Children not enrolled in ECEC more at risk, QFCC report finds
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Children not enrolled in ECEC more at risk, QFCC report finds

Children not enrolled in ECEC more at risk, QFCC report finds

by Freya Lucas

September 21, 2023

The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) has said that not attending an early childhood education facility was one of three key themes which may influence whether or not a child who is known to the child protection system dies. 


As indicated by the opening paragraph, this article discusses sensitive themes, which the reader should be aware of prior to continuing to engage with the story. 


The Lessons from life-story timelines of 30 children who have died report explores the common themes found in the life trajectories of 30 children, all of whom were known to the Queensland child protection system, and all of whom have died. 


“The report shows there are clear patterns in the lives of children known to child safety who have died and confirms what those in the sector know—that schools and early childhood education programs are a protective factor for children and young people, and that their geographic location impacts access to services,” QFCC Principal Commissioner Luke Twyford said.


The learnings from these children’s deaths provide an opportunity for systemic improvements to better protect and safeguard children and young people across Queensland.


Aside from not attending an early childhood education facility, other common themes were a lack of services for children, young people and families living in regional or remote Queensland, and disengagement from school. 


Queensland’s Child Death Review Board (CDRB) produces detailed timelines of system interactions when conducting reviews into the deaths of children. These timelines give a clear story about each child and family’s interactions with services, including health, early childhood services, school and child protection.


The QFCC took a fresh look into the deaths of 30 children reviewed by the board, closely examining timelines to identify commonalities that could lead to learnings for systemic improvements.


From the analysis, three key themes emerged:


  • Education is a protective factor – the importance of attending and engaging with school can help determine if a school-aged child’s life is at risk. Prolonged absence and/or disengagement from education increases their risk.


  • For children under five years of age, enrolment and attendance at an early childhood education centre can assist with greater visibility of a child and family’s needs, and referrals to services for support.


  • Living in remote or regional Queensland impacts access to services that can meet the safety needs of young people, including culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. The more remote, the less opportunity children and families had to access services.


Learnings from the review will provide evidence of children and families’ experiences with various government systems, enabling improvements to the delivery of services.


“While we can’t hear the voices of the children who are represented in these timelines, we can certainly honour their memory and learn from their experiences,” Mr Twyford said.


“The evidence gathered by the Board through this review is an opportunity for further systemic improvements in saving the lives of children and young people.”


To view the report please see here

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