The Liberal Government has reduced the average cost of care per child within the state’s child protection system in 2018-19 through increasing family-based care options and contract reform.
The 2019 Auditor General’s Annual Report reveals the average cost of care per child has decreased 12 per cent from $76,470 in 2017-18 to $67,130 in 2018-19.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said she was pleased with the results – but said that there was more work to be done.
“There’s still a lot of work to do but it’s promising to see some positive results from the significant reforms that have already been implemented,” said Minister Sanderson.
“Since we came into Government in March 2018, the Liberal Government has been working hard everyday to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children and young people.
“One of the reasons we have been able to reduce the average cost of care per child in South Australia is through increasing family-based care options compared to the more expensive and less desirable forms of out-of-home care such as residential and commercial care.
“Foster care recruitment and retaining our wonderful and selfless carers in the system is one of my main aims and we are also better scoping kin.
“We know that stability and permanency is important for good outcomes for our children and foster care gives young people an opportunity to have a family when they’re not able to live with their biological family, for whatever reason.
“Whilst children continue to come into care and whilst we have children in residential care, I remain committed to continuing to recruit foster carers.”
The Department for Child Protection has been able to manage the growth of children coming into care by increasing family-based care and this care option now accounts for about 86 per cent of all placements.
This growth in family-based care has predominantly been achieved through significant reforms in contracting and procurement, including incentives to not-for-profit organisations for providing growth in family-based care services.
There have also been other targeted foster care recruitment strategies including the development of a foster care recruitment and retention taskforce and a new foster care recruitment website.
Other new, Liberal Government improvements in child protection include:
• Implemented Stability in Family Based Care program, which provides extended carer payments for young people up to the age of 21 since January 1, 2019.
• Broadened qualifications to accept degree level qualifications that relate to child protection, to increase front-line staff.
• Committed $1.6 million to introduce Family Group Conferencing from January 2020.
• Consulted and developing a new adoption from care policy for South Australia.
• Recruited 50 foster carers in 12 months – and counting.
• Closed the 12-bed Queenstown residential care unit.
• Developed a new out of home care model to better support Aboriginal children and young people in care.
• Announced and funded new pilot programs – in Adelaide’s North and West – specifically developed for families at risk of having their children enter the child protection system.
• Consolidated a new Community and Family Services Division in the Department of Human Services.
• Appointed a cross-government Taskforce, which is looking at how best to support families before children are removed.
• New legislation – the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 – came into effect on October 22, 2018, which puts the voice of the child front and centre.
• Released the Department’s first Reconciliation Action Plan and Aboriginal Action Plan.
• Promoting the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal employees in the Department, which is currently 5 per cent – one the of highest rates in SA.
• We have increased frontline staff, more calls are being answered and investigations undertaken.