- McGowan Government program helping at-risk mothers-to-be delivers important results
- Dramatic reduction in babies born to mothers involved in the program taken into care from birth
- The State Government funding $4.186 million over the next four years to help keep more mothers and babies together
An innovative McGowan Government program where at-risk mothers-to-be work with child protection and child health professionals in the months leading up to birth is building better futures for vulnerable children and families.
The Pre-Birth Planning Program addresses the safety, wellbeing and health concerns of at-risk families before birth and, where possible, prevents newborns from entering care.
The program, operating at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) and Fiona Stanley Hospital, is the only initiative in Australia where child protection and child health professionals work side-by-side on pre-birth planning.
It has had significant success, with a 52 per cent decrease in the number of newborn infants entering care from KEMH and a 54 per cent decrease in the number of Aboriginal newborn infants entering care from KEMH.
In 2018-19, 103 newborns entered care at birth from KEMH.
That figure fell to 70 in 2019-20, the first full year of the program, and to 51 in 2020-21.
Under the program, family meetings are led by skilled and independent facilitators to develop family-owned safety plans supporting children to remain at home with their family after birth.
The plan may include linking in with other earlier intervention and family support services.
The State Government is funding $4.186 million over the next four years to enable more families to be included in the program, which is in addition to record investment in other early intervention initiatives to support vulnerable families.
Comments attributed to Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:
"We know that children thrive at home with their own family in loving, caring, environments. That is always the preferred option - and while safety must come first, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure families are given the support they need to stay together.
"This is the only program of its kind in Australia where child protection and child health professionals are working side-by-side to help guide and support families in the crucial months before their baby's birth - and the results speak for themselves.
"The number of newborns entering care from King Edward Memorial Hospital has more than halved in two years. A program like this is one of the reasons we're seeing a gradual decline in the rate at which children are coming into care.
"In the last reporting year there was a 2.8 per cent decrease in the total number of children in care, which included a 0.8 per cent decrease in the number of Aboriginal children in care.
"This is the first reduction in the number of children in care since 1997, and significantly, the first reduction of Aboriginal children in care since 1996.
"There is always more work to be done, but the State Government is committed to delivering better outcomes for vulnerable children and their families."
Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"This program is having great success as child protection and healthcare workers come together to support families in the months before their baby's birth.
"Innovative programs like these are delivering better outcomes for new mothers and babies.
"Thanks to the healthcare workers at King Edward Memorial Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital for the important work they are doing in this program."
Child Protection Minister's office - 6552 6600
Health Minister's office - 6552 5900