Family group conferencing, a new online carer platform and expanded permanency options are part of the State Government’s new plan to modernise South Australia’s care system for our most vulnerable children and young people.
Every effort for every child: South Australia’s strategy for children and young people in care is a three-year strategy outlining plans to modernise the care system, focusing on better, long-term outcomes for children and young people requiring care.
It recognises children coming into care have increasingly complex and challenging needs, requiring a responsive and flexible system.
The new strategy consolidates future actions, with work that is already underway within five priority areas that include:
- Delivering a needs-based system that can respond to the diverse needs of children and young people.
- Growing family-based care by recruiting more foster care families, finding kinship carers and better supporting all carers.
- Transforming non-family based care to be consistently therapeutic, culturally appropriate and responsive.
- Improving transition from care to give young people in care the same opportunities as others.
- Enhancing quality and safeguarding across the system.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said child protection was a priority and the new strategy formed part of the government’s broader plan to protect the state’s children and young people.
“The Government is working hard everyday to continue to improve outcomes for our must vulnerable children and young people,” said Minister Sanderson.
She said the strategy had a strong focus on therapeutic, individualised care.
“Children coming into the care system have often experienced significant trauma and need extensive support and that’s why we need a modern system that understands and responds to this trauma and helps children and young people to heal from the moment they enter care.
“We are committing to a range of actions, such as introducing carer clinics to connect carers with therapeutic specialists and improving assessments when children enter care to better match them to the right placements.”
Other key actions outlined in the new strategy include:
- Trialling family group conferences to empower family and community members to identify strategies to keep children and young people safe.
- Introducing individualised placement and support packages to provide children entering care with immediate, individualised short-term residential care based on their unique needs.
- Connecting residential carers with therapeutic specialists to enhance interactions with children with complex needs.
- Expanding permanency options for children and young people, including adoption.
- Recommissioning Supported Independent Living Services to help young people transition to independent adult life and to prevent homelessness.
The State Government has already made numerous improvements to the system including:
- Began reducing the number of children in large residential care facilities.
- Appointed a Lead Psychiatric Director and established a specialist disability team.
- Established an Aboriginal Lead Practitioner and non-Aboriginal Lead Practitioner.
- Increased family-based placements by more than 270 from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.
- Reformed foster care agency contracts to better support carers and support family-based placements.
- Extended payments to carers to support young people from 18 to age 21.
- Implemented new child safety legislation.
- Began an extensive program of contracting and procurement reform.
- Grew our procurement from Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to 5.7 per cent.
Every effort for every child was developed following extensive consultation with more than 1,500 carers, staff, service providers and other government agencies.