaving state care are arguably one of the
most vulnerable groups in society, because many of them have
• experienced and are still recovering from considerable abuse and neglect
before entering care
• experienced inadequacies in state care, including systems abuse
• little, if any, direct family support or other community networks to ease
their movement into independent living after care
• experienced an abrupt end to the formal support networks of state care (at
16–18 years of age).
Numerous international and national studies have documented the traumas common-
ly experienced by young people leaving state care; and these include
• homelessness
• abuse of drugs and alcohol
• predisposition to mental health problems
• poor educational and employment outcomes
• poor social support systems and social isolation
• juvenile prostitution
• early parenthood
• involvement in criminal activities.
CAFWAA and the CREATE Foundation both support the use of a ‘continuum of care
model’ recommended by the Victorian study Improving Outcomes for Young People
Leaving Care13.
This model incorporates positive corporate parenting and permanency planning to
adulthood, and the key ingredients are:
ixAppendix One: Family Law Council, Discussion Paper No.2. The Best Interest of the
Child? The Interaction of Public and Private Law in Australia. Appendix B – Child
Protection Matrix 2000 (at 1 September 2000)
A Time to Invest — 13
• legislative framework for adequate preparation and after care support
(NSW has such legislation)
• underpinning policy which recognises government and organisations act
in loco parentis for children and young people out of their families. There
is an ongoing parental responsibility to provide support to young people
when they leave home in the same way that parents support their children
when they leave the nest.
• a transition period of leaving care is needed, rather than an abrupt ending.
Sudden eviction from care at age 18 does not reflect normal moves
towards independence in the community
• policies should outline preparation for independence, such as the provi-
sion of education and training in life skills, while the young person is still
in care
• a standard to guide common practice (Looking After Children has a com-
prehensive leaving care preparation checklist of life skills)
• access to mentoring and peer support programs for young people in tran-
sition to inter-dependence/independent living
• government measurement of outcomes against benchmarks.
14 — CAFWAA policy document
2. Investing in family strengths
and prevention programs
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth and state/territory governments to:

substantially increase their investment in early intervention and preven-
tion programs which support families. A long-term national vision which
puts children first is needed. With adequate funding, it will
expand and re-fund the family support program (especially community-
based home-visiting programs)
develop a well funded, neighbourhood or community area approach, tar-
geting multiple risk and protective factors using a developmental preven-
tion framework
target communities in areas with high levels of reported child abuse,
school dropout rates, substance abuse, violence and juvenile crime
have a co-ordinated, whole of government approach — resulting in com-
munity partnerships built on mutually agreed agendas which all parties
can commit to in the long term
document and research the long-term impact of community-based inter-
evaluate and track program effectiveness and cost benefits to inform
future long-term political and funding agendas
expand use of community based child care for children living in poverty
fund readily accessible respite care and mentoring services.
Common sense tells us that prevention is better than cure, but governments globally
devote less than 1% of their budgets to the prevention of social and mental health
problems14. Most funds go towards remedial services. The results of prevention are
difficult to measure. Research conducted by RAND15 shows that for every $1 spent
on early intervention, $7 is saved. Not only does early intervention work, it is cost
effective! Pathways to Prevention shows that early intervention leads to prevention
of a range of social problems, eg. crime, drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse and
neglect etc. Society wants parents to stop harming their children, but governments
are unwilling to systematically invest in prevention and early intervention programs.
The promotion-prevention-protection continuum
policies & programs
promote wellness
policies & programs
prevent maltreatment
some problems
Families at
risk of
policies & programs
prevent deterioration
require intensive
protection services
Source: Promoting FAMILY WELLNESS and preventing CHILD MALTREATMENT 16
A Time to Invest — 15
Child, youth and family services require a continuum of services that range from pro-
motion/wellness to proactive/universal policies for everyone, to proactive/high-risk
approaches that focus on a targeted population, as well as reactive/indicated
approaches of intensive protective services. Interventions only at the intensive end of
the continuum are too little too late. CAFWAA believes that there is an imbalance in
the current service system. There are proactive government policies and programs
which can respond early to high-risk families, and which can prevent serious welfare
problems developing.
Important findings in brain research indicate that the first three years of a child’s life
are critical to children’s development. Furthermore, the majority of physical brain
development which occurs during this period provides the foundation for long term
physical and mental health, as well as cognitive development. These findings provide
evidence that early childhood furnishes a window of opportunity for enriching input
and a window of vulnerability to such social stresses as poverty and dysfunctional
home environments.
Whole of government approaches in Canada (Ontario, The Early Years Program)17
and the United Kingdom (Sure Start Program)18 are examples of whole government
investment in evidence-based prevention programs to avoid future community costs.
The Canadian Government19 will spend $2.2 billion dollars over five years to
provincial and territorial governments to support investments in early childhood
developmental programs and services. Likewise, the British Government 20 has a
budget of £450 million rising to £500 million in 2003–04. Similar early intervention
State initiatives in Australia include NSW’s Families First and Western Australia’s
Building Blocks. However the scale of investment is not adequate and nowhere near
the investment and work in similar western countries.
RAND research 21 studied nine programs (which provided a range of early childhood
intervention programs) and concluded that carefully targeted early childhood inter-
ventions can yield measurable benefits in the short term. As well, some of those ben-
efits persist long after the program has ended. These programs had the following
advantages for participants:
• improvement in emotional or cognitive development for the child (typi-
cally in the short term), or improved parent-child relationships
• improvements in educational process and outcomes for the child
• increased economic self-sufficiency through labour force participation,
higher incomes and lower welfare usage
• improvements in health-related indicators, including maternal reproduc-
tive health, decreases in maternal substance abuse and child abuse.
RAND research 22 estimated that the cost benefits from such early intervention pro-
grams were in the order of US$24,000 per family for the High/Scope Perry Pre-
School Project and US$6000 per family for the higher risk families of the Elmira
Prenatal/Early Infancy Project.
Government investment in prevention and early intervention programs has cost ben-
efits of reducing public expenditure later in life and potential savings to government
16 — CAFWAA policy document
through reduced expenditures in education and families using fewer welfare and
mental health resources, as well as a decreasing crime rate.
National research conducted on behalf of the National Crime Prevention Strategy,
Pathways to Prevention 23, recommended a policy framework for a developmental
approach to crime prevention. The strategy is underpinned by the following princi-
ples which are very relevant to the child, youth and family welfare sectors:
• identify factors which contribute to child abuse — risk and protective x fac-
tors that affect the long term development of children and young people
• risk and protective factors need to be viewed in the context of other child
factors, family factors, school context, life events, community and cultur-
al events
• the impact of risk factors is usually not singular, but instead multiple and
has a cumulative effect over time
• a developmental prevention pathway and early intervention approach pro-
vides many opportunities for earlier intervention. From pre-school to
adulthood, this is a life course approach
• the nature and timing of intervention depends (from a developmental per-
spective) not just on the individual’s age, but on the identified pathways
and critical transition points that characterise those pathways (ie. pre-
school, primary school, secondary school/adolescence and adult life)
• strategic diversion from harmful or vulnerable pathways before maladap-
tive patterns of behaviour become well entrenched
• importance of social context and available support
• evaluation to identify effective programs — map changes in behaviour
and document cost-effective mechanisms and social contexts.xi xii
Prevention and early intervention programs aim to develop more supportive, friend-
ly and inclusive environments for children, young people and families; and promote
healthy pro-social development.
CAFWAA promotes the development of a comprehensive national prevention strat-
egy in disadvantaged communities, to build community capacity and social capital
for the long term benefit of at-risk children and young people. Because of the level
of service needed, these services should be placed in areas of low socio-economic
status as the first priority. Ideally, the location of these prevention projects should be
community-based in non-stigmatising local neighbourhoods/community areas close
to childcare centres, pre-school and primary schools. The pilot project that Mission
Australia and Griffith University et al are undertaking in a Brisbane suburb to trial
the recommendations of the Pathways to Prevention report is an example of a social
capital/community development model. CAFWAA believes this approach is positive
and proposes the Commonwealth Government fund similar demonstration projects
Risk and Protective Factors associated with Antisocial & Criminal
Behaviour in Pathways to Prevention
xiAppendix Three: Summary of Major Prevention Program Evaluations in Pathways to
xiiAppendix Four: Summary of Cost Benefit Analysis of Programs Surveyed in FACS Policy
Research Paper No. 11
x Appendix Two:
A Time to Invest — 17
across the country. Long term commitment is required with a shift from the narrow
focus on output targets to one of understanding outcome indicators for the develop-
ment of social capital and healthy communities.
CAFWAA commends the Commonwealth Government for the Stronger Families—
Stronger Communities initiative, but resources need to be increased across the nation
to address the current need for preventative programs. Targeting areas of high socio-
economic disadvantage needs to be considered in the roll-out of these scarce
resources. Greater consultation and participation between the federal and state/terri-
tory governments is also needed to identify communities of risk and disadvantage.
What is required is an across-government, joined up response to combat the current
isolated planning and limited collaboration between all sectors and governments.
The evidence is there. What we now need is an ongoing commitment of resources to
ensure long term sustainability of programs.
18 — CAFWAA policy document
3. Actively supporting kinship
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
• undertake a longitudinal study on the full range of wellbeing and educa-
tion benefits for children in kinship care programs
• disseminate nationally the research findings on effective kinship care.
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:
• recognise the important role relative/kinship care plays in the Australian
child and family welfare system. CAFWAA stresses the urgent need for
the development of a practice framework which articulates the principles,
policies and minimum practice standards to ensure quality of care for chil-
dren and young people.
The practice framework should provide a differentiated and sensitive
approach24 to support kinship carers through the availability of:
• early assessment processes for extended families to explore family
strengths and options for care of children (eg. address the need for respite
issues early)
• financial assistance (including to all indigenous families involved in kin-
ship care)
• access to voluntary supervision and support in the early phases of care
• ongoing family support as required to support placement
• access to respite care
• support and supervision of access visits (where requested)
• peer support and networks of carers (eg: support groups for grandparents)
• parent education and groups
• information brochures about access to income maintenance, community
services and referrals.
Formal kinship care, where children are placed with relatives and other members of
the child’s network, is the fastest growing form of care in Australia. The AIHW fig-
ures25 at 30 June 2001 report that of the total of 18,241 children in out of home care
in Australia, 38% were in relative/kinship care. There are many more families who
have not come to the attention of welfare departments and are therefore not repre-
sented in official figures.
Kinship care is a normal and important aspect of our society, however given the com-
plex needs of many of the neglected or abused children living with kin, and the age
and socio-economic situations of many kin carers, social policy needs to be more
active in addressing the needs of kin carers
A Time to Invest — 19
Type of Care
1998 no(%) 1999 no(%) 2000 no(%) 2001 no(%)
Foster care 8089(56%) 8212(53%) n.a. 9429(52%)
Relative/kinship care 4446(31%) 5254(33.9%) n.a. 6940(38%)
126(1%) 183(1.2%) n.a. 192(1%)
13,649(88%) 15,169(89.6%) 16,561(91%)
Other home based care
Total home-based care12,661(88%)
Facility based care 1415(10%) 1314(9%) 1222(7.3%) 1177(6%)
Independent living 183(1%) 218(1%) 208(1.2%) 203(1%)
Other 211(1%) 316(2%) 324(1.9%) 300(2%)
Total 14,470(100%) 15,497(110%) 16,923(100%) 18,241(100%)
Source: AIHW Table 4.4: Children in out of home care, type of placement, by State and
Territory, at 30 June 2001
Johnstone26 notes that the latest figures from the AIHW also indicate that over the
past four years, the number of children in non-reimbursed kinship care placements
has increased at a markedly greater rate than the number of children in reimbursed
kinship care. Available evidence indicates that relative carers tend to be single, poor-
er and older (grandparents) than non-relative carers.
Kinship care placements have higher rates of stability27, are important to children
and young people because they are non-stigmatising, preserve identity, contact with
their families and culture, and relieve the pressure on an already stressed out of home
care sector. Kinship care usually does not have the formal recognition of carer as in
foster care, with the typical reimbursement or supports. Placement reimbursements
appear to be arbitrary and ad hoc across different jurisdictions. However, even
though research is positive, kinship care placement stability is at-risk (in some states)
due to unnecessary stresses, lack of planned supports and lack of routine access to
payments and resources.
The Costs of Living 28 study on foster care found that several states and territories pay
different forms and often lower levels of allowance to kinship carers than to foster
carers. A key issue is that kinship placements are not routinely financially support-
The following table identifies the significant role relative/kinship care plays in the
child and family welfare system. States/Territories rely on relative/kinship care.
Without relative/kinship care, the out of home care system would be unable to
respond to the needs of children and young people requiring placement.
20 — CAFWAA policy document
Number of children in out of home care — relative/kinship care
by indigenous status at 30 June 200129
Home based care
Relative/kinship care
% of total home
based care
Relative/kinship care
% of total
home based care
1458 141 241 223 47 11 11 29
72% 34% 39% 57% 21% 50% 44% 32%
2851 905 478 214 100 208 44 9
56% 30% 21% 26% 11% 48% 26% 16%
Source: Adapted from Table 15A.12 in the Report on Government Services 2002 –
Protection & Support Services
The importance of relative/kinship care cannot be underestimated. Kinship care is a
cornerstone of the Indigenous Child Placement Principle, resulting in a significant
rise in indigenous kinship care numbers. Bridge30 reports that Koori kinship carers
want information, support for access and contact, as well as financial assistance. For
example, Victoria has a high number of indigenous children (43%) placed with non-
indigenous foster carers. As a consequence, links with their birth parents, extended
family and cultural community have become non-existent or tenuous and pose seri-
ous risk to the cultural identity of indigenous children.
The majority of kinship placements have occurred as a consequence of state govern-
ment child protection intervention, because of concern for the child or young per-
son’s welfare. Therefore, CAFWAA believes that the needs of children/young peo-
ple and the state’s duty of care should drive policy to provide resources where kin
carers request assistance. Kinship care policy or legislation should be adequately
funded — as an investment in improved outcomes for those children and young peo-
ple who are unable to live with their birth families but able to maintain essential fam-
ily connections. As well, kinship care prevents an unnecessary drain on an already
overtaxed out of home care system. A cost benefit analysis is needed.
CAFWAA is concerned about the lack of formal supports available to kinship care
placements. Kinship placements often experience significant stress because of the
needs of children and young people, lack of financial support and reimbursement for
the costs of care, isolation and associated tensions related to families. Most impor-
tantly, kinship carers need early access to casework services — specialised family
support programs for placements where there are difficulties. A best practice model
program operating at Oz Child in Melbourne provides benchmarks for kinship care.
Oz Child31 has recently documented and published the theory and practice that
underpins its successful kinship care program.
A Time to Invest — 21
4. Development and support of
foster carers
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth and state and territory govern-
ments to:
initiate a national approach to recruitment, training and accreditation of
foster carers including the funding of a feasibility study for a national
recruitment campaign.
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:
• ensure that indigenous relative/kinship carers receive the same level of
support and access to services for children in care as other carers
• ensure that training and support groups be made available for all indige-
nous carers
• accept the FCE (foster care estimates) as the basis of payment to reim-
burse for food, housing, energy, ongoing clothing, insurance, basic health,
dental, daily transport, leisure and personal care. This amount should be
adjusted annually to reflect the cost of living
• ensure that carer payments are age-related, irrespective of legal order, and
special needs categories should apply. A loading for rural and remote car-
ers should be added. Payments should be applicable to kin carers on
• ensure that mandatory additional payments should be made for: placement
establishment expenses (including clothing), gifts, specialist services
including counselling and tutoring, childcare, private health cover, over
the counter medication, education (books, excursions), mileage and
expenses for all official work such as family contact, appointments and
care planning meetings, and respite care
• provide immediate assistance to address the insurance needs of carers.
CAFWAA works in collaboration with the Australian Foster Care Association
(AFCA) and acknowledges recent work undertaken in relation to a range of nation-
al policy issues affecting foster care32.
Home-based care is a significant component of the out of home care service system,
and it is in a state of crisis due to:
• a dwindling pool of carers emanating from a high rate of turnover and dif-
ficulty of recruiting new carers
• inadequate reimbursement of costs
• changing demographics of client group
• children with complex needs causing significant harm to foster carers and
their children
• misuse of foster care through multiple placements of children and young
people with complex needs
• placement of children from many families with the one carer family, and
resultant demands on carers
22 — CAFWAA policy document
• placement organisations’ current lack of resources to intensively support
• lack of access to planned regular respite foster care.
• In 2000, foster care contributed 53% of placements, with another 34% in
relative/kinship care. In the past decade, foster care has provided care for
children and young people with extremely complex needs, as home-based
care is considered a first priority and more beneficial for children’s needs
than residential care services.
Increased payments to foster carers
Foster care is the backbone of child welfare services and is undergoing a crisis in
recruitment and retention partly due to poor reimbursement. In 2001 Australia-wide
bodies representing child and family welfare agencies and foster carers commis-
sioned the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) University of NSW, to undertake
research to establish the real cost of caring for foster children 33.
The research finds that the estimates of the costs of children in foster care are on
average 52% higher than the costs of children not in care. Foster children require
more expenditure than ‘ordinary’ children in the areas of housing, wear and tear,
household and contents insurance, water usage, energy, food, clothing and footwear,
health, specialist assistance, transport (particularly access visits to birth families),
leisure and personal care.
The study showed that no state or territory is, overall, paying an adequate reim-
bursement to foster carers at the standard subsidy level, compared to the estimated
costs of foster children. The research also confirmed that there is a high level of dis-
content among carers about reimbursement of costs in all states and territories.
The Foster Care Estimates (FCE) compared to the standard subsidy levels for all
states by age of the child (2000) ($ per week)
Note: These figures are indicative only and must be read with regard to the impact of contingency payments
Notes: All dollar amounts rounded. (1) Amount of $242 applies to a boy aged 14.
Amount of $248 applies to a girl aged 14 Source: For all States’ subsidy amounts, Bray, 2001,p 34
A Time to Invest — 23
A study conducted by the Australian Foster Care Association34 identified the fol-
lowing issues in relation to caregiver payments:
• no national uniformity in policy formation or the application of such a pol-
icy to the provision of payments and allowances
• inadequate reimbursement of the real costs carers incur for placement
• existing payment scales do not recognise children placed have special
needs, therefore additional costs
• payment reliability and variations in the application of discretionary pay-
• associated costs related to access, and need for carer retainer payments
when children are on overnight access
• equity issues in the payment of mileage allowances
• a right to access respite care without having to pay for the service — it
should be viewed as part of the case plan
• no automatic indexation, eg. CPI is usually not passed on to carer pay-
• more equitable arrangements for covering associated schooling costs
• discrepancies in reimbursement of medical/dental/pharmaceutical/ambu-
lance costs. Some costs, such as Hepatitis B vaccinations for carers,
should be met in full from agency or government funds
• need for additional support to remote and isolated placements, due to
higher living costs
• costs of insurance, legal liability and indemnification.
Support to foster carers — a shared
In a ‘good practice’ foster care system, there will be both good practice at the fami-
ly or foster carer level, and there will be good practice in the supporting structures
which assist the foster family. Foster care is a joint activity between foster families,
government(s), foster care organisations, birth parents and the broader community.
Foster care depends on, firstly, the calibre and expertise of the fostering family
household, and secondly, the quality and effectiveness of the surrounding support
system. Foster carers need to be adequately resourced with intensive, specialist case
work supports, and have access to wrap-around services to comprehensively meet the
increasing challenging placement needs of children and young people. Without these
supports, placements may be jeopardised and break down, which is detrimental to the
children’s well-being.
Also, foster care contributes to the reunification of children to their families. Carers
have an important role in supporting and mentoring birth parents, as well as manag-
ing complex access arrangements which can place extra demands on placements.
Intensive supports are critical to maintain the current pool of carers and quality care
for children and young people.
24 — CAFWAA policy document
Improved respite care acess for foster
The need for supported respite care for foster carers themselves is another obvious
need in the foster care system. There is little doubt that as the level of need in chil-
dren/young people grows, so too does the stress level and demand upon foster car-
ers. Lack of respite leads to burn-out for many carers. There is already evidence that
lack of supported respite has led some carers to cease fostering. Planned respite care,
which would provide home-based carers with necessary regular respite, is usually
unavailable for long term placements. Lack of access to respite can jeopardise
placement stability and threaten the continuity of care which is crucial to children
and young people living in out of home care.
National standards for foster care
There has been much talk within the sector about standards and separate attempts
have been and are being made in different jurisdictions to develop standards. The
Australian National Baseline Standards for Out of Home Care (covering residential
and foster care) were agreed upon and published in 1996 by the then Standing
Committee of Community Services and Income Security Administrators (SCC-
SISA). The standards were not taken up and applied throughout the sector.
The best interests of Australian children would be served if national standards were
to be developed. The sector as a whole needs national baseline benchmarks for per-
formance. This also includes the development of appropriate standards and practice
protocols to deal with allegations of abuse in out of home care. Standards are a means
of measuring performance and ensuring that poor practice is outlawed. They are also
part of public accountability.
Improved recruitment, training and
accreditation of foster carers
Currently there is no national standard for recruitment, training or accreditation in
foster care. The needs of children and young people requiring out of home care have
changed; foster parents require vastly more parenting skills as the norm. A national
system of recruitment, training and accreditation of foster carers would provide a
number of important functions within the foster care sector:
• national recruitment approaches/initiatives
• formal recognition of carers
• a vehicle for national migration of carers and automatic recognition in
other jurisdictions
• recognition of prior learning
• allied to national standards, competencies and agreed training profiles.
A Time to Invest — 25
5. The need for a range of
services for children and young
people with complex needs
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
fund research to document best practice and service models of effective
treatment programs for children and young people with complex care
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:

commit additional funding to redevelop intensive care services, including
residential care, to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable group of
young people. Such services would include:
community based prevention and intervention programs such as outreach,
multi-systemic therapy, wrap-around and brokerage services for high risk
young people and their families
innovative partnerships and prevention initiatives between government
and the community service sector
the development of new, smaller residential treatment focused options
well-resourced professional therapeutic and specialised home-based care
improved co-operation and collaboration with specialist services
improved access to specialist adolescent and related mental health
adequate attention to needs of young people post-care
increased opportunities for staff training and specialisation.
Services required for children and young
people with complex needs
Children and young people who are in residential care 35 and community placements
have suffered traumatic early environments and care alone is not enough to effec-
tively address the aftermath. An indicative study36 showed that many young people
have complex problems, including:
• exhibiting extreme emotional and behavioural disturbance from early ado-
lescence and increasingly pre-adolescence, including behaviour that fre-
quently involves serious risk of harm to themselves (self-harm, suicide
attempts and/or risk taking) and/or others. Generally, males pose more risk
to others than females
• extreme behavioural disturbance stemming from the experience of severe
physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect in their families of origin,
generally commencing before the age of five years
• suffering severe emotional and attachment problems since early childhood
• suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms
• escalating drug use, crime and prostitution
26 — CAFWAA policy document

history of failed foster care placements
an average of 5.2 years in out of home care
90% receiving little or no education or vocational training
deteriorating life functioning while in care, associated with a dearth of
appropriate services to meet their needs for treatment, education and care.
The study further reported that current services were often not equipped to address
the level of disturbance experienced by these young people and their level of func-
tioning worsened in the period of time they were in out of home care. This is a major
concern and requires immediate remedy.
In the period 1983–1993, there was a decline in the overall numbers of children and
young people placed in out of home care, with numbers in 2000 now only approach-
ing the levels of the early 1980s. Since the 1990s, the increase in the demand for out
of home care has been largely taken up by foster care. In 2000, foster care provided
15,701 placements compared to 1222 in group care37. It is clear that the use of resi-
dential options has been on the decline over the past two decades, although there has
been a recent stabilisation of the total numbers of children placed in group house set-
Australian out of home care trends 1982–2000
1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Source: Bath, H. 1994, 1998 adapted from AIHW. 2001
However, there is also general concern about the increasing number of younger chil-
dren presenting with complex needs being placed in group residential care. Extreme
care should be taken with the placement of young children (under 12 years) in resi-
dential care, and this should not occur unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Short-term, purposeful, time-limited placement may form part of a case management
plan on the proviso that all other placement avenues have been explored. There may
be isolated cases in which longer residential placement is appropriate.
A Time to Invest — 27
The out of home care system should provide a range and mix of placement options
beyond residential care, including supported foster care and well resourced services
• case management service and brokerage funds
• wrap-around models/services
• well resourced family reunification efforts
• one to one care options
• family group homes
• therapeutic foster care.
Bath38 highlights current practice issues facing contemporary residential service
approaches which affect the sector’s capacity to effectively meet troubled adoles-
• Few programs are designed to holistically address or treat the needs of res-
idents. There is poor access to specialist services and poor collaboration
between services.
• There are stresses on smaller residential units, with the mix of young peo-
ple with long histories of juvenile offending, serious substance abuse
issues, mental health concerns and histories of sexual abuse and/or sexu-
ally exploiting other children, and challenging behaviour resulting in con-
tagion of behaviour and a high risk, often dangerous environment.
• Conceptual and theoretical bases are under-developed, relying on a gener-
ic model that emphasises care rather than treatment.
• There is no significant body of knowledge about contemporary Australian
residential care.
• There are inadequate service standards and lack of a national accredita-
tion system to specifies quality care outcomes.
• There are limited qualification and training options for staff working with
young people with intensive support needs.
• Residential units and workers are often in isolated locations.
• Residential care workers have low status, which adds to high turnover of
staff, and difficulty recruiting good staff.
Organisations vary in their use of residential care, with some more specialised organ-
isations preferring to use more community placement models with residential back-
up. Inappropriate placements can be made (with high frequencies of placement
breakdown) as no treatment alternatives exist.
Bath39 argues that contemporary residential care in Australia is still a system that was
designed for children who needed care and protection —– but that is not the reason
that many young people today require placement. Many young people in the welfare
system need treatment and protection.
Morton et al40 in the study, When Care is Not Enough recommended:
• Enhancing regional services (child protection, mental health, juvenile jus-
tice and drug treatment services) by improved cross program cooperation,
28 — CAFWAA policy document
and developing intensive therapeutic services to help young people with
extreme emotional and behavioural disturbance
• Establishing a new specialist state wide service to support cross-program
services, including intensive therapeutic services in child protection, men-
tal health, juvenile justice and drug treatment services.
Residential care may always be a small component of the overall system for very dis-
turbed adolescents and must have links with specialist services, such as adolescent
mental health, drug treatment services, juvenile justice, education and vocational
training. It is urgent that the child welfare sector develop a functional treatment serv-
ice in the context of the continuum of the child, youth and family welfare service sys-
tem. As well, services need adequate resourcing for after-care support to ensure pos-
itive transitions to work and independent living.
CAFWAA believes that residential and community placement services should be
redesigned for young people over 12 years of age for whom care is not enough.
Without treatment options, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people
inevitably drift into marginalisation, homelessness, addiction, unemployment and
incarceration — needing high cost remedial services later in life.
A Time to Invest — 29
6. Educational needs of child
and young people in out of
home care
What needs to happen:
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
undertake research into the educational needs and performance of children
and young people in care to develop appropriate strategies to address their
needs and improve performance at school. This research requires collabo-
ration between national, state and territory governments; community serv-
ice organisations and consumers.
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:
• as a priority, ensure that education, employment and community services
government departments identify and respond to the needs of children and
young people in care. In particular, they need to improve participation in
education and educational performance
• cease using suspensions and exclusions from school for children in out of
home care.
Develop agreements between the education, employment and commu-
nity service government departments in each state and territory to:
• acknowledge the state’s role in parenting children in care
• identify the particular circumstances and needs of children and young peo-
ple in care
• commit to improving the educational participation and performance of
children and young people in care
• require collaboration between government departments, schools and com-
• detail funding available at the local level to facilitate collaboration of serv-
Collect and publish data about educational participation and per-
formance of children and young people in care. This should include:
• matching existing data about the participation of children and young peo-
ple and their educational performance with data identifying children and
young people who are in care in each state and territory
• reporting on performance at the state and territory level
• reporting on performance at a national level in line with current agree-
ments and establishing agreed benchmarks.
Improve collaboration between state and territory departments of
community services and education at all levels of schooling, program
development and policy development. This should include:
• assessment of educational needs, participation and performance of all chil-
dren and young people within one month of being placed in out of home
• involvement of children and young people and key people in their lives to
assess educational performance and plan for the future. Family, direct car-
ers, teachers and other relevant educational personnel, statutory service
30 — CAFWAA policy document

providers and community service organisation providers should be
development of individual education plans for all children and young peo-
ple within two months of being placed in out of home care. Such plans
would identify needs and action required to meet them
six monthly reviews of individual education plans
development of protocols for the sharing of information between schools,
government and organisations providing services
development of mechanisms and processes to monitor assessment, plan-
ning and review functions
collection of all relevant statistical information on participation and per-
formance required at a local level of service
development of local area planning forums involving senior management
to lead, resource and monitor these arrangements.
Train and encourage schools to take an active interest in children in
out of home care, including active involvement in caseplanning, to:
ensure that each school has an appropriate number of children in out of
home care, and receive funding to support such placements.
ensure additional resources for the educational needs of children in out of
home care no matter what system, public or private, that the child is in.
Children and young people in the care of the state are up to two years behind their
peers in educational achievement. CREATE41 Foundation, the consumer advocacy
body for children and young people who have been or are living in out of home care
reported that 50% of children and young people are achieving below average results;
50% have completed only Year 10 or less; 47% are experiencing educational diffi-
culties at school. There are major gaps between reported policies and programs/serv-
ices and information about the needs, participation and performance. No state and
territory has adequate information about educational participation and outcomes of
young people in care. Such serious educational disadvantages will affect young peo-
ple’s access to employment and life opportunities.
CAFWAA too is concerned about the educational disadvantage that children and
young people experience in out of home care. Education makes a significant contri-
bution to the development and wellbeing of children and young people and their
future employment and life opportunities. Education is identified as a significant
gateway through which they can pass from care into adulthood, to employment and
to effectively participate in community life.
The Report Card on Education of Children and Young People in Care was recently
released by CREATE Foundation, the national consumer organisation of 20,000 chil-
dren and young people in care. Ms Jan Owen, the past National Director of CREATE
Foundation commented: 42
The gateway to education is mostly shut for children and young people in
state care. Most do not finish high school. They are achieving below aver-
age results for no other reason than the fact they are in care. More dis-
A Time to Invest — 31
turbingly, at this point in time no state or territory has any way of know-
ing the educational participation or performance of children in their care.
The Education Report Card43 findings highlight:
• states and territories acknowledge that children and young people are at
risk of being inadequately educated
• at the policy and organisational level, children and young people in out of
home care are not identified as a target group
• lack of data collection by state and territory governments regarding the
education of children and young people in their care
• no state or territory has an integrated policy and program framework
• lack of collaboration between education and community service depart-
• lack of monitoring or tracking of educational performance, needs and par-
ticipation of children and young people in care.
However, despite these overall findings, NSW was exceptional in having a unit with-
in the Education Department to focus on support of children and young people in
care. Queensland is the only state to have attempted to track the educational per-
formance of children and young people in care. Northern Territory was unable to
respond to any of the questions within the 2001 Report Card. Western Australia is the
only state to provide ongoing higher education scholarships for young people in care.
South Australia is the only state to collect data based on psychological and intellec-
tual assessments.
The background and circumstances of children and young people in care means that
they require particular assistance to access educational opportunities, promote their
participation and improve their performance if they are to realise their potential. Lack
of access and lost opportunities have a cumulative effect on children as they move
through the various stages of education and development, from pre-school, primary
to secondary school through to vocational and tertiary education.
32 — CAFWAA policy document
7. Commitment to Aboriginal &
Torres Strait Islander children
What needs to happen
CAFWAA supports the Secretariat of the National Aboriginal and
Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in seeking the Commonwealth
Government to pledge its support for:
• making a formal apology to the Stolen Generations through the Federal
• developing a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family policy
between indigenous organisations, the Commonwealth and the states and
territories which aims to:
• reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children still
being removed from home for child welfare and poverty related reasons
• expanding the availability of AICCA’s and Family Support Services to
ensure all indigenous communities can obtain holistic family support
• outlining targets for reducing the current rates of child removal by
state/territory welfare authorities
• establishing national benchmarks for all government services at all levels
to ensure planning takes into account the high proportion (70%) of indige-
nous people under the age of 30
Implementing recommendations from Bringing Them Home includ-
ing those in relation to national standards legislation and national
framework legislation, to cover:
• reform of the current system of child protection to effectively provide for
self determination and the transfer of child protection responsibilities to
accredited community based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organ-
• minimum standards for the protection and support of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islanders in need of care
• juvenile justice administration and issues relating to detention and sen-
tencing; abolishing mandatory sentencing in the NT and WA.
• funding for the Federal Government commissioned National Plan for the
Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect developed by SNAICC and the
Commonwealth in 1996
• establishing and funding a national indigenous youth strategy commission
as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in
Custody with a key focus on community involvement, education and
employment for young people at risk of leaving school with no opportu-
nity for work or study
• providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with improved
access to family support services to prevent family breakdown and reduce
the number of indigenous children removed from their families by state
welfare authorities
• making a national commitment to early childhood development by
expanding the number of multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services,
A Time to Invest — 33
MACS and other early childhood services to ensure all Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander children have access to quality child care and pre-
school education
• Providing additional funding to ATSIC to enable ATSIC to reinstate its
community and youth support program which was closed by budget cuts
imposed on ATSIC in 1996.
The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care’s (SNAICC) nation-
al policy states that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to face
an uncertain and difficult future.” Indigenous children are the most disadvantaged
children in Australia and therefore require particular attention. CAFWAA takes lead-
ership from SNAICC’s recent national policy statement, Making a commitment to
Aboriginal Children and Torres Strait Island Children: Their Future Our
CAFWAA recognises the difficulties that indigenous children and their families face
in all aspects of child, youth and family welfare services. SNIACC has identified the
following key issues which require attention at the community, state, national, and
international levels to promote understanding of and support for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander children.
Family separations and the ongoing
removal of children
The removal of indigenous children from their families continues at an alarming rate
with many still being placed with non-indigenous foster families. Despite the accept-
ance of the indigenous child placement principle, approximately 25% of indigenous
children removed from their families are placed with non-Aboriginal foster parents45.
In the Report Card 2001 46 CREATE points to an average 10.5% increase in indige-
nous children entering care in the past 12 months.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) identifies indigenous chil-
dren as still being over six times more likely to be removed from their family than
other Australian children. The causes include:
• higher rates of poverty
• inadequate housing and living conditions
• intergenerational effects of previous separations from family and culture
• lack of access for families to support services.
The over-representation of indigenous children in out of home care reflects the high-
er incidence of family stress and family breakdown within Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities. This is demonstrated by the rate ratio between indige-
nous and non-indigenous children with the national figure showing indigenous chil-
dren were removed from their families at 6.1 times the rate of other children.
SNAICC and CAFWAA are deeply concerned about the escalating numbers of
indigenous children in out of home care. It is projected that by 2010, the rate for
indigenous children in out of home care across Australian will be 18.3 per 1000. At
34 — CAFWAA policy document
the same time, there will be fewer established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
families able to provide substitute care as 70% of the indigenous population is cur-
rently aged under 30.
Children in out of home care: number and rate per 1000
children aged 0–17 years by indigenous status and State and
Territory, at 30 June 2001
No. of children
Rate per 1000 children
Indigenous Other Total Indigenous Other Total 2139 5647 7786 38.3 3.7 4.9 10.4:1
           children children
Victoria 454 3428 3882 41.5 3.0 3.4 13.8:1
Queensland 637 2374 3011 11.6 2.8 3.3 4.1:1
Western Aust 456 980 1436 16.6 2.2 3.0 7.5:1
Sth Australia 227 948 1175 20.7 2.8 3.3 7.4:1
Tasmania 31 541 572 4.2 4.9 4.8 0.9:1
ACT 29 186 215 18.6 2.4 2.8 7.8:1
100 64 164 4.2 1.8 2.7 2.3:1
4073 14,168 18,241 21.1 3.1 3.9 6.8:1
New South Wales
Nthn Territory
Indigenous: other
rate ratio
Sources: ABS 1999a, b, c.
National standards for the care,
protection, placement and support of
indigenous children
The ‘Indigenous Child Placement Principle’ states that a child placed away from
home under child protection legislation should be placed with other family members,
extended family, within local indigenous communities, another indigenous commu-
nity (where culturally appropriate) or as a last resort, with non-indigenous carers.
This principle has underpinned most state and territory legislations and/or child wel-
fare policy for the past decade but is currently at risk as approximately 25% of chil-
dren are now currently placed with non-indigenous foster parents. The ongoing over
representation of indigenous children in substitute care and the continuing practice
of placing children with non-indigenous foster care constitutes a serious risk to the
cultural identity of indigenous children.
Federal legislation which outlines national standards for the proper care and protec-
tion of indigenous children and incorporation of the indigenous child placement prin-
ciple is urgently needed. Such standards would improve the quality of care for chil-
A Time to Invest — 35
dren in the protective system, ensuring that states and territories are accountable for
implementing the above principles. Sufficient funding needs to be provided to lift the
standards of care and support, and capacity to ensure that more indigenous children
requiring out of home placement are placed within the indigenous community.
Child abuse and neglect
The major contributor to the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander children in the child welfare system and out of home care is child neglect —
not child abuse. Child neglect typically arises where parents and families are unable,
but not necessarily unwilling, to provide for their children in the material sense due
to family poverty, unemployment, poor housing and family stress. Poverty and dis-
advantage are the major cause of child removal, not inappropriate parenting.
Rather than supporting families in poverty to care for their children, all too often the
response of government to family poverty within indigenous communities has been
to remove children. This is an intolerable, unjust and ineffective way to respond to
child neglect and children’s long term interests and requires a more proactive
response focused on family strengthening.
Preventing the removal of children — from
family separation to family support
Currently no government in Australia with a role in child welfare has a specific pol-
icy to lower the rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are
removed from their families for welfare related reasons. This over-representation of
indigenous children in out of home care has a negative impact on children and fam-
ilies and long term cost implications to government and community.
Over the past 20 years there has been some growth in the resources of child and fam-
ily welfare services working with non-indigenous families. In stark contrast,
Australia’s existing Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agencies (AICCA’s) which
serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, have been largely left behind,
neglected and grossly underfunded. The Commonwealth currently provides only part
funding to the 11 services across Australia. AICCAs are unable to work across all
communities because of limited funding. Additional services are required to ensure
that all indigenous communities can access AICCAs and family support services to
help them to keep families together. Improved funding will advance AICCA’s capac-
ity to focus on preventing children being removed in the first place. Its current focus
is family breakdown, removal and placement of children, which is self defeating.
SNAICC believes that governments at all levels, including the Commonwealth, must
commit themselves to this most basic of policy objectives — to reduce the number
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the care and protection system.
36 — CAFWAA policy document
8. A new response to refugee
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
• abolish the practice of mandatory detention for refugee children and fam-
ilies and establish community-based care programs. Community based
care is widely accepted as being a necessary condition for children to
achieve normal development. Children recover from trauma when they are
placed in caring community environments under the protection of family
members or with kin and cultural groups the same as their own. CAFWAA
member organisations have indicated their willingness to provide accom-
modation and support for refugee children and families
• ensure that as long as the detention centres remain that children and young
people must be allowed to attend local schools, interact with local com-
munities and have access to the full range of health and mental health
services accorded the rest of the Australian community
• ensure that as long as detention centres remain, state and territory child
protection authorities must be given the same jurisdictional powers to
intervene and assess or investigate any allegations of child abuse or
Under the present Liberal and former Labor federal governments, Australia has made
it clear that where refugees are concerned, the protection of national borders and the
deterrence of people smuggling is our primary concern. This approach is resulting in
practices which contravene the rights of children and young people, notably those
rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention the Rights of the Child.
CAFWAA believes that current Australian Government policy and practice is in
breach of Australia’s human rights obligations to children and young people.
• Article 37 of the United Nations Convention the Rights of the Child
(UNCRC) which prohibits the detention of children except as a last resort,
and for the shortest possible period of time.
• Article 22 of the UNCRC which requires the state to provide appropriate
protection and humanitarian assistance to refugee or asylum seeker chil-
dren, especially in relation to family reunion.
• The UNCRC requires the state to provide care and intervention to protect
children from abuse and neglect. There is a disturbing lack of intervention
on the part of state child protection authorities to intervene in the cases of
reported abuse. The reasons for this would seem to be complicated and
varied however this does not belie the fact that were these children
Australian citizens they would be provided with care and protection under
appropriate state and territory legislation.
• Article 37(c), which states “...every child deprived of liberty shall be
treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human
person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of
his or her age...”
A Time to Invest — 37
• Article 37(d) which states “...every child deprived of his or her liberty
shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assis-
tance...and to a prompt decision...” Decisions about the refugee status of
children and their families are taking an excessive period of time. There
are numerous instances of children, young people and families being
denied access to information and legal advice about their rights and enti-
In addition to the breaches of human rights for children and young people, current
Australian government policy and practice is detrimental to the psychological, edu-
cational, social and emotional needs of these children.
The nature of Australia’s detention centres puts children at grave risk of physical,
emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. The environment is a mix of highly traumatised
and stressed individuals from widely varied communities, ethnicities, and religions;
some of which are in conflict with each other. Family groups are not separated from
single adult males and no aspect of detention centre operations are child-focused.
Staff in detention centres are not trained in the care and protection of children.
Detention centres are operated on a corrective services model, similar to prisons.
Australian Correctional Management (ACM) staff are referred to as guards, their pri-
mary role being the maintenance of security not the wellbeing of detainees.
The detention centre environment is unsafe and distressing for children. Violent out-
bursts occur frequently between guards and detainees as well as between detainees.
The children are often witnesses to the violence as well as hunger strikes, suicide
attempts and actual suicide.
Serious stress is placed on the family relationships and attachments:
A major stressor for children in detention is the experience of threat to
their attachment relationships. These children live with the fear of aban-
donment and loss of attachment figures and some experience their trau-
matised parents’ withdrawal as rejection.47
The health and educational services provided to refugee children are grossly inade-
quate particularly in the remote detention centres of Port Hedland and Woomera.
Children and young people in all centres are not provided with the regular or special
services provided for children in the general Australian community.
Mental health services in detention centres are inadequate and there is little opportu-
nity for early identification of children in distress or provision of appropriate inter-
ventions. The situation for children in the detention centres has the potential for long
term emotional damage.
There are clear intervention strategies based on the principles of strength-
ening children’s attachment relationships and reducing trauma exposure
which should be implemented. 48
Once in the community unaccompanied and separated adolescents may find them-
selves in situations of great responsibility for themselves and others. They may be
part of child-headed households assuming responsibility for younger children.49 At
38 — CAFWAA policy document
this time there is virtually no community care programs established for this group of
young people.
Sexual violence, exploitation and abuse are strongly associated with situations of
forced population movement. Adolescent girls are particularly at risk of sexual vio-
lence for a range or reasons including their size and vulnerability. Boys are also vic-
tims of sexual violence. 50 The Australian press has brought to public attention mul-
tiple cases of children allegedly being sexually exploited and abused in refugee
detention centres particularly those situated in the Central and Western Australia.51
A Time to Invest — 39
9. Building service quality: practice
standards, quality assurance,
continuous quality improvement
What needs to happen
CAFWAA calls on the Commonwealth Government to:
• fund Families Australia to develop national (benchmark) standards for out
of home care in the context of a ‘Quality Protects’ framework.
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:
• encourage use of Looking After Children case management system in all
states and territories
• offer financial assistance to non-government agencies who wish to pursue
generic quality improvement strategies
• provide adequate resourcing for implementation of standards alongside
monitoring and review mechanisms
• provide leadership and funding incentives to prioritise and expedite the
implementation of the Looking After Children case management system in
out of home care
• have complaint mechanisms and community visiting systems in place.
CAFWAA is committed to the development of practice standards and quality sys-
tems in all services to families and children. Out of home care, which provides serv-
ices for the most vulnerable members of the community, has no consistent national
standards, regulations, licensing or accreditation system. This is not acceptable. Most
services are not subject to state regulation, nor subject to standards or quality devel-
It is essential that all service providers in the sector, including government, for-prof-
it and not-for-profit community service organisations operating out of home care
services be required to adhere to nationally consistent practice standards, quality
assurance procedures and processes. Such standards would ensure quality services
and outcomes for consumers. Standards and compliance procedures are standard
practice in most other areas of human services.
In 1996, the then Standing Committee of Community Services and Income Security
Administrators (SCCSISA) agreed and published standards in the out of home area:
The National Baseline Standards for Out of Home Care (covering residential and fos-
ter care). These standards were not taken up and applied routinely throughout the
sector. They now require substantial upgrading and funding to meet contemporary
out of home care requirements.
In the past decade, various reports (HEROC, the Forde and Community Services
Commission NSW enquiries) have shown serious problems in out of home care. All
call for the establishment of consistent regulations and standards. Standards are
needed to ensure:
• a national quality assurance framework
• the desire for excellence and continuous improvement
• quality for all, particularly the diversification of the sector and rise of for-
profit organisations.
40 — CAFWAA policy document
Given that children and young people are only removed from their family when there
are serious safety and welfare concerns, the out of home care system must provide
better opportunities for long term wellbeing. Children and young people in care
require additional resources to systemic disadvantage. The result of poor out of home
service systems is that children separated from their families are some of the needi-
est people in the community, drawing on community services for the rest of their
lives. The Wards Leaving Care study in NSW52 reported that state wards were often
disadvantaged by being in care and after leaving care. This study found:
• 77% of children in care had more than three placements
• 50% were unemployed 12 months after leaving care
• school retention rate to Year 10 was only 50%
• one in three young women became pregnant soon after leaving care
• more than one in two ex-wards considered suicide after leaving care.
The CREATE Foundation53 also reported poor outcomes for young people leaving
care, including:
• 50% of young people leaving care are unemployed
• 75% do not complete secondary school
• 35% enter the juvenile justice institutions
• 50% of homeless 14–17 year olds have been in care.
Two examples of international national frameworks are Quality Protects and
Children in Need. The UK Government has embarked on a whole of government
approach to reduce the level of poverty within the country. A target has been set to
reduce the level by 30% over a ten year period. The Quality Protects program is in
place to guide early childhood services in designated high need areas, and to work
with their local communities to address barriers to participation in pre-school and
parenting programs. Funding is available to meet needs identified by the local com-
munity, such as transport costs, child care, assistance to achieve employment etc.
Targets such as reductions in unemployment and referrals to child protection are
attached to the allocation of funding.
For those children identified as requiring special, additional support to meet their
developmental needs and to avoid placement, a uniform framework is being devel-
oped to identify support required for the child and/or their family. The Children in
Need framework has been developed from 15 years of research; the Looking After
Children framework has been used for children in out of home care for over ten
A comprehensive, well researched program is embedded in the range of child and
family services which is robustly supported and funded by a whole of government
approach. The following table outlines the current status of quality assurance across
A Time to Invest — 41
Status of Quality Assurance Systems in Australian Child Welfare
States/Territories Generic Tools
Standards in Place Standards Community Complaints Case
                   Compliance Visitors Procedures Management
ACT AQF No No Yes Yes All providers using LAC
    Government Framework
Vic CWAV provides training Residential standards No systematic No Only that it is Some CSOs taking
    FAMQUIS CHASP phase. Family Support implementation in specified in up LAC
    SAAP EQUIP 1996 standards, but sector, other than standards as
               no systematic training strategy an expectation.
               implementation currently being
                              planned for residential
                              care standards (2001)
Standards for Awaiting In place 1997 Standards for No systemic No
Substitute Care & organisation of through out of home care implementation
SAAP 1998. Children's Guardian CAMA & family preservation in sector
New South WalesSome CSO’s have
used ISO 9000
South Australia Some CSO’s have
implemented a range
of systems. eg.
ISO 9000 Certification.
Some CSO’s have
implemented a range
of systems. eg. AQC
Licensing of
Residential Services
Licensing on
Through the
non-government services Commissioner
being phased in 2002. for Children &
Young People.
Specified in standards Government committed
as an expectation, and to implement LAC
external to agencies
but no action
through CAMA and
to date. Some
Children’s Ombudsman.
CSO's taking up LAC
No No
As per Licensing Currently trialing a
process & in needs assessment in
accordance with one region
Western AustraliaNo system wide No No No Government Consumer Government intend
response Advocate to introduce LAC
Tasmania No No No No Some agencies have Government intend
                     developed own to introduce LAC
Northern Territory No No No No No No
Source: CAFWAA Quality Working Group. 2001
The above table highlights state by state the fragmentation and under development
of national practice standards and quality assurance systems in the sector. It also
clearly identifies the gaps and variations and the resulting risks in ensuring quality
care and support services across the nation. In comparison, Supported
Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), aged care and hospital services have
accreditation procedures. Child care centres are regulated through national standards
and accreditation procedures.
CAFWAA believes there is a role for the Commonwealth in developing sector stan-
dards to be implemented at the state and territory level. In the past four years there
has been considerable debate but minimal progress in advancing the cause of nation-
42 — CAFWAA policy document
al standards. Despite jurisdictional issues, the Commonwealth could play a valuable
role as honest broker in urging a consistent approach to be developed across state/ter-
ritory jurisdictions.
National standards implementation has implications for funding at the state/territory
level. There will be increased costs to support organisations in their pathway to qual-
ity service provision and accreditation, but improved services to the community.
Without additional resources, the implementation of consistent standards will remain
In its Report Card 2001 54, CREATE identified that attempts to improve the quality
of service delivery and outcomes for children and young people were being hindered,
because of the lack of a shared quality framework across states and territories. CRE-
ATE found that there was an urgent need to review the various approaches to quali-
ty being used in child and family welfare agencies across Australia.
There is an identified need to develop industry standards for both government and
community sector services, and to improve the quality of service delivery and out-
comes for children and young people in out of home care. CREATE recommended
that Looking after Children (LAC) be adopted in each state and territory.
CAFWAA believes that a multi-level approach to standards and quality assurance
systems should be adopted across federal and state levels.
CAFWAA has identified three levels of quality assurance appropriate for the sector:
• A system of quality management tools, for example the Standards
Australia (SA; formerly AQC), International Standards Organisation
(ISO) and Quality Improvement Council (QIC)
• A number of organisations involved in the provision of child welfare serv-
ices are now adopting a generic system of quality assurance and improve-
ment. These systems are designed to engage agency staff and management
in examining planning, management and operational systems, and to seek
continuous improvements measured against broadly stated indicators of
quality. Such approaches are aimed at the dimension of aspirational qual-
ity but do not incorporate any assessment or accreditation against specific
alternative care standards or requirements
• National standards for out of home care services and support services to
families, with implementation structures and funding, to apply to govern-
ment and non-government services.
Government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that practice standards and
quality processes are in place, to ensure a minimum quality of care which is publicly
accountable. Government has a dual role of establishing and monitoring standards at
the foundational level. Monitoring options include an external monitoring body to
review service providers and grant accreditation; a children’s guardian (as in NSW)
or children’s commissioner model; or peer review with peak body involvement.
Furthermore, when service providers are required to meet national standards, it is
fundamental that government provide adequate funding to underpin a national prac-
tice standards framework for quality care and support services to children, youth and
A Time to Invest — 43
• A case management system, such as the Looking After Children (LAC)
Framework. The service delivery system requires a case management sys-
tem which details information and processes to be implemented when
working with individual children and their families. LAC is an interna-
tionally recognised best-practice approach to case management, and it
results in improved outcomes for children in out of home care. The LAC
approach has been adopted in states and territories with generally positive
feedback from government and community organisations. One territory,
the ACT, has introduced LAC to all services involved in out of home care.
CAFWAA encourages all state and territory governments to fund the implementation
of the LAC system as per the UK Quality Protects and Children in Need frameworks.
This will result in a best practice national and international system for comparisons,
and identification of practice issues faced by out of home care systems in Australia.
44 — CAFWAA policy document
10. Commitment to non-
government sector sustainability
CAFWAA calls on state and territory governments to:

ensure long term sustainability and capacity of the child and family wel-
fare non-government sector by addressing viability of the sector. One of
the major priorities is a significant injection of financial resources to
underwrite increased risks and costs. Through realistic funding bases,
community service organisations will be able to deliver quality services,
to meet the duty of care responsibility that they share with government.
Failure to address this immediate need will result in:
increased risk to the safety and well-being of children and young people
in out of home care and staff
some residential services will close, further reducing care options
diminished public confidence
increased long term costs to government and the community
increased litigation.
To acknowledge the transfer of increased risks, which affect the long-term
viability of the non-government sector, it is imperative for government to
form a partnership with the sector which shares the risks and indemnifies
community service organisations from future litigation.
CAFWAA is proud of the non-government sector’s contribution to a healthy, pro-
ductive civil society that is responsive and nurturing of children. The sector is pas-
sionate and committed, but CAFWAA is gravely concerned about its ongoing capac-
ity and viability to meet future needs of children, young people and their families.
Government can never provide the professional level of service and innovation of the
non-government sector. Client families do not have the same trust in government
services as in community services, which do not have a child protection police role.
The non-government sector is also able to generate substantial funds for children’s
welfare through fundraising and corporate support, together with in-kind support
through volunteer contributions.
Viability of non-government out of home
care services
Significant factors affecting the viability of non-government out of home care serv-
ices include:
• the current trend to outsource government services to the community serv-
ices sector, resulting in the transfer of risks and growing expectations
(without the transfer of resources that were previously available to the
government sector). A proportion of these government funds have been
offered up by state and territory departments to meet productivity dividend
demands of government, while further funds have been deployed to con-
tract management costs etc, within government
• increased risk management requirements for children and young people
currently in out of home care who are more emotionally and behavioural-
ly disturbed and traumatised, with higher levels of complexity and need,
A Time to Invest — 45

than ever before encountered
reduction of the overall system’s bed capacity, which has reduced the like-
lihood of matching a young person to the most suitable placement, and
hence minimise contagion effects which worsen behaviour
because of the increased complexity of needs of children and young peo-
ple, staff are exposed to greater risk of assaults and work related stress
staff retention and recruitment problems that ensue from the above
inadequacy of the current range and types of family support services avail-
able for children and young people and their families to effectively sup-
port staying at or returning to home
in some states, the introduction of stringent policy and legislative require-
ments without flow-on funding to meet these legal requirements
increasing inability of foster carers to get insurance cover for contents and
personal liability
growing concern about possibility of litigation for both carers and com-
munity service organisations
historic under funding of services and organisational infra-structure to
deliver quality services limits sector capacity and development of effec-
tive risk management strategies
introduction and administration of GST and fringe benefit tax.
Work Cover costs blow out
As a consequence of the increased complexity of the needs of children and young
people in out of home care, staff are exposed to greater risk of assaults and work
related stress. In Victoria alone during 2000–01, youth workers accounted for more
than 3000 days of paid compensation for occupational assault and nearly 2000 days
for exposure to a traumatic event.55 Increased Work Cover premiums have not been
covered by government funding, a factor which affects the viability of the sector.
Viability of support services for families
The Family Support program and associated support programs for vulnerable fami-
lies remain patchy, geographically and in the variety of available service models.
They are grossly under-funded. Since direct Commonwealth Government funding
for Family Support was withdrawn in 1988, program consistency has been lost across
Australia. With the escalation of demand upon state child protection services, sup-
ports for families have become ill-defined and poorly funded by state and territory
governments. Community organisations are contributing very significantly to the
costs of these services xiii, many of which are working with high- and complex- need
families, hence providing an essential diversionary role for the child protection sys-
tem. In these instances government resourcing should be increased, because these
community organisations cannot sustain this level of funding.
xiiiFor example, a $20,000 government grant in 1985 (with the occasional CPI increase) does
not purchase much service in 2002. robust 1985 services are now half the size they were, fac-
ing increased demands for access by high needs families
46 — CAFWAA policy document
Financial viability
Two recent studies56 57 highlight factors impinging directly and indirectly on the via-
bility of community services:
• major changes in client population and increasing Work Cover costs:
understaffing, high staff turnover, lack of available supports and manag-
ing challenging behaviours have led to increased stress on staff, increased
sick/stress leave and increased Work Cover claims
• inadequate levels of funding to ensure that services are able to operate
effectively and meet the legislated standards of care
• increased insurance costs across the range of insurances required, to effec-
tively manage risks in service delivery
• failure to pass on CPI increases and full costs of statutory wage increases
coupled with impact of productivity savings
• systemic work force problems: high turnover of staff, impact of award
changes, low status and remuneration of workforce, poor parity on pay
and conditions with similar roles in other sectors such as government and
health, emergence of and reliance on agency (contract) staff
• a major increase in administration staff costs to meet compliance and
reporting requirements of governments and the increasing administrative
burden on direct service staff which decreases the time they can spend on
client service
Additional program costs have been subsidised by the sector and managed by:
• drawing on financial reserves, resulting in depletion of financial reserves
and assets that could otherwise be deployed to program development in
non-statutory services.
• reliance on once-off grants and bequests to cover operating deficits
• individual case by case negotiation with government for specific funding
arrangements for high risk adolescents
• changing models of service delivery to implement lower cost structures
incorporating reduced levels of services
• as a last resort, reducing or closing service.
Success Works58 conducted a study of sector viability of 28 Victorian out of home
care services in 2001 and reported (in discussion) that only 10 (42%) of the 24 agen-
cies were assessed as viable. Another eight (33%) were considered potentially non-
viable in the short-term as they were running down their reserves. Four services
reported their withdrawal from out of home care services. This study identified 75%
of residential services being either currently non-viable or potentially non-viable.
The Queensland Churches Community Services Forum Report59 indicated that 13 of
the 19 licensed residential care services were funded at $260,000 or less and called
for an immediate viability package to ensure that services were able to operate effec-
tively and meet the legislated ‘Standards of Care’.
A Time to Invest — 47
Rural and remote service needs
Rural and remote organisations are experiencing significant disadvantage which is
affecting their capacity to serve their communities. Areas that require urgent atten-
tion are:
• access to specialist services
• recruitment and retention of staff
• access to supervision
• access to training and professional development
• travel costs
• telephone and internet costs
• inadequate funding levels to respond to current rural service needs.
Threats of litigation
There is a growing concern in the sector about the potential liability of welfare serv-
ices and prospects of litigation. The current trend of outsourcing services from gov-
ernment has resulted in community service organisations taking greater responsibil-
ity for risk management, which raises issues of indemnity in contracting services
from government. Recent developments in procurement and commercial contracting
practices have resulted in non-government organisations indemnifying government
against a range of risks. Current community trends indicate the likelihood of greater
threats of litigation. Sidford60 discusses a landmark case in the UK, Barrett v Enfield
London Borough Council which puts beyond doubt the imposition of a duty of care
and civil action. She points to a growing number of decided cases in which the courts
have imposed liability on public authorities for workers’ negligence in the discharge
of their duties under welfare legislation. She argues that there is a growing potential
for personal claims to be brought against the department or the state by individuals
who claim they have suffered physical or psychological abuse in alternative care. A
duty of care does exist and will require proof that there have been breaches of the
standard of reasonable care. She comments that one consequence of these decisions
is the likelihood that non-government organisations presently operating in the field
will be unable to continue to operate as they assume such transferred risk from state
CAFWAA is alarmed about increasing risks facing the sector, in particular rising
costs of insurance premiums and threats of litigation. State governments need to
acknowledge their role and ultimate duty of care for children and young people
placed in out of home care.
Industry development plan
It is in the interests of government and the community to ensure the robustness of the
community care sector. As the major service delivery arm and as an expression of
48 — CAFWAA policy document
social capital, community service organisations must be supported by governments
to undertake their third-sector role. For example, Victoria has a 10 year State
DisAbility Plan, so why not a 10 Year Community Care Plan?
An Industry Plan xiv for the Community Care sector would need to incorporate:
• long term strategic planning for the sector, including models of co-ordi-
nated planning
• viable workforce planning and improvement of conditions, including a
comprehensive workforce training and development plan
• a framework for continuous quality improvement and accreditation mech-
• commitment to evidence-base program development that identifies
sources and mechanisms for funding research, evaluation, program devel-
opment and innovation
• models of community and client participation that link service develop-
ment with processes for community capacity-building
• a communications and key-information plan, including harnessing IT
• financial planning to ensure long term certainty for the sector
• capital expenditure needs.
Critical workforce issues that would need to be addressed in such an industry plan
• implementation of quality programs and continuous improvement mecha-
• a qualified workforce for the industry, instead of reliance on unqualified
• overcoming difficulties of staff retention
• recruitment in rural and remote areas
• unequal access to staff development and training
• lack of parity in salary and conditions compared to government and health
New for-profits in the community sector
There are a number of serious problems with the shift towards a tendering approach
to the provision of out of home care services, particularly with respect to the quality
of care that is offered to vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Any tendering
process assumes that the ‘product’ or services required can be clearly described and
specified quality standards reached. Unlike comparable developed countries, there
are no generally-accepted out of home care service standards in place in Australia,
let alone accreditation systems to ensure that the standards are met. Other industries
such as day care and aged care have federally-funded systems that meet this need. In
the absence of such systems, criteria such as service cost will inevitably drive the ten-
dering process.
xivSee Appendix Five: Components of a Community Services Industry Plan
A Time to Invest — 49
In some states, the unhappy effects of such developments are readily apparent.
Several years after the shift to a tendering approach to the provision of services for
high-needs adolescents in NSW, only a handful of the experienced providers remain
in the work. Most of the older, experienced organisations with successful track
records in the field have withdrawn their services, unable to provide adequate quali-
ty service for the funding, and short-term contracts. They have been replaced by a
disparate group of providers, including several for-profit groups, many without expe-
rience in this challenging and specialised work. Many of the new groups operate in
this under-regulated environment without a sound and proven infrastructure, and
without the guiding hand of a management board. Not surprisingly, some of the new
organisations have withdrawn after a short period, others have closed and the own-
ership of others has changed. Vulnerable and disadvantaged young people who need
the best that can be offered in terms of stability, reliability and service quality, are the
real losers.
50 — CAFWAA policy document
CAFWAA member
Child, Youth & Family Agencies
of the ACT
Barnardos Australia
Galilee Inc.
Marymead Child & Family Centre
Richmond Fellowship
School of Social Work, Australian Catholic
YWCA of Canberra — Family Housing Service
Association of Children’s
Welfare Agencies (NSW)
Australian Red Cross [NSW]
Benevolent Society of NSW
Bungarimbil Adolescent & Family Care Program
Carries Place Co-op
Centacare Wagga Wagga
Department of Community Services
Professor Frank Ainsworth
Lutanda Children’s Homes
Marist Community Services
Mission Australia
Presbyterian Social Services
St Saviour’s Neighbourhood Centre
Stretch-A-Family Inc
Weldon Centre
Wesley Dalmar Child & Family Care
Association of Child Welfare
Agencies (NT)
Anglicare Central Australia
PeakCare Queensland
Abused Child Trust Inc
Anglicare (Qld)
CREATE Foundation
Save the Children Fund — Queensland Division
Uniting Church (QLD) — Family & Community
Uniting Church (QLD) — Family & Community
Support —Community Linking and Outreach
Child & Family Welfare
Association of South Australia
Anglicare SA
Centacare Catholic Family Services
Child Protection Service
Department of Human Services
Lutheran Community Care
Minda Incorporated
Port Pirie Central Mission
School of Social Work & Social Policy,
University of SA
Southern CAMHS
Child & Family Welfare
Association of Tasmania
Centacare Catholic Family Services
Clarendon Children and Family Services
Glenhaven Family Care Inc
Children’s Welfare Association
of Victoria
Anglicare Vic/Southern Region
Anglicare Victoria
Berry Street Victoria
Child & Family Services — Ballarat
Dr Ulla Svensson
Glastonbury Child & Family Services
Kildonan Child & Family Services
Kilmany Family Care
Lisa Lodge — Hayeslee
Lloyd Owen
MacKillop Family Services
Menzies Inc
Northern Parenting Resource Centre
Oz Child — Children Australia
Secretariat National Aboriginal & Islander Child
Southern Family Life
St Luke’s Anglicare
Starting Out — Uniting Care Connections
The Salvation Army — SouthEastern Network
UnitingCare Connections
Childrens Youth & Family
Agencies of WA
Anglicare — West Perth
Department of Family & Children’s Services
Lady Gowrie Centre
Mercy Community Services
Parkerville Children’s Home
The Salvation Army Crossroads West
Wanslea Family Services
A Time to Invest — 51
1AIHW. Child Protection Australia 2000-01, cat. Nos CWS
16. Child Welfare Series No 29. p 13
2Maluccio, A and Fein, E., 1983, Permanency Planning – A
Redefinition in Child Welfare Vol LXII No 3.
3Report on Government Services 2002. Productivity
Commission Report, 15A Protection & Support Services
Attachment. Table 15A 10.
4CWAV 2001. Support Services to Families Survey,
5Report on Government Services 2002. Productivity
Commission Report, p 809
6Report on Government Services 2002. Productivity
Commission Report, p 810
7Cashmore, J and Paxman J, A Longitudinal Study of
Wards Leaving Care, Social Policy Research Centre
University of New South Wales. 1996
8Barber. J G. and Gilbertson. R. Foster Care: The State of
the Art. ACCSR., Flinders University, Adelaide. 2001. pp
9ACWA, Discussion Paper on Permanency Planning
February 2002 Available online
10Australian Institute of Health & Welfare – Adoptions in
Australia 2000-01. AIHW. cat. No. CWS 15
Canberra:AIHW 2002. p 4
11 Triseliotis. J., Long Term Foster Care or Adoption? The
Evidence Examined. Child & Family Social Work Nos 7,
2002. pp 23-33.
12Mendes. P. Leaving Care Services in Victoria; a case
study of a policy debate. Developing practice;Autumn
2002 51, pp 51-58
13Green. S., Jones, A. Improving outcomes for young peo-
ple leaving care in Victoria, CWAV & The Salavation Army
Crossraods Network, 1999, pp 55-60.
14Prilleltensky. I., (2001) Keynote address at the 8th
Australian Child Abuse & Neglect Conference, Melbourne.
15Greenwood. J., Model. K., Rydell CP. and Chiesa. J.
Diverting Children from a Life of Crime. RAND CA 1998
16Prilleltensky. I., Nelson. G. & Pierson., L. Promoting
Family Wellness and Preventing Child Maltreatment.
University of Toronto Press 2001. p 13
17Fraser. M., Reversing the Real Brain Drain-The Early
Years Report. .Canada. April 1999.
18Statham. J. & Eisenstadt. N. The Sure Start Program in
the United Kingdom. Family Matters No. 59 Winter 2001. p
19Report to Government on Canada Activities &
Expenditures 200-2001. www:
20Miller. J., Family Policy in Britain under Labour: From
Implicit to Explicit. p 10
21Karoly, L., Greenwood. P., Everingham. S., Hoube.,
Kilburn. M., Rydell. C., Snaders. M., and Chiesa. J.
Investing in Our Children, RAND CA 1998. pp 84-103.
22Karoly et al, p xxiii
23Pathways to Prevention: Developmental and early inter-
vention approaches to crime in Australia. National Crime
Prevention Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department,
National Capital Printers ACT. 1999
24Cashmore,J in Developing Practice: Winter 2001. Kinship
Care: a differentiated and sensitive approach p 8.
25The fifth biennial welfare report of the AIHW. Cat No.
AUS 24, Australian Government Publishing Service,
Canberra 2001 p 185
26Johnstone, H. Trends in substitute care for children and
young people. Paper presented at the National Social Policy
Research Conference, 5th July, University of New South
Wales, Sydney (2001)
27Barnardos Australia in Developing Practice: Winter 2001.
Kinship Care: What is a responsible policy?, pp14
28McHugh. M. The Costs of Caring: A Study of
Appropriate Foster Care Payments for Stable and Adequate
Out of home Care in Australia. ACWA, CAFWAA and
52 — CAFWAA policy document
AFCA 2002
29Report on Government Services 2002- Productivity
Commission Report. 15A Protection & Support Services.
Attachment. Table 15A 12.
30Bridge, A. Developing Practice: Winter 2001. Kinship
Care & Aboriginal Communities pp 8
31 Oz Child’s Kith and Kin Program, Oz Child,
32 Australian Foster Care Association Preventing Child
Abuse and Providing Support for Parents in the Australian
Foster Care Sector: A Funded Project for the Department of
Family and Community Services, ACT 2001
33McHugh, The Costs of Caring.
34 Australian Foster Care Association: Carer Payments
Response Paper. 2001
35Morton. J., Clark. R., and Pead. J., When care is not
enough. Consultants’ report to Department of Human
Services, Melbourne, Dec 1999 pvii
36Morton et al, p 28.
37 Bath, H., Is There a Future in Residential Care in
Australia? Developing practice: Summer 2001/2002, pp 42
38Bath,H., Missing the Mark: Contemporary out of home
care services for young people with intensive support needs.
ACWA & CAFWAA, July 1998 pp14-19.
39 Bath, H., Is There a Future in Residential Care in
Australia? Developing practice: Summer 2001/2002, pp 47
40Morton et al., p 105
41CREATE Foundation Kids in Care Education Report Card.
2001. online HYPERLINK “” pp 8
42CREATE Foundation. Kids in Care Education Report
Card. Media Release. 21st May 2001
43CREATE Foundation. Kids in Care Education Report
Card. online HYPERLINK “” pp 8-9
44The following policy document is the source for informa-
tion contained in this policy statement. Their Future Our
Responsibility: Making a commitment to Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Children. SNAICC, 2001.
45 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child
Protection Report 1998/98. AIHW cat no CWS 11.
Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra 2000.
46 CREATE Foundation Report Card: 2001. Website
47Newman L. Children in Detention – the burden of trauma.
In Developing Practice Number 2; Summer 2002
49Summary note on UNHCR’s Strategy and Activities con-
cerning Refugee Children and Adolescents
51The Australian, 15/11/00. 25/11/00, 27/11/00, 6/12/00 &
The Age 29/11/00; to cite just a few examples.
52Cashmore. J. and Paxman. M. Longitudinal Study of
Wards Leaving Care. Social Policy Research Centre
University of New South Wales. 1996.
53CREATE Foundation Report Card: 2001. online www.cre-
55CWAV Safety Development Fund Project on Occupational
Assault and Trauma in Residential Services, work in
56At What Cost? Resourcing the Safety and Well Being of
Queensland’s Children and Young People, Churches
Community Services Forum, Dec 2001, pp 25-31
57CWAV Briefing Notes re Sector Viability Study with
Department of Human Services, Victoria. October 2001.
58Consultancy prepared for the Victorian Department of
Human Services ; Premier & Cabinet and Treasury &
Finance; March 2001
59At What Cost? p 28.
60Sidford. J. Children in Care – Potential Liability, LawFest
2000, State Legal Convention. 27 July 2000.



sadplace's picture

i thing the Kilmany says it all KILL MANY

DoCS kills many.....

Carries place is bad very bad - no service there - scary place. - lots of lesbians and Linda Burnie showing up for photo ops, no service given at all,  just a place full of women who's partners were in jail and all abusing their kids at the refuge, told the workers they did nothing.

years ago - Charmian Clift Cottages did help - but not now - lotsa young chicks who think they know it all and dont really care, Yvonne would be disgusted as would the other caring staff they once had.

barnadoes marketing manager used my husband and I psych report in a advertising campaing "the child wants to live with the foster parents forever" except the psych said dad, she was having sex with dad and is now my babies mother, excellent work Barnadoes and DoCS.

there is big bucks involved, as NGO's they pay little tax, get lots of government funding and administrate till the cows come home. they are in the business of children they dont actually care about them.

i saw my baby this year, she said "how are the kids?" i said they are all grown up now, they are not kids anymore, she said "but mum im still a kid". i had one hour of happiness because the Barnadoes creep was in England and for a minute her dad became human again, all outside of a contact centre all without a need for DoCS all quite normal and quite a wonderful happy reunion without a psychiatrist. my baby said "mum make sure you ring me everynight, my dad will let you, i will tell ya what i do at school and stuff" but then Barnadoes came back from England and her dad said no more phone calls. Maybe Barnadoes threatens people from their own insecurity and fears having marketed so many kids out from their parents for reasons like poverty, Barnadoes comes to Australia gets given a job where she makes add in papers and TV to take Aussie kids off mum and then she actually does it in real life, when mum and dad were still trying to work it out. I wonder how scared dad feels deep inside after DoCS, I wonder who was contacting DoCS management in Sydney before my child was taken, I wonder how deep this entrenched corruption goes.

remember the girl at Tamworth who's mother in law worked for DoCS at Coffs Harbour no less, and had taken the girls kids away from her because her son and the girl split. DoCS workers take money for themselves by taking relatives kids for themselves as well they have no morals at all, they steal from their own children even, i wonder about that girl a lot, and i wonder if the DoCS workers son has to have supervised access. six people met simply due to circumstance one afternoon and four of them had had DoCS take their kids, one of the kids did not survive. how can so many people just sit in silence because of the hurt, shame and embarressment DoCS brought upon them????? the numbers of children removed must be astronomical and how many kids have died over the years???? considering we are not allowed to know about it?????? how many are foster parents causing harm abuse and death and how many are children returned to the wrong parent after custody disputes ect by DoCS, that the rest of us have paid for by the loss of our kids??????? how many are because the family has a relative that works for DoCS????

they just use anything to take, it is insane, and allowable as far as the government is concerned. every child has a right to know their parents and siblings and if they are too poor or sick to go where they are told why is it when DoCS created the problem that DoCS are no longer responsible for keeping that family together, they close the books and walk away and move onto the next one.

I had to DoCS caseworker has to do????????????

ITS JUST FILTHY.... all about shareholders and supporters, coop and corporations, and any donations are tax deductable, ect ect


Lukes Dad's picture

BENNINGTON (KPTM)-- For six months now, Joan has been trying to get her three daughters back from being wards of the state.

She says she's done everything the child welfare system and the courts have required: She took parenting classes, underwent psychological reviews and meets regularly with case workers.

"I would say it (the system) is broken," Joan said.

State lawmakers are talking about seven bills aimed at fixing the system. People have complained---the system lacks financial accountability, costs are going up and it is failing to track how children are doing.

"Essentially, we've had an under funded, broken system for years," said Carolyn Rooker, Executive Director of Voices for Children, an advocacy group.

Rooker said the system should commit more money to preventative care.

"We would have huge rewards and benefits in preventing kids from entering the system," she said.

In December, a special committee of lawmakers came up with 18 recommendations. Among them: Stop using private contractors for case management and return that responsibility to the state. Another suggestion is to create an inspector general to investigate state and private agencies that provide services to children.

Jonathan Athens