- Auditor General's report into the support given to children leaving care - an opportunity for improvement
- Child Protection Minister says WA Government can do better
Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk acknowledges the Western Australian Government has not done enough to support children leaving out of home care - and that it can do better.
The Auditor General has today released an audit report into the support given by the Department of Communities (Communities) to young people leaving its care to successfully transition into independent living. Communities has accepted all recommendations made in the report.
The report has found that the support provided to young people leaving care makes a positive difference, however, the department's support was not consistent because planning and referrals were late - making access to support difficult.
Improvements to leaving care services are currently being considered by the department, including nine recommendations from the review of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
The recommendations being considered include legislating collaboration between government agencies for children in State care and young people who have left care, and who are eligible for leaving care services.
The State Government's Machinery of Government changes have also provided the opportunity for greater collaboration across government in the areas of housing, disability, child protection and youth justice services, and their links to education and health services.
Comments attributed to Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:
"When a young person in the care of the State turns 18, we cannot turn our back on them – to date we haven't done enough and we can do better.
"This is a national issue and I see the Auditor General's report as a constructive interrogation and an opportunity for improvement. The recommendations are very sensible and are supported by the Department of Communities.
"We have put a lot of focus on preventing children coming into care, through the Out of Home Care Reforms and the Earlier Intervention and Family Support Strategy.
"Now it's time we put more focus on improving accessibility to services for young people leaving care - to better support them to successfully transition into independent living.
"I acknowledge the work of the Homestretch campaign, which promotes the delivery of services to kids leaving care up to the age of 21, rather than 18.
"As an immediate response to this issue, I've asked the department to progress a pilot of dedicated leaving care teams in at least two metropolitan districts and one regional district. These teams will support earlier planning for young people in care and provide the expertise needed to ensure they are linked with accommodation, education or training, and supports."
Minister's office - 6552 6600