Last week, the Queensland Family and Child Commissioner was due to report back to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Blue Card and Foster Care Systems Review, undertaken by an expert panel. One of the terms of reference for this review was:
Review Child Safety Services within the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to determine whether it is operating effectively, including engaging with frontline staff through targeted consultation to determine any capacity issues ore pressure points in meeting the safety needs of children in the Child Protection System.
Together delegates provided direct feedback to the Review about what Child Safety staff were experiencing at the Service Centre level. There are many pressing issues within Child Safety that need addressing – such as workloads, the impact of the court work and other reforms, and child-related costs that do not meet what is needed – that stem from systemic under-resourcing. Together members have recently been successful in securing extra positions for Child Safety, which is a huge win, but it’s not enough.
The current funding arrangement for Child Safety is based on population growth and not on what actually matters - intakes responded to, cases opened and children in care, for example. We know that the demographics and issues of a lot of Queensland communities have changed dramatically, but funding for Child Safety hasn’t.
We hope that the Review will recommend more resources for Child Safety. However, we can’t keep up this reactive cycle of funding boosts as a band-aid quick fix. The Premier has an opportunity while considering the government’s response to these Reviews to make a real change for Child Safety in 2017 and beyond.
The funding model for Child Safety must be addressed now – Queensland’s children can’t wait
We call on your government to implement a sustainable funding model that recognises the important work that Child Safety does. While we appreciate the additional resources the Palaszczuk government has contributed to Child Safety, the department has been systemically under-funded for too many years. Workloads have increased with the implementation of more recent Child and Family Reforms, and the families we work with are now, in many cases, more complex and intensive.
The current funding model for Child Safety – based on population growth, and not the number of matters such as investigations, cases opened and children in care – does not allow us to fulfil our important role to the fullest. We want to be able to make real change for the families we work with, so we call on you to make a real change to the way Child Safety is funded. Queensland’s children can’t wait.