SA’s child pro­tec­tive costs top the na­tion

The Advertiser - - NEWS - RE­BECCA DIGIROLAMO

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.

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