SA’s child protective costs top the nation
SOUTH Australia is spending the most of any state on child protection, with costs increasing almost 90 per cent in the past five years to more than $1200 for every SA child aged 0-17.
The funding breakdown is included in a report released yesterday by the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People.
It found more than 80 per cent of all SA’s child protection services expenditure in 2018-19 – $548.5 million – went to foster and residential care services. That compared with under 14 per cent, or
$74 million, for protective intervention and intensive family support services.
Compared with the national average, SA spent 25.1 per cent more on child protection services in 2018-19 and 10 per cent less per child on family support services. That was despite SA increasing its expenditure for these services 168 per cent since 2014-15.
Child-protection advocates and carers have been arguing the State Government needs to spend more on preventive measures to reduce the growing number of children in state care.
There are about 4000 children in care in SA – and more than 34 per cent of them are indigenous.
Guardian for Children and Young People Penny Wright, pictured, said the legacy of many years of underspending in SA meant it was now costly to catch up and reduce the number of children coming into the system
“South Australia historically has a much greater proportion of children living in residential care and emergency care than in other states because of a shortfall in familybased carers, and this is much more expensive than foster care or kinship care,” she said.