Two weeks ago we asked our colleagues and friends to spend a hypothetical $100 to improve child protection in South Australia. These were their top five choices:
#1 More early intervention and family support (29.6%)
The range of comment showed that this meant different things to different people. Varying interpretations included using education and public campaigns to reduce unwanted pregnancies, decreasing the social isolation of parents, removing children from ‘failed’ mothers or families at birth and building the capacity of struggling families to become suitable parents. Several respondents noted that supporting Aboriginal families entailed culturally suitable practice, engaging Aboriginal communities and the use of Aboriginal staff.
#2 More therapeutic placements for children in care (10.1%)
Trauma-informed care, therapeutic placements and related matters occurred very often in the comments. Training in understanding a responding to trauma was proposed for foster and kinship carers, residential care workers, social workers and even management and policy makers.
#3 More effort to recruit foster carers and kinship carers (8.5%)
Good family-based care was noted as the best out-of-home care placement option by many respondents. Poor remuneration, lack of support and bad treatment at the hands of DCP and NGO staff were cited as reasons why families did not take up fostering or did not return to it. More rigorous selection, training and review for foster carers could improve the quality of foster care and make it a more attractive option for more people.
#4 More psychological services for children in care (8.3%)
Comments included many calls for much greater access to psychological services for children entering and during their time in care. This was seen by some as a natural complement to therapeutic care.
#5 More child protection report investigators (8.2%)
Comment on this was limited and concerned mostly the conduct of investigations and the interface with the court system. A report on the lack of response to child protection reports by the former Families SA was current at the time of the survey, which may have influenced responses.