This article reviews developments in the NSW child protection system which aim to reduce the number of children in state care. The first development was changes to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1988 made in 2016 that created a permanency hierarchy for children who have been removed and not restored to parental or extended family care. Under Section 10A of the Act, guardianship and adoption becomes the priority if restoration is not possible, although Aboriginal children are exempt from adoption to some extent. The more recent development, during 2017, is the purchase by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) of a license for two US models, namely Multi-Systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN®) and Functional Family Therapy through Child Welfare (FFT-CW®). US studies have shown that these models reduce the number of children being taken into care. Related to this effort is the recognition by FaCS that the cost of out-of-home care (OOHC) is increasingly unmanageable given the 16,843 children in care in NSW. Added to this is the knowledge, confirmed by the Minister, that for many children in OOHC the outcomes are dismal. Finally, the article turns to the issue of poverty and seeks to address the established correlation (not causality) between poverty and child abuse and neglect. This remains the key issue that underscores child abuse and neglect that has to be addressed if a significant reduction in the number of children taken into state care is to be achieved.
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