The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) says residential care services hold a critical place within the child protection system to help children and young people who come into care with multiple problems recover from abuse and neglect and move on to lead fulfilling, productive lives.
ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum has described last night’s Four Corners program, which included distressing accounts by a number of former employees, as a harrowing and sobering warning of what can happen to children and young people when there are inadequate policies and procedures in place, but refutes claims aired during the program that the system is broken.
“It would be a tragedy to demonise an entire service sector as a result of the program’s content,” Mr McCallum said.
“International research tells us that that when delivered properly, residential care services can profoundly alter the life courses of young people scarred by childhood neglect and abuse. For some young people it is the care of choice.”
The young people who are placed in residential care are generally the most severely traumatised and troubled group within the out-of-home care population. They arrive with complex emotional and behavioural needs that require a planned programmatic approach. The current move in NSW towards the commissioning of ‘therapeutic care’- an evidence based, holistic care approach – should further embed high standards of care as the norm.
“In NSW, residential care services using strong models of care are already achieving amazing results for young people and it is extremely heartening to see the state work towards developing and implementing a new residential care system that will ensure the core elements of therapeutic care are practised consistently,” Mr McCallum said.
“It is the shared responsibility of both Government agencies and service providers to ensure that this most fragile population receives the highest quality of care possible. It’s pretty simple – children should not be placed in services where they are not being provided with high standards of care.
“The utmost diligence must be exercised during the referral process to ensure children and young people are placed in the type of care that best suits their needs.”
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies is the New South Wales peak body representing non-government organisations which provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.