Review completed into residential care system for children and young people
Published Wednesday, 07 February, 2024 at 06:00 PM
Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Charis Mullen
- Five-month review identified key areas for improvement
- A five-year roadmap has been developed to address these areas
- Includes giving young people and children a greater voice in decisions affecting them; keeping families together and connected; and continuing to refine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led models of care
Establishing a Youth Advisory Board; trialling different models of care; and reviewing alternative placements for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in residential care are some of the recommendations of a five-month review of Queensland’s residential care system.
The government initiated the review in July 2023 in response to concerns about increasing demand.
The resulting Roadmap for Residential Care in Queensland, is a five-year plan that has been designed in partnership with the sector to reshape the residential care sector for the better.
The proposed reforms aim to halve the rate of children and young people in residential care and see more cared for by kinship or foster carers.
Residential care supports children and young people in care who often need a high level of specialist and therapeutic support.
The review, overseen by the Queensland Family and Child Commission, recognised the need to explore and implement new approaches to support children and young people reunify with their family, transition to family-based care or move to independent living.
Other key actions in the roadmap include:
- multi-agency panels to coordinate access to specialist services and supports for young people and children in residential care
- trial new models of residential care and build an evidence base about what works
- investment to support the design and delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait models of care
- development of a residential care workforce strategy to meet the sector’s current and future needs
- partnering with First Nations organisations to trial more early intervention, including kin mapping and family assessments
- improved support, resources and training for foster and kinship carers and testing a new program of specialist family-based care services.
The number of children and young people in residential care increased significantly from 2019 to 2023, with COVID-19 placing additional pressure on families, resulting in a greater number of children and young people coming into care.
In the first nine months of 2023, demand for residential care has moderated.
More than 800 stakeholders were consulted through 41 engagement activities, including 15 regional forums, and a Ministerial Roundtable which sought input from around 70 child safety experts, frontline workers, advocates, community-controlled organisations, and young people with lived experience.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Child Safety Charis Mullen:
“The review was all about determining what works, what doesn’t, and how we can do it better in the future, including meeting community expectations.
“Residential care has an important role to play, particularly for children with complex needs, but at the same time, it’s clear there is room for change.
“Because ultimately, we all want young people and children in residential care to receive the best possible support, care and opportunities they require to improve their life outcomes.
“One of the most critical aspects of the review was the input of young people.
“Their experience and views on residential care were invaluable in determining what works to keep them safe and cared for, and how we can make improvements.”
Quotes attributable to Queensland Family and Child Commission Principal Commissioner Luke Twyford:
“This review brought together young people, policy makers, frontline workers and sector organisations to collaboratively find ways to improve the residential care system.
“The review was intensive and involved multiple site visits across Queensland to hear about the experiences of young people and frontline workers and to see the houses they live in.
“I support the roadmap, which articulates the key issues and actions the department must now take to effect change.
“All Queensland children deserve to live in a safe home and have trusted adults who advocate and care for them, and this roadmap records the actions needed to achieve this.
“I will now explore how other government agencies can better prioritise the needs of young people in residential care, and I will release my final assessment of the roadmap in the coming weeks.
“I will continue to work with government as it implements its plan to improve outcomes for young people in residential care.”
Quotes attributable to PeakCare Chief Executive Officer, Tom Allsop:
“Queensland’s child and family sector is committed to providing the best possible care for every child and family in need of support.
“PeakCare welcomes the Queensland Government’s commitment to reducing its reliance on residential care and increasing the availability of evidence-based therapeutic supports.
“The actions proposed in the Roadmap for Residential Care in Queensland will help create a better system for the thousands of dedicated workers, carers and service providers who are essential in giving back hope to the children, young people and families who need it most.”
Quotes attributable to Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak Chief Executive Officer, Garth Morgan:
“We want to make sure that all First Nations children in the child protection system are living in an arrangement that is in their best interest and is able to meet their needs now and in their futures.
“Children do better when living in a loving and caring home with their families. That’s why we’re backing a shift away from residential care towards therapeutic models of supported family care.
“We know that reimagining models of care for First Nations children will lead to better life outcomes whilst also having the potential to significantly reduce the cost burden to the State that the current residential care model demands.
“An investment in supporting a child to live with family is a smart investment in their future and a fiscally responsible investment for Queenslanders.
“Investing in a changed approach from the current residential care model to one which is family and community focused has the opportunity to break the cycle of disproportionate representation of First Nations kids in the child protection system whilst also reducing the strain on taxpayers that we know the current system demands.
“All children deserve the opportunity to grow up strong in culture and supported to reach their full potential.
“Keeping kids out of residential care and with family will lead to better life outcomes for kids, and lower costs to the Queensland taxpayer.”