OzChild uses Children’s Week to highlight the importance of early intervention
OzChild, the largest provider of evidence-based and evidence-informed foster and kinship care programs in Australia, has used this year’s Children’s Week theme “Children have the right to good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that they will stay healthy” to highlight that health includes overall wellbeing, and the right to live safely at home.
Sadly, OzChild Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa J. Griffiths said that according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Child Protection Australia report, around 158,600 — or one in 35 children received child protection services in 2017–18.
“These figures paint a very grim picture for Australian children. Way too many children required child protection services last year and the number continues to grow. It is imperative, through greater investment in early intervention strategies, for the system to evolve to ensure better outcomes for children and families,” Dr Griffiths added.
Children can be best supported, OzChild believes, by creating safe and nurturing environments and by supporting parents to care for and nurture their children, to prevent child abuse and neglect. This preparation, they said, is imperative in turning the tide on the number of children receiving child protection services in Australia.
“72 per cent of children who received child protection services were repeat clients. Intervening early gives us the greatest chance at keeping children out of residential care or the foster care system, breaking the cycle of disadvantage so many of these children face,” Dr Griffiths noted.
Over the two years to 2017/18 the number of children entering out-of-home care in NSW has fallen by 44.5 per cent. NSW now has the lowest rate of children and young people admitted to out-of-home care. OzChild credits this to their delivery of Multisystemic Therapy – Child Abuse and Neglect and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare in NSW as part of the Their Futures Matter strategy to overhaul the coordination and delivery of services to vulnerable children, young people and families.
“There is no doubt in my mind the investment in evidence-based early intervention programs in NSW has contributed to these significant reductions,” Dr Griffiths added, emphasising the need for greater investment in programs targeted at early intervention and prevention.