Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum
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ISSUES in CHILD PROTECTION and OUT-OF-HOME CARE Peaks Forum. January 2008. Judy Cashmore. Terms of Reference. To examine, report on and make recommendations in relation to:

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Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

ISSUES in CHILD PROTECTION andOUT-OF-HOME CAREPeaks Forum

January 2008

Judy Cashmore


Terms of reference

Terms of Reference

  • To examine, report on and make recommendations in relation to:

  • The system for reporting of child abuse and neglect, including mandatory reporting, reporting thresholds and feedback to reporters;

  • Management of reports, including the adequacy and efficiency of systems and processes for intake, assessment, prioritisation, investigation and decision-making;

  • Management of cases requiring ongoing work, including referrals for services and monitoring and supervision of families;

  • Recording of essential information and capacity to collate and utilise data about the child protection system to target resources efficiently;

  • Professional capacity and professional supervision of the casework and allied staff;

  • The adequacy of the current statutory framework for child protection including roles and responsibilities of mandatory reporters, DoCS, the courts and oversight agencies;

  • The adequacy of arrangements for inter-agency cooperation in child protection cases;

  • The adequacy of arrangements for children in out of home care;

  • The adequacy of resources in the child protection system..


Issues in child protection

Issues in child protection

  • Increasing reports / notifications – inadequate response

  • Concern that definitions of abuse and neglect are too broad – ‘risk of harm’ vs ‘significant harm’

  • Under-reporting and over-reporting

  • Concern about forensic investigative response rather than holistic response to child’s needs – 2002 inquiry

  • Poor risk assessment ? Unrealistic expectations

  • Need for proactive preventive approach, not just reactive response


Main issues in out of home care

Main issues in out-of-home care

  • Multi-problem families esp parental violence, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness

  • Particular concern re infants and neglect esp Indigenous families

  • Managing reunification – longer term support needed

  • Increasing concern about failures of system

  • Shortage of appropriate foster carersesp Indigenous families

    • Increasing expectations

    • Increasingly difficult care-giving

  • Lack of specialist workers – low priority work, relationship with children?


Response to maltreatment allegations

Response to maltreatment allegations

  • Duty to investigate all reports?

    • Ability to prioritise?

    • Over-burdened services -> labeling but no service

  • Mandatory reporting

    • Who should report what? (s.29)

    • Rgularising reporters – previously by law, regulation, direction etc

  • Inter-agency responsibility

  • Partnership with parents and families?

  • Need for proper assessment re immediate safety, risk of harm, needs of child and family

     Focus on outcomes for children rather than actions of parents/carers


Legislative changes 1998 act

Legislative changes 1998 Act

  • Purpose of definition – reports vs requests for assistance (esp ‘inadequate provision’ vs poverty)

  • Different levels of severity for:

    • Reporting abuse – mandatory reporting

    • Responding to abuse

    • Taking court action

  • Clearer focus on current concerns based on severity and chronicity and harm or risk of harm

  • Inclusion of exposure to domestic violence and homelessness but ‘serious psychological harm’


Understanding the figures

Understanding the figures

  • NSW DoCS cf AIHW figures

  • Changes over time

  • Children vs reports

  • Interpreting the figures

    • Increased awareness and reporting ?

    • Increased abuse and neglect?


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Based on figure from Eric Scott (2006)


Nsw docs cf aihw figures

NSW DoCS cf AIHW figures

  • Very similar trends for number of reports but AIHW lower in number of reports

    • Not include ‘child protection concerns’

    • Both DoCS and AIHW count each child in the family - include one report per child if more than one child per family

    • AIHW counts more than one report about the same ‘event’ as one report

    • DoCS figures suggest that on average DoCS receives two reports per child


Nsw docs cf aihw figures1

NSW DoCS cf AIHW figures

  • Very similar trends and numbers for number of children:

    • 2005-6: no of children reported / notified

      • NSW DoCS: 109,568

      • AIHW: 85,302 [99,949 in 2006-7] *

    • 2005-6: no of children in substantiated reports

      • NSW DoCS: 12,956 (3,771 at risk; 9,185 actual harm)

      • AIHW: 12,627 [13,769 in 2006-7] *


Nsw cf victoria

NSW cf Victoria

  • Quite similar numbers of reports till 2000-01 ie 30-40,000 [AIHW figures]

  • Victoria consistently around 36-37,000 this decade

  • NSW increased from 30,398 in 2000-01

    • to .... 55,208 in 2001-02

    • and ....109,498 in 2002-03

    • and ...189,928 in 2006-07


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Based on AIHW figures


Source of reports 2005 06

SOURCE OF REPORTS2005-06

* Finalised, not substantiated


Nsw docs figures 2005 6

NSW DoCS figures 2005-6


Reasons for increased reports substantiations

Reasons for increased reports, substantiations ?

  • Broadened definitions of abuse and neglect

    • eg physical abuse/punishment; exposure to violence

  • Lowered threshold – ‘risk of harm’ / “serious psychological harm”

  • Expansion of mandatory reporting ...

  • Defensive reporting - $22,000 fine ?

  • Frustrated reporting – renotifications – lack of services?

  • Increased recording – centralised call centres cf local CSCs

  • Gateway to early intervention services via child protection system in NSW?

  • Increased ‘investigations  [more substantations]

  • Increasing societal ‘risk aversiveness’ – decreasing tolerance

  • Increasing incidence /awareness of parental substance abuse, family violence, mental health – Vic report; NSW DoCS data


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Source: KiDS Annual Statistical Extracts and Corporate Information Warehouse annual data. Produced by, DoCS Information and Reporting.

Source: KiDS Annual Statistical Extracts and Corporate Information Warehouse annual data.


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Source: CIS & KiDS annual statistical extracts, Corporate Information Warehouse annual data.

Produced by, DoCS Information and Reporting.

Child protection reports by primary reported issue,

2004-05 & 2005-06


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Source: KiDS Annual Statistical Extract, Corporate Information Warehouse annual data. Produced by: Information and Reporting.


Forensic vs holistic approach approach

Forensic vsHolistic approach approach

  • Focus on early intervention

  • Less adversarial

  • What is needed to ensure child’s safety, welfare and well-being?

    • Family support

    • Comprehensive assessment

    • Context and cumulative harm

    • Range of options

  • Search for evidence

  • What happened to whom?

  • Who is responsible?

  • Focus on substantiating allegations

  • Focus on individual incidents of reported abuse / neglect


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Table 4.3: Number of children aged 0–17 years in out-of-home care, states and territories, 30 June 1997 to 30 June 2007

* 7,892 Indigenous (27.7%)


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Table 4.7: Rates of children in out-of-home care, states and territories, 30 June 1997 to 30 June 2007 (per 1,000 children)

* Indigenous rate: 36.1

cf non-Indigenous: 4.4


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Table 5.1: Number of children aged 0–17 years commencing intensive family support services, by age at commencement of service, states and territories, 2006–07


Issues in child protection and out of home care peaks forum

Table 3.6: Children on care and protection orders, by type of order, states and territories, at 30 June 2007


Implications

Implications

  • Sustainability

  • Dealing with increased ‘reporting’

  • Dealing with increased abuse, neglect, inadequate parenting

  • Resources for children in out-of-home care

  • Indigenous children

  • Coherence of legislation, policy and practice


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