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Child Protection by lindayy

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Child Protection

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    Child Protection 
    D     isadvantaged Queenslanders are more likely to come into contact with the child protection
          system, which in turn places them at greater risk of intergenerational poverty and abuse.
    The task for policy makers in this area is to break that
    cycle. The stress induced by poverty, past abuse, neglect
    and substance abuse needs to be addressed early to
    avoid the need for costly and difficult crisis responses and
                                                                          Multiple Disadvantage 
    the repetition of abuse and neglect in following                      Some Queenslanders are far more 
    generations. It is widely accepted that prevention and early          likely to suffer poverty and social 
    intervention strategies are far more effective and                    exclusion.  And the effects are 
    economically viable than strategies introduced at the                 multiplied when individuals and 
    tertiary end of the child wellbeing continuum.                        families belong to more than one 
                                                                              group. 
    At 31 March 2009, 7,507 children were in out-of-home                      QCOSS recognises the serious 
    care. This indicates a 33% increase over the past five                    disadvantage faced by: 
    years since 30 June 2005. However, Indigenous children                     Aboriginal and Torres Strait 
    continue to be placed in alternative care at a much higher                    Islander communities 
    and increasing rate. At 31 March 2009 there were 2,587                     People in rural and remote 
    Indigenous children in alternative care - more than double                    communities 
    the 2005 figure                                                            Culturally and linguistically 
    1
     .                                                                            diverse communities 
                                                                               People with a disability 
    Policies and programs addressing the breadth of circumstances              Young people 
    associated with child maltreatment (including poverty, mental              Older people 
    illness, substance abuse, domestic violence); need to be                    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and 
    provided at the universal, secondary, and tertiary levels.                    Transgender communities 
                                        (Bromfield & Holzer, 2008)2


    Key Issues 
    The key issues still needing resolution include:
     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be significantly over represented in
       the child protection system. In 2009 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accounted
       for 34.4% of children in care, while only making up 6.3 % of the population3.

       Child protection data shows that when compared with non-Indigenous children, Aboriginal
        and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly over-represented at all stages of the child
        protection intervention process.

       In Queensland 1 in 7 children have had some form of contact with the child protection
        system – this statistic nearly doubles to 1 in 4.5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
        children4.




 
 
 
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    Once removed from their family’s care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not
     supported to maintain their connections with family, community and culture. (Only 58.2% of
     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were placed with a kinship or Indigenous
     carer. Only 13% of children had regular contact with their extended family).

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 8–9 times as likely to be in the child
     protection system5.

It is essential that we work together to prevent and remediate the damage caused by abuse and neglect.
Investing in early childhood education and care for abused and neglected children will build stronger
families and communities by giving vulnerable children a better, stronger, start to life. Their future is our
future.
                                                (Dr. Alice Hill, President, Children’s Protection Society)6

    Therapeutic treatments for sufferers of trauma in the child protection system are
     underutilised. These are important in the prevention of ongoing trauma and disadvantage.

    Access to basic services and prevention programs in rural and remote Queensland is limited
     and contributes to isolation and social exclusion for children in the child protection system.

    A key issue identified by some participants in the 2009 Social Policy Forums was the
     shortage of carers in rural and remote Queensland which result in children spending long
     amounts of time in inappropriate accommodation, such as pubs and hotels, with little
     supervision.

    CALD communities face additional challenges in the Child Protection system. These issues
     were raised by Social Policy Forum participants in 2008 with no progress reported in 2009.
     They include:
      A lack of education for CALD families about how the child protection system works and
        what legislation exists in Australia;
      A lack of culturally appropriate placement principles for children from CALD
        communities;
      Many Child Safety Officers lack skills in cultural competency;
      A resistance in some Child Safety offices to using interpreters when they are needed
        (because of lack of skills and the cost); and
      A lack of available / reported data around numbers of children in care from different
        cultural communities and rates of reunification.

    Refugee families and advocates report CALD families are not provided with information on
     appropriate parenting strategies. Information on child protection needs to be provided in
     culturally appropriate ways.

Wholesale removal of children will lead to costlier remediation demands throughout their lives as they
require life long provision of services from prisons, mental health, drug rehabilitation, unemployment and
alcohol abuse support systems.
                                                                         (Gail Slocombe, PeakCare, 2007)7

    The lack of investment and support provided to young people leaving care is contributing to
     the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect. In particular these people need intensive
     support to link them with appropriate accommodation and career services. Evidence shows
     the longer young people in the child protection system are supported, the better their life
     outcomes.




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Recognising Progress  
QCOSS acknowledges improvements and significant investment in the area of Child Protection
in Queensland since the 2004 Crime and Misconduct Commission’s inquiry into the abuse of
foster children. QCOSS also commends:
 The development of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

    The commitment of the Premier under the Q2 Blueprint to providing all Queensland children
     with access to a high quality early education service before commencing school and the
     creation of a new Office for Early Childhood Education.

    Moves to establish four residential care houses in Indigenous communities to keep
     Indigenous children in their communities while their needs are being assessed.

    The Department of Child Safety’s continuation of its workforce development strategy


QCOSS Recommendations 
1.   Develop and fund a five-year ‘Stronger Families Strategy’ that outlines the long-term vision
     for supporting families before they get to the point of crisis. The plan would be integrated
     within the Queensland response to the COAG National Framework for Protecting Children.
     In developing the plan, there would be “genuinely consultative approaches that seek [non-
     Government service provider] input into policy development and planning early enough to
     make a difference” (The Queensland Compact, 2008). Investment would include funding for
     service system coordination and evaluation for service improvement.
2.   Increase the proportion of total child and family support service funds allocated to
     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to 22%. (The proportion of funding
     should match the proportion of notifications involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
     children. This figure has recently increased from 19% to 22%.)
3.   Meet the urgent need for more professionals delivering therapeutical support, and more
     flexible funds to allow access to them – for example, detoxification or rehabilitation for drug
     and alcohol dependence, support programs for domestic and family violence, improved
     treatment plans for mental health problems, or tenancy help to prevent homelessness.

4.   Fund new Specialist Secondary Intervention Services to assess families’ strengths, and
     provide counselling and professional support. They would also broker whatever response is
     required to support positive parenting and keep the family or individual from falling further
     into crisis: QCOSS’s members reinforce the strong evidence that people find themselves at
     the crisis end of the system because they were not able to find timely, practical help for
     domestic or family violence, mental health issues, or drug and alcohol dependence.

5.   Fund new Family Support Services to provide broad support to families who are struggling.
     Families who, without help, could slide into the crisis end of the mental health or child
     protection systems, or into homelessness. The services would be primarily accessed by
     ‘self-referral’ – that is, by families seeking help.

     Family support (early intervention) services features:
      Are community based




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           Do not stigmatize

           Are outcome orientated

           Can be delivered within the home

           Are strengths based

           Can link easily to intensive services if needed

           Develop the confidence and competence of parents

6.    Trial two integrated family support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
      delivering ‘right service right time’ support spanning child protection, health and early
      education. The trial has been recommended by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
      peaks. They would commence in Brisbane and Cairns and would be operated through
      existing community controlled health organisations.
Recommendation 4.6
7.    Enhance community capacity and ‘child friendly communities’. Queensland’s early
      intervention service system is missing the unique local focus on social capital – the
      community networks, social opportunities, and physical infrastructure that can facilitate the
      “it takes a village to raise a child” approach. Purposeful local planning can enhance ordinary
      spaces and events (schools, sporting clubs, coffee shops, community organisations,
      carnivals) and enable families to become supported and productive members of their
      neighbourhoods or communities.

Figure 1 ‐ Recs 1‐7 are re‐emphasised in 'QCOSS Budget Submission' (where they are numbered as Recs 4.1‐4.6) 




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8.   Develop a long term evidence-based strategy to address over-representation and improve
     the safety and well being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland.

9. Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care
   are provided regular contact with their families, particularly their siblings.

10. Set a 100% target for adherence to the Indigenous Child Placement Principle. This must
    also include clarity of the definitions for compliance.

11. Review the Child Safety Practice Manual in relation to the pre-placement matching process
    for residential care to ensure each placement is appropriate and safe (for the young person,
    other residents, staff and the organisation). Pre-placement matching review should also
    allow the participation of young people in the decision-making process.

12. Ensure children and young people when placed in care, are able to remain in their
    communities where they can be offered a continuum of care and remain in the community
    connected to those with whom they have built relationships.

13. Young people should be appropriately involved in decisions regarding exit from placements
    and reasonable timeframes must be allocated to allow for smooth transition.




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14. Review the age that people exit care to at least 21 years of age. Additionally invest in
    programs to support those exiting the child protection system secure accommodation and
    pursue their chosen career path. The current provisions are inadequate and place already
    marginalised young people at greater disadvantage.

A landmark study in the US has shown youth who remain in state care until aged 21 are three and half
times more likely to attend university, earn 17 per cent more for each additional year in care, and are 38
per cent less likely to become pregnant between ages 17-19.
                                                                              (Centre for Children, 2007)8

15. Partner with the sector to develop a ‘CALD community strategic plan’ that includes:
     Communication strategies for CALD parents including informing them of their rights and
        responsibilities.

         Collecting data and information in relation to people from refugee backgrounds to
          ascertain the extent of the issues and their needs.

          Collection of data on numbers of children in care from different cultural communities
           and rates of reunification.

         Funding for community driven programs that highlight the benefits of positive parenting
          and include the development of parenting strategies.

         Increasing efforts to maintain the culture and language of children placed in care.

         Community education to raise awareness of the support services available.

16. Instigate a project to review the impact of disability on the child protection system. The
     project would be enabled by the new Department of Communities’ span that includes family
     and individual support, disability and child protection. Partnering with the sector, the project
     would provide the evidence base for a ‘Disability in the Child Protection System strategic
     plan’ to articulate a long term strategy to address issues such as system gaps and over-
     laps, inappropriate entry, and transition planning.

17. Focus on the workforce development strategy on workforce qualifications, skills base and
    advanced training to ensure quality service provision. Ensure the skills and qualifications of
    workers are commensurate with the complexity and advanced skills required for working
    with traumatized children and young people.

Advocating for children’s best interests in the child protection and out-of-home care system now means
challenging the very assumptions, policies and practices of the current system and looking for new
approaches. It also presupposes a renewed emphasis on early intervention with a particular focus on
promoting children’s wellbeing, not just preventing abuse and neglect.
                                               (Judy Cashmore, Centre for Children and Young People)9



                                                                   

 

 

 




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1
  Department of Child Safety Final Report July 2008 - March 2009. Accessed online http://www.childsafety.qld.gov.au
2
  Bromfield, L. M., & Holzer, P. J. (2008). Protecting Australian children: Analysis of challenges and strategic directions, CDSMC
                                                              th
National Approach for Child Protection Project. Accessed 5 October 2008. http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/research/menu.html#cdsmac
3
  Department of Child Safety Budget Highlights 2007-08. Accessed online http://www.childsafety.qld.gov.au/
4
  Department of Child Safety Final Report July 2008 - March 2009. Accessed online http://www.childsafety.qld.gov.au
5
  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, A picture of Australia’s children 2009, Canberra http://www.aihw.gov.au
6
  Alice Hill, 2008, “Shocking Childhoods”, Online Opinion, www.onlineopinion.com.au/article=7873, accessed 6 October 2008.
7
  Slocombe, G, (2007), “Submission to the State Budget Process 2008-09”, PeakCare, Queensland.
8
  Mark Courtney et.al., (2007), “Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of former foster youth,” Chapin Hill Centre for Children;
University of Chicago.
9
  Judy Cashmore, 2008, “A decade later: issues in the care and protection of children”, Reform, Australian Law Reform
Commission, iss. 92; p36.




                                                                                            This paper is part of QCOSS’s ‘policy
                                                                                            platform’ that contains over 20 policy
                                                                                            papers.
                                                                                            Go to www.qcoss.org.au for other
                                                                                            papers including – Mental Health,
                                                                                            Violence Prevention, and Social
                                                                                            Inclusion.




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                                                                                           (off Beesley St), West End Qld 4101
                                                                                           PO Box 3786, South Brisbane Qld 4101

                                                                                           Ph: (07) 3004 6900 Fax: (07) 3004 6999
                                                                                           Toll Free 1800 651 255
                                                                                           Email: qcoss@qcoss.org.au
                                                                                           Website: www.qcoss.org.au




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