ACWA Workshop Searches for Emergency Out-of-Home Care Placement Solutions

ACWA recently held a workshop focused on emergency placements in out-of-home care (OOHC).

Emergency placements have long been an area for joint sector problem solving and innovation. ACWA last focused on this area of the OOHC service system in 2014 in response to the FACS Options Paper on Immediate and Short Term Placements.

ACWA’s October workshop was designed to facilitate robust discussion and arrive at potential solutions to address carer capacity for emergency placements. Around 30 senior managers from both FACS and NGOs attended either in person or via videoconference. During the workshop, participants heard presentations from FACS on current data on new entries to care. The room also heard from Barnardos Australia CEO Deirdre Cheers (main picture), who discussed program fidelity, while Fostering NSW shared insights into carer recruitment and retention for emergency care.

In preparing the agenda for the workshop, ACWA wanted to gain background information from member agencies to better understand what is working well and what needs changing. We invited responses and contacted a number of agencies to learn more about their experience of emergency placements and the work that has been done to date, including the immediate placements pilot in the metro area.

Some of the issues raised by agencies before and during the workshop included:

  • Finding and supporting carers with the level of resilience needed to care for children and young people at short notice, and with high needs and often challenging behaviours.
  • The need for increased information sharing between FACS and NGOs to support placement.
  • The particular challenges faced by regional areas in terms of recruiting carers who have experience working with or caring for children and young people, and their ‘on call’ availability.

A number of potential solutions or considerations were also proposed. Some of these were short term solutions, such as greater collaboration between local Child and Family District Units (CFDU) and NGOs ahead of possible referrals and carer authorisation, while other ideas would require a longer term, systemic approach, such as developing a system-wide approach to carer training.

ACWA has prepared a report summarising this work to date, which will be presented at our upcoming OOHC Reforms Forum on Wednesday, December 6, from 2pm – 4pm. For more information contact ACWA’s Policy and Membership team on 02 9281 8822.