Improving services and lives for children in care
Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward today announced a significant step in the NSW Government’s plan to transfer the provision of out-of-home care to the non-government sector, as recommended by The Hon James Wood AO QC.
“The O’Farrell Government is getting on with the job of real reform to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children and young people,” Ms Goward said.
“We have now finalised a highly competitive tender that will secure improved out-of-home care for children and young people across NSW.
“Up to 6,800 children and young people who cannot live safely with their families will be better supported following the awarding of $123 million to 38 non-government organisations to provide out-of-home care services.
“Following the shocking deaths of several children known to the Department of Community Services, a Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW was set up by the previous Government. The Hon James Wood AO QC handed down his report in November 2008.
“One of his key independent recommendations was to transfer out-of-home care to non-government agencies which are better placed to support and improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people in out-of-home care.”
Justice Wood’s report stated (page 656): “Casework for children and young persons both entering and in out-of-home care who are under the management of DoCS [now Community Services] can often be neglected due to prioritisation of crisis driven work.”
He continued (page 656): “NGOs have smaller and less formalised management structures and often have great capability to implement reform and innovative service models more quickly than government agencies.”
Ms Goward said that, true to form, the former Labor Government agreed with and promoted this recommendation but failed to make this improvement in services for vulnerable children and young people.
“The NSW Government knows this is an important recommendation to ensure children are given the best care possible when they are removed from unsafe environments,” she said.
Ms Goward said 38 agencies, including 18 new providers, have been awarded total funding of $123,941,000 over four years to provide secure, stable and safe places for the State’s most vulnerable children.
“The tender attracted applications from 86 service providers which were assessed by seven regional assessment panels, overseen by independent probity advisers,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies Andrew McCallum AM welcomed the progress on the transfer.
“This announcement is another cornerstone in the Government’s commitment to the provision of out-of-home care services by accredited non-government organisations as per Justice Wood’s recommendation,” Mr McCallum said.
“It further emphasises the collaborative relationship that is being forged between the Government and non-government sector to ensure the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and families in NSW.”
CEO of The Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat NSW Bill Pritchard welcomed the expansion of the non-government sector.
“This tender process has identified 11 Aboriginal agencies that will be delivering out-of-home care services in the future, up from the current number of just seven,” Mr Pritchard said.
“This growth will include expansion of current agencies, new agencies being established and Aboriginal agencies partnering with accredited non-Aboriginal service providers.
“This increase in Aboriginal agencies aims to achieve our goal that all Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care are better cared for by Aboriginal carers, supported by Aboriginal caseworkers in locally managed Aboriginal agencies over the next 10 years.
“The Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat will be supporting the new and growing agencies to build their capacity and provide the best outcomes for Aboriginal children in care,” Mr Pritchard said.