29 Aug 2017
While we cannot comment on matters subject to the Coronial Inquest into the death of Braxton Slager, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has made a great many positive changes in the past few years.
In 2016-17 the department took around 25% fewer children into care than the year before. This was the lowest number of children taken into care in at least six years.
FACS is investing $90 million over four years to implement two new family preservation and restoration models to further reduce children entering, and increase exits from, out-of-home care.
These new home-based support services are delivered by healthcare professionals in priority locations across NSW. Up to 900 vulnerable children and their families per year will receive the services, with half of the places dedicated to Aboriginal children and their families.
Each year the department’s caseworkers are seeing more children. In 2012/13 FACS caseworkers saw 17,981 children, in the past year this number rose to 27,342 (preliminary).
In the Nepean Blue Mountains district subject to the Coronial Inquest, the number of children who received a face-to-face assessment by a caseworker has more than doubled in the past three years.
The 2017-18 budget has funded more FACS caseworkers – an extra 75 this year, rising to 127 next year – as well as 66 extra casework support workers.
FACS will continue to work hard to increase both the number of children who receive a face-to-face assessment, as well as the number of children who are referred directly to therapeutic and support services in the community.
Both these efforts combined will reduce the number of children whose cases are closed, with no follow up, due to competing priorities. This improvement is supported by FACS maintaining a low caseworker vacancy rate, increasing the service system capacity through funding more resources and working to wherever possible reduce administrative burden on staff.