Child safety staff are working more intensively than ever with families with a further five percentage point increase in the proportion of children coming into care with a parent with current or previous methamphetamine use recorded over the last year.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the child protection system was working with families who were presenting with multiple risks and needs, increasing the demand for child protection services.
“The Palaszczcuk Government has made an unprecedented investment in Child Safety since 2015, with $738 million allocated since 2015, and an additional almost 600 new staff,” she said.
“Despite this record investment our system faces increasing pressure.
“Demand is increasing – we receive a call every 4 minutes about a child suspected of being at risk of harm, and there is increasing complexity in the family situations we are dealing with.
“Ice is now a major factor in 39% of cases where a child must be taken into care – an increase of more than 30% in just two years.”
Ms Farmer said despite this increase the latest yearly data showed the number of investigations commenced by Child Safety in the last year was up by almost 7 per cent and child safety officer caseloads continued to be under 18 cases per full-time officer for the eighth quarter in a row, down from a high of 21 in 2012.
“The number of investigations commenced increased by 1511 when compared to the same time period last year,” she said.
“This included 3933 notifications with a 24 hour priority, which is up three percent from this time last year, which is fantastic to see.
“We are continuing to prioritise the most urgent cases and for investigations with a 24 hour priority, 93 per cent commenced within that timeframe – 112 more cases compared to this time last year.
“As part of our 10 year program of Child Safety reforms, we are now doing much more to intervene early so that children can stay safely with their families.
“Child Safety Officers are now also working more intensively during investigations to de-escalate risks to children and help families to keep their children safe, and these reforms are working.
“There are now fewer children in need of protection by Child Safety at the end of investigations.
“This focus on early intervention means we can nip small problems in the bud before they become big problems that can put children at significant risk of harm.”
The proportion of children in care who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander has remained stable for the seventh consecutive quarter, at around 42 per cent.
Ms Farmer praised Queenslanders who had taken up the call to care for children in need.
“Over the last year 1459 families stepped up to become carers for the first time,” she said.
“That’s an increase of 15 per cent compared to the last year, which means we now have 5415 carer families providing safe and caring homes for Queensland children as at 30 September 2019,” she said.
For more information on how to become a foster carer, call the Foster Care Recruitment Line on 1300 550 877 or contact one of Queensland’s many foster care support agencies direct.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer