The results from the survey completed in January 2018 show little change from the June 2017 survey in the rate of collaboration and cooperation between workers in Government schools (DECD) and those in the Department for Child Protection (DCP). However, DCP and DECD workers see things quite differently with DCP workers consistently rating levels of collaboration and cooperation as higher than their education colleagues.
|Collaboration between between staff of Government schools and DCP workers|
|June 2017 – all responses||7||18||55||20||1||246|
|Jan. 2018 – all responses||5||20||58||15||2||105|
|Jan. 2018 – DCP employees||0||17||67||11||6||18|
|Jan. 2018 – DECD employees||15||22||41||22||0||27|
*n is the number of respondents who felt competent to comment on this aspect of collaboration and cooperation. Where the numbers are small, one should be careful of drawing more than general conclusions.
Comments by DCP workers**
January is not a normal month as a lot of agencies slow down during the Christmas break and school holidays. Otherwise there is a lot of dialogue with schools and DCP.
There is extreme variation of quality and quantity of collaboration and coordination between individuals and agencies involved in the care and protection of children and young people. In my area, it is of particular concern that there is such poor communication between DCP and other government agencies (principally DECD), as well as the NGO sector with regard to the training and development of DCP staff, workforce planning and aligning practice between DCP and non DCP workers who are charged with similar roles in the child protection system. Not only is this poor management and support of the workforce, it contributes to inconsistencies in knowledge, skills and practice and thus poorer outcomes for children and young people.
Comments by DECD workers**
I feel that DCP needs to open up the lines of communication with DECD/schools. Education needs to be given a greater importance then DCP often give it. Connection to education is linked to future outcomes for students.
Lack of communication from DCP with schools and DECD Student Support services; difficult to get DCP workers to attend case meetings; difficult to get a DCP worker to talk to on the phone about one of their clients (e.g. a guardianship child). DCP don’t always put the required consideration in to what school to enrol a guardianship child. (Please note these are general statements, there can be DCP workers who communicate and interact well).
There are times when there is good information sharing and planning between agencies, but other times not so. Seems somewhat dependent on staff involved.
I am as social worker in a Children’s Centre and we work very well with the Department of Child Protection and other government and non-government agencies in relation to supporting children at risk. I believe the only reason why collaboration is not always available is due to lack of resources in relation to the Department of Child Protection given on the ground workers are always operating at full capacity.
DECD Support Services often makes contact with DCP caseworkers regarding children already in care – often without return contact or reply… I make lots of recommendations in my reports and I rarely hear if any of these have been followed up by DCP. Personally have found DCP staff very difficult to contact. Staffing vacancies in the country most likely contribute to this.
Comment by an NGO worker**
In my limited experience of working with young people in care in the public school system, there is very limited communication between DCP and schools. Incidents such as missing person reports, lack of attendance, mental health and physical health, suicide and self harm risks and many other factors that impact upon a young person’s ability to attend and engage in education have not been clearly communicated with the school. This means that we as educators and school support staff are unable to provide the required support to ensure that the young person’s right to an education is upheld.
**Comments have had minor proofing changes. Some comments have been edited for brevity and to minimise repetition.
Analysis and commentary
Although the number of respondents was fewer than in the 2017 survey, there is little change from the June 2018 survey in the rate of collaboration and cooperation between workers in Government schools (DECD) and those in the the Department for Child Protection (DCP). The comments left identify similar issues to those identified in the June 2017 survey.
It is reasonable to expect that cooperation and collaboration should occur ‘always’ or ‘frequently’. By this criterion, DCP respondents, DECD respondents and respondents as a whole give the Government schools-DCP collaboration a substantial ‘fail’.
The respondents’ comments generally suggest that, as the most significant decision makers and holders of information, DCP should be taking the initiative in promoting this collaboration.
As a parent dealing with DCP, I would totally agree with DECD comments. I doubt my comment will be published as I’m not am employee of DCP or DECD bit thought the government should be aware there’s a serious problem with DCP communication in SA.