Out-of-Home Care is the range of services provided for children at risk of harm, who need to be removed from their homes and placed in a safe environment, such as with foster carers. In the past, Out-of-Home Care has been run by Community Services.
Since 2012, the NSW Government has been transferring funding for Out-of-Home Care services to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Transferring sorely needed government funds for child protection to the private sector has placed real pressure on the child protection system at a time when more children than ever in NSW are in Out-of-Home Care.
Private providers simply do not have the capacity or experience to cope, especially in providing the necessary expertise for children with complex needs.
They have been unable to provide all Out-of-Home Care placements that are needed and children are being looked after by caseworkers in motels and caravan parks – sometimes even in Community Services Centres. Often they are returned to the homes they were removed from because a safer alternative can’t be found.
Community Services caseworkers are doing their best, but the non-government sector isn’t equipped for the increasing demand for services. Billions of tax payer dollars have been transferred to the non-government sector, but there are insufficient processes to keep track of how the money is spent or assess the quality of service provided.
The people of NSW expect the Government to care for children who cannot safely remain in their own homes. Sadly, the privatisation of child protection is failing vulnerable children the Government should be protecting from harm.