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Communities (DCJ) provides services across 3 key areas:

  1. prevention and early intervention
  2. child protection
  3. out-of-home care

These key services follow the principles and values highlighted in the NSW Practice Framework. It is part of DCJ’ commitment to positive change and to ensure that the child or young person and their family is at the centre of our work.

Prevention and early intervention

The nurturing and care that a child receives from parents in their first 3 years of life impacts whether they become resilient and happy citizens or struggle with life’s challenges.

Some families struggle with parenting, work, relationships, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, domestic and family violence, and problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. These factors can affect children.

To make sure each child gets the best start in life, DCJ funds and provides prevention and early intervention services to address the struggles that families face. These programs include:

Child protection

In NSW, the law says DCJ can get involved with families to protect children and young people from harm and to make sure they are growing properly.

When DCJ gets a report from the Child Protection Helpline that a child or young person may be at risk of harm, staff are responsible for finding out and deciding whether the report is right. DCJ services will get involved when children and young people need care and protection.

Children can be at risk when their families are under stress. About 80% of all child abuse reports on helpline involve parents affected by drugs and alcohol. Reports of domestic and family violence are also rising.

Other stresses that affect families include:

  • mental illness
  • gambling
  • homelessness
  • poverty
  • death and sorry business
  • divorce and separation
  • financial debt and hardship
  • balancing work and family.

The risk of children suffering in their hearts, minds and bodies because of these stresses is very high. Many abused and neglected children can grow up unable to have joyful and productive lives. The potential social and financial cost to society of this is huge and can result in:

  • urgent service needs, such as emergency medical care, police, and foster care placement
  • longer-term service needs, such as juvenile detention, prison, and mental health services

If you think a child or young person is at risk of harm from abuse or neglect, contact the Child Protection Helpline on 13 21 11. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and staffed by qualified caseworkers.

Out of home care

Children and young people experiencing, or at risk of, abuse and neglect may be removed from their family and placed with a foster carer, kinship carer or placed in residential care.

Children can also be removed if their families are unable to care for them because of illness, problematic alcohol and other drug use, domestic and family violence, or poverty.

For a child to be removed from their family, DCJ must have enough evidence to assure a Children's Court that removal was in the best interests of the child.

The care, housing and support services for children and young people who are in out of home care is funded through DCJ and non-government agencies. The priority is to:

  • work with families to return their children
  • make sure out of home care is in a family-like environment
  • keep children and young people connected with their family and community.
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Last updated: 20 Mar 2023