Reformed out-of-home-care to drive better outcomes

13 Mar 2012

Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward today announced that the Government has made significant progress towards meeting its election commitment to transfer out-of-home care (OOHC) to non-government organisations (NGOs), as recommended by Justice James Wood.

New improved sustainable arrangements have been agreed, including innovative incentives for better outcomes, such as adoption.

The NSW Government has also launched a tender inviting new and existing NGOs to deliver more OOHC services for the state’s most vulnerable children.

Minister Goward said the NSW Government has been able to start this key reform less than one year into Government, something Labor failed to even begin during its term in office.

“The NSW Government has done in less than one year what Labor failed to do in 16 years.”

35 of 37 NGOs, have agreed to reformed arrangements covering 96.4% of the contracted placements. This sets NSW up for a better system where NGOs manage all children and young people in statutory care.

Remaining NGOs continue to discuss the new arrangements with Community Services.

Ms Goward said uniform unit prices and incentives now apply for agencies providing OOHC placements.

“Under Labor, agencies looking after children and young people with similar needs were funded substantially different amounts – this resulted in massive unsustainable cost overruns in the OOHC system,” Ms Goward said.

“This new funding system is focused on better outcomes for young people.

“Migrating from Labor’s unsustainable system to build better OOHC services poses different challenges throughout the sector, including for Community Services. I appreciate the genuine partnership the NSW Government is forging with the NGO sector.

“These are the biggest reforms NSW has seen in OOHC. The path to improved services will be long and at times bumpy, undoing as it must Labor’s legacy and driving reform to improve services.

“The NSW Government reforms are about building the capacity of the whole child protection system – government and non-government – to improve services and outcomes for young people.

“That’s why we have also opened a tender for new non-government organisations to provide OOHC services in NSW.”

Minister Goward said increasing NGO capacity as well as working better and smarter within government is vital to our reform agenda to improving the lives of children and young people in OOHC in NSW.

“Importantly, flexibility has been built into the new system so that where a child or young person has additional needs beyond their funded level of care, additional resources can be arranged,” Ms Goward said.

“New uniform unit costs apply to agencies that manage general foster care, intensive foster care, residential care and intensive residential care placements.

“This Government is working closely with some agencies transitioning from Labor’s mismanaged contracts and wildly variable unit costs. These improved arrangements are designed to maintain and indeed improve services for children and young people currently in the 3379 placements with existing agencies.

“This successful re-negotiation of unit costs and OOHC contracts with NGO service providers means NSW is finally working towards a more viable OOHC system.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) Andrew McCallum welcomed the agreement.

“ACWA commends the Minster for finally starting to deliver real out-of-home care reform, while acknowledging what has at times been a difficult negotiation process,” Mr McCallum said.

“The finalisation of contracts, however, marks only the very beginning of long awaited child protection reform in NSW that needs to have early intervention, diversion, restoration and permanency planning at its very core.

“The non-government sector looks forward to working in close partnership with the NSW Government, now and into the future, to ensure this becomes the reality for vulnerable families and children.” Mr McCallum said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Child, Family & Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec) Bill Pritchard said it is heartening to see how much progress has been made in such a short period.

“There is lots more to do but the goodwill and cooperation shown between the government and non-government sectors leads me to believe that this huge reform is achievable and will lead to better outcomes for all children and young people.

“These reforms are especially relevant to achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities and fits neatly with the work of the Government’s Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs,” Mr Pritchard said.

Ms Goward said Labor in Government talked and spun endlessly to cover up its inability to deliver real reforms to improve services.

“To hide its record of shame Labor can only pretend that 16 years of failure didn’t leave children and the system in desperate need of improvement.”

MEDIA CONTACT

Simon Fontana - 0467 738 139

To view the PDF version of this media release you can access it here.

Information packages are available on the NSW government’s e-tender website. Expressions of Interest can be submitted via this web site.

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