09/03/2021 | Michelle Lensink MLC | Rachel Sanderson MP | Better Services

Almost 90 children in Adelaide’s north have avoided entering the child protection system thanks to a $3 million Marshall Liberal Government intensive family support pilot program.

Since the program launched in August 2019, Safe Kids, Families Together has completed working with 38 families, including 111 children who were at risk of being removed.

Of those, more than 80 per cent (89 children and young people) have been kept out of the state care system and remain at home safely with their parents or kin, avoiding the need for costly and less desirable out-of-home care.

The program, being delivered by AnglicareSA, works intensively with at-risk families, giving parents extra, specialist help to overcome complex issues including domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

Specialist support workers work with the families over a period of months, up to 15 hours per week, to address each family’s unique challenges.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the program continued to show signs of success in keeping children out of the child protection system through better supporting our most vulnerable families.

“Supporting our most vulnerable families earlier is a Marshall Liberal Government priority,” said Minister Lensink.

“We are committed to reducing child abuse and neglect in South Australia through intervening early, with the right services at the right time, to keep children at home whenever it is safe to do so.

“The 89 children and young people who remain living safely with their parents or kin thanks to this program are 89 children and young people who otherwise would have likely ended up in out-of-home care, which is both expensive and much less desirable.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is investing more than $50 million in our Child and Family Support System, which aims to reduce child abuse and neglect by providing targeted support to families and their children – and the Safe Kids, Families Together program is one of several new pilot programs we have invested in.”

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said there were three main risk factors why families enter the child protection system – and programs like Safe Kids, Families Together was helping many vulnerable parents overcome complex issues.

“We know that many South Australian families are facing multiple and complex challenges such as domestic and family violence drug and alcohol abuse and mental health concerns, and this requires an early, coordinated and cross-government effort,” said Minister Sanderson.

“We’ve always said stemming the flow of children and young people coming into the child protection system would take time given the issues our vulnerable families are facing are complex and far reaching – however, this pilot program is showing early signs of success.”

AnglicareSA Executive General Manager Community Services Nancy Penna said that AnglicareSA is committed to continue working in partnership with State Government and the social services sector to reverse the current trajectory of children being removed and placed in the state care system.

“We’re pleased to be given the opportunity to provide families in extreme crisis with immediate, intensive and focused support to ensure the safety of their children and ongoing sustainability of a flourishing home environment,” said Ms Penna.

“Families simply want the best for their children and what we do know is if they can remain safely with their birth family, then that’s by far the best place for them.

“It’s vital that government continues to invest in strengthening the continuum of support for families at risk of losing their children in order to drive long-term change. “We would like to see this program continue to have a real impact on families and children into the future.”

Following its two-year trial, the pilot program will be independently evaluated by the Parenting Research Centre.

Other new Marshall Liberal Government programs targeting our most vulnerable families include the $11.3 million Resilient Families program, $18.2 million Newpin program, $900,000 Breathing Space pilot, $1.6 million Family Group Conferencing pilot and the $2.2 million KWY pilot in the West.