The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of additional funding in its upcoming budget into frontline child protection work, but says investment into prevention and early intervention must be the ultimate priority if NSW is to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.
Under the budget measure, a total $63 million will be allocated over the next four years to boost the number of caseworkers who deal with children and families at risk of harm. The money will also fund additional staff to support caseworkers in this critical work.
While extremely pleased to see the issue of child protection well and truly on the government’s radar, ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum says until substantial dollars are poured into preventative measures that provide better support for vulnerable families then the number of children and young people entering care will continue to climb.
“There are unintended consequences associated with focusing solely on the crisis end of child protection,” Mr McCallum said.
“While superficially it might seem to be the right way forward, child protection without referral pathways that support families who are struggling with issues such as housing, domestic violence and mental illness can be catastrophic, and is what inevitably drives children into care.
“This is not the outcome we are looking for and ACWA hopes to see a major investment into initiatives that proactively address the causal factors of child abuse and neglect when the government hands down its budget next week.”
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies is the NSW peak body representing non-government organisations which provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.