media release

Record funding to help more children in care safely reunite with their parents

Our most vulnerable families will be able to benefit from significant reforms to the State Government’s family reunification services, which is providing record funding and additional specialised support to help keep families together.

The State Government is investing a record $57.4 million in funding over nine years to improve these services and reconnect children and young people in out-of-home care with their birth parents.

The funding is expected to support approximately 200 families per year, providing children and young people with the best possible chance of being safely and permanently reunified with their families.

Eight organisations have received funding to run these services – up from seven previously.

Family reunification services are offered where reunification is identified as safe and possible, the parent acknowledges the child protection concerns, is prepared to address them and wants their child to return home.

Through family reunification services, families whose children have entered short term care to keep them safe are offered intensive support to improve their wellbeing and parenting capacity. Referred families experience multiple, complex challenges, including intergenerational trauma, significant mental health issues, substance misuse, domestic and family violence.

The strengthened services will operate from 1 July 2021 and follow an extensive review and a public tender process. Changes include:

- Additional support for Aboriginal families through the introduction of a new Aboriginal-run service, Bookyana Cultural and Community Services.
- DCP staff will be able to refer families as early as possible to these services. Each service will now offer infant-specific support.
- The introduction of a fee-for-services model, to ensure we get the most from taxpayer funding.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the family reunification services have been consolidated and strengthened to support the State Government’s priority of keeping children and young people with their birth family where it is safe to do so.

“We want to increase the number of children being reunited safely with their families and know our family reunification services play a crucial role in helping to achieve this,” said Minister Sanderson.

“Our refreshed services have an emphasis on supporting parents to address the underlying issues impacting their ability to provide emotionally and physically safe care for their children, as well as addressing practical issues such as the physical condition of the home environment.

“The addition of Bookyana Cultural and Community Services supports the State Government’s priority of addressing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care.”

The services will work with families throughout South Australia, including in remote and regional communities such as Ceduna, Port Augusta and Mt Gambier and will support children and young people of all ages.