FACS representatives Eleri Morgan-Thomas (Executive Director, Partnerships) and Simone Czech (Executive Director, Child & Family) joined ACWA’s August Board meeting to provide an update on the Permanency Support Program (PSP) reforms and to discuss with Board members the impact of changes on non-government agencies and the children and families they work with.
Recurrent issues raised by ACWA’s member agencies in relation to operational challenges were among the key matters discussed, including:
- The need for more clarity around what will be covered by each of the PSP packages. FACS is currently working on developing more clarity for both FACS and NGOS about what is covered in the PSP packages.
- A problem with misinterpretation of the intention of the permanency reforms in relation to the timing of the assessment for permanency pathways was also noted. The intention is that this assessment is systematically carried out when the child enters the system. It was not intended that well developed and settled permanency options should be disrupted to reassess restoration. Permanency options such as guardianship and adoption should be considered as part of the regular case review process. ACWA and FACS will work together to suggest possible ways forward to develop localised approaches for collaboration and best practice standards.
During the meeting, FACS also reported to the Board there is a current foster care placement vacancy rate of about 6 per cent. The system is having particular trouble accommodating children aged between 5-11 years.
In the meantime, ACWA has requested data from FACS to help track the ongoing impact of the new reforms.
Concerns raised by member agencies about privacy settings associated with the new ChildStory system were also raised during the Board discussion. FACS is currently attending to this and encourages agencies to continue logging any issues they have with the system so they can be addressed.
The Board values these ongoing conversations with FACS and the active efforts that are being made to respond to the issues being raised by ACWA members during this period of implementation.
The Board also heard details of the joint ACWA/ARACY/FACSIAR Child and Family NGO Research Roundtable held at ACWA on August 8. Board members were very pleased to learn more about the extensive research work being undertaken by various NGOs, focused on attaining better outcomes for children and young people.
On another note, the Board extends its thanks to member agencies that took the time to complete ACWA’s Annual Member Survey. The Board will be examining this feedback in detail at its next meeting.
And finally, the Board looks forward to seeing everyone at ACWA’s national conference next week!