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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?



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



Source of reports 2005 06
SOURCE OF REPORTS2005-06

* Finalised, not substantiated



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


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.


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


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


Forensic vs holistic approach approach
Forensic Information Warehouse annual data. Produced by: Information and ReportingvsHolistic 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


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%)


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


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


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


Implications
Implications of order, states and territories, at 30 June

  • 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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