Therapeutic care for all children in state care


2 May, 2017


Most, if not all, children who are taken into care will be experiencing trauma. It will have been caused, if not by prior abuse and neglect, by the dislocation of their lives caused by the experience of coming into care.

Commissioner Nyland’s October 2016 report recommended that the principles of therapeutic care be applied in working with children across the child protection system and the Government’s response in December 2016 broadly agreed.

Their commitments included:

  • The application of a therapeutic framework across all residential care environments (R 146).
  • Providing therapeutic support to family-based placements that are at risk or under stress (R 84).
  • Development of a therapeutic needs assessment panel led by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for children in care whose therapeutic needs are identified in their initial health assessment (R 86).
  • Reviewing the assessment and training of foster carers to include training on recognising and managing trauma-related behaviours and information about access to therapeutic assistance (R112).
  • Supporting and training carers who are registered to general agencies to transfer to therapeutic agencies where the needs of children in their care require it (R121).
  • Development of a streamed model of residential care with provision for care for children with high therapeutic needs (R146).
  • Recognition of the need to deliver therapeutic services to children in care but the Department for Child Protection may do it in collaboration with SA Health (R 218).
  •  The establishment of secure therapeutic care facilities where young people in care could be detained under a court order for a period of time during which they would receive therapy (R 152). [Please note that, although the Commissioner sets out a number of safeguards and conditions, the Guardian continues to have reservations about the model producing significant long-term benefits for the young people so detained and that the detention of young people who have committed no offence raises important human rights concerns.]


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