New Funding To Support Permanency Changes

26 February 2016

The Andrews Labor Government will provide an additional $2 million to help vulnerable families whose children are at risk of being placed in out-of-home care.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said more individualised Family Preservation Packages would be funded to give at-risk families the support and programs they need to address concerns about the exposure of children to the risk of abuse or neglect.

The packages will also support the reunification of children with their parents and for families to stay together. The support could include counseling and practical in-home help for parents.

Last year Labor acted to reinstate the power of the Children’s Court to refuse to make a protection order if it was not satisfied that the Department of Health and Human Services had provided the necessary services to families.

At the time, Ms Mikakos promised a review of the changes the previous government made to the Children, Youth and Families Act.

Ms Mikakos will refer the legal changes to the newly appointed Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, for an independent review that will commence six months after the new laws take effect.

Permanent carers are also receiving additional support, with $1 million of recurrent funding provided to assist them to meet the needs of children currently living in permanent care arrangements.

Extra funding packages mean Victorian children and families have better access to tailored and flexible support.

The new packages coincide with legal changes starting from 1 March to address delays in decision-making for children who cannot live with their families due to abuse and neglect, and will be delivered in consultation with the community services sector.

The changes will require that all efforts are made to keep children in their parents’ care and to reunify children with their families within specified timelines before permanent care is the focus.

They follow recommendations from the 2012 Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry which found the average time to achieve a permanent care order for children unable to return home was 5 years, and that this was harmful to the child.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“This funding will help give families the tools and support they need to stay together.”

“We reinstated the power of the Children’s Court to properly scrutinise the Department and safeguard the interests of children last year – just as we said we would.”

“We need to strike a balance, in giving families help to stay together, but ensuring children are in the best care possible and not left in a state of enduring uncertainty.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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