Draft National Child Protection Standards Released
7 July 2010 at 4:50 pm
The Federal Government has released draft national standards aimed at improving the health, safety and wellbeing of children living in foster homes and other formal out-of-home care across Australia.
The standards mean State and Federal governments will be working together to improve out-of-home care for children across Australia.
Currently, child protection systems vary markedly across the country with each state and territory having its own child protection policy, standards and legislation.
Out-of-home care standards will provide a national benchmark for the care of children who are no longer with their parents, no matter where they live.
Developed with the states and territories, the 14 draft national standards focus on key areas, including access to health, education and training, increased support for carers and enhancing transition planning for all young people.
Under the draft standards:
- a health assessment will be provided to children and young people entering care, with ongoing medical needs with their own written health record which moves with them if they change placements;
- individual education plans
- carers will be assessed and will receive ongoing training, development and support; and
- young people will have a transition-from-care plan commencing at 15 years old and reviewed at least annually
The National Director of Uniting Care Australia, Susan Helyar says the 34,000 children in out-of-home care in Australia will be better off once the draft national child protection standards are implemented.
Helyar says the draft standards will go a long way to filling policy gaps and ensuring the needs of vulnerable children are met.
She says the Government has clearly listened to the views of agencies working at the coal face and it is pleasing to see so many of the sector’s recommendations reflected in the draft.
UnitingCare Australia has repeated its call for an independent National Children’s Commissioner to ensure the standards are applied appropriately in the interests of vulnerable children in out of home care.
Over the next month, state and territory governments and non-government organisations are expected to conduct further consultations to ensure that the draft national standards focus on the key issues for children and young people in care.
The Federal Government also announced $70,000 for the CREATE Foundation to support children in out-of-home care, particularly for improving support for young people leaving care.
CREATE will use $40,000 for their What’s the Plan? campaign. This program empowers and mobilises young people transitioning from out-of-home care and their carers to work with child protection case workers to develop and implement leaving care plans.
The CREATE Report Card indicates that 65 per cent of young people in out-of-home care who were surveyed in 2008 did not have a leaving care plan and were uncertain about plans for their future.
CREATE will invest $30,000 in bringing together their National Youth Advisory Council to provide advice to the federal, state and territory governments on practical solutions to assist young people transitioning from out-of-home care to gain full independence.
The final national standards and how they will be measured and monitored will be considered by Community Services Ministers in late 2010.
Implementation of the national standards will commence from July 2011 and states and territories will report on progress under the standards.
The national standards for out-of-home care working paper is available at www.fahcsia.gov.au