Latest child protection statistics reveal no improvement for at-risk children

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New child protection statistics reveal that still only 1 in 4 children and young people at risk of significant harm are being seen by a caseworker – a rate that has not improved since the Liberals’ first caseworker dashboard implemented to help fill caseworker vacancies.

The latest quarterly Caseworker Dashboard shows that 5 per cent of caseworker positions remain unfilled, and only 27 per cent of children at risk of harm have a face-to-face assessment – despite an additional $26 million for new caseworkers in last year’s NSW budget.

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Tania Mihailuk said the damning statistics showcase the Liberal Government’s failure to properly resource and manage child protection services, particularly the transfer of out-of-home care to non-government organisations.

“The most recent caseworker dashboard merely highlights the Liberal Government’s failure to prioritise keeping at-risk children safe from harm,” Ms Mihailuk said.

“These figures prove the child protection system in NSW is under the pump and reaching crisis point.

“Since the first caseworker dashboard almost two years ago, the proportion of at-risk children seen by a caseworker has remained stagnant at 27 per cent – in fact, it is actually lower than the 28 per cent seen in June 2013.

“In the last budget, the Liberals committed $26 million to recruit caseworkers – yet the number of kids being seen is not improving. Where has this money gone if only 1 in 4 children are being seen?

“The statistics from the Nepean and Blue Mountains area are particularly alarming, as only 1 in 6 children at risk of significant harm are receiving assessments from caseworkers.

“The Minister must explain why the number of vacant caseworker positions in the Nepean and Blue Mountains has increased from 1 to 10 in just three months, while 5 in 6 children in need are desperately waiting for help.

“The situation in South Western Sydney is equally concerning, with the number of at risk children and young people receiving a face to face assessment at just 19 per cent.”

The Department of Family and Community Services Caseworker Dashboard publishes quarterly data about Community Services caseworker numbers, caseworker funding, vacancies and the percentage of children and young people at risk of significant harm that receive a face-to-face caseworker visit.

The Community Services Caseworker Dashboard – March 2015 quarter is available at: http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docs_menu/about_us/community_services_caseworker_dashboard.html