The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) welcomes the release of an independent review into the decrease in the number of children at risk of significant harm (ROSH) seen in the 2017/18 year. The review was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
After increases in the number of children at risk of significant harm seen by caseworkers over the previous three years, the number of children seen in 2017/18 dropped by 6 per cent from the previous year to 26,196 children.
PricewaterhouseCoopers found four main reasons for the decrease:
- A high number of new caseworkers were recruited in the 2017/18 year, more than double the amount recruited in 2016/17. New caseworkers are unable to undertake assessments of children at risk of significant harm until they have completed over four months of training and induction. Existing staff also spend time partnering with new staff as part of their training. This boost in staffing will increase capacity to see more children in the longer term.
- There has been a change in the definition of ‘children at ROSH seen by FACS’, with more stringent requirements introduced in 2017/18. There are more steps undertaken by caseworkers to record the work they do to meet the definition of “seen”, in particular that a manager must now give formal approval.
- There was a high number of incomplete case records, particularly in late 2017/18 when staff were adjusting to a new IT system, ChildStory. These incomplete records may include cases where children were seen but not counted under the new system.
- The impact of the introduction of ChildStory meant that caseworkers needed to learn a new operating system, which reduced productivity.
The report makes a number of recommendations which FACS is implementing, including:
- Increasing the accuracy of workforce planning to take account of the induction and training of new caseworkers
- Improving staff understanding of the new process for recording a child as seen
- Investigating incomplete records
- Further managing the impact of the IT system change and improving the timeliness of data recording.