The future of child protection

Column Articles
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

We all know in our hearts, the importance of our children.  Most of our young are well loved, but too many are vulnerable to harm and hurt.   We are determined to ensure young children in the care of the state are well looked after.  Unfortunately the Children and Young Families Service has not delivered consistently for our young people. 

The recent review highlighted major challenges. The review outlined that although we provide immediate support to the situation the longevity of the solution is often compromised. 64% of the 61,000 children who were reported to CYFS in 2014 had a previous notification, this means that although children are being identified, the support offered does not ensure a long term positive outcome. This is important because from the children that have been through the CYFS care system from the year 1991 almost 90% are on a benefit, almost 80% did not finish school and more than 30% have had a Youth Justice referral by age 18. This clearly shows that the current system is not supporting our children to allow them to reach their full potential.

The future system must always put the child at the centre of the service delivery.  It will add children’s teams and intensive intervention, partnered responses and an involvement of NGO services. Health and education services will also be deployed as required.  This shift will see prevention and long term outcomes a priority rather than moving children from family to family and setting them up for years of challenges as an adult.

The approach will be cross agency. It will include the government, NGOs, universal services and current services. The future system will look to create a single point of accountability for the funding of the services for vulnerable children using an investment approach that targets future liability.

These changes will require extensive legislative change to ensure that the system is child centred, it will create a new accountability framework and it will enhance information sharing abilities across legislation including the Children Young, Persons and their Families Act and work is beginning on it now.

Together we must and can protect our most vulnerable.