The number of children receiving child protection services continues to rise, with almost three-quarters of these children repeat clients, according to new analysis from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Child protection Australia 2015–16, shows that over 162,000 children (aged under 18)—or 1 in 33 children-received child protection services in 2015–16.
‘The number of children receiving child protection services has grown by around 10,000 per year for the preceding two years-from about 152,000 in 2014–15 and 143,000 in 2013–14,’ said AIHW spokesperson David Braddock.
Children who received child protection services were those who were the subject of an investigation; on a care and protection order; and/or in out-of-home care.
A notification is considered “substantiated” when, after an investigation, it is concluded that there is sufficient reason to believe the child has been, is being, or is likely to be abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed.
Rates for children in substantiations continued to rise between 2011–12 and 2015–16 – from 7.4 to 8.5 per 1,000 children.
‘Children may receive a combination of child protection services,’ Mr Braddock said. Our report shows that while a majority (60%) were the subject of an investigation only, almost one-quarter (24%) were on both an order and in out-of-home care, and 9% were involved in all 3 components of the system.’
Most children in out-of-home care were placed with relatives or kin (49%) or in foster care (39%). For the first time, the report presents data on the relationships between children placed with relatives or kin and their carer. Available data (from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT), shows around half (48%) of children in relative/kinship placements were placed with grandparents, while 22% were placed with an aunt and/or uncle.
Of households authorised to provide out-of-home care, 52% of foster carer households and 40% of relative/kinship carer households had more than 1 child placed with them.
The report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 7 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to have received child protection services (157.6 per 1,000 children compared with 22.0 for non-Indigenous children).
Children from Very remote areas were 4 times as likely as those from Major cities to be the subject of a substantiation (23.5 per 1,000 children compared with 6.2 for children in Major cities).