Common Sense Prevails Amid a Flurry of Contracting Talks

The announcement by FACS this week that it is suspending its Intensive Therapeutic Care tendering process until further notice is a win for collaboration and common sense, writes ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum:

In what can only be described as an ‘interesting time’, the sector has been ‘knee-deep’ in the tendering/recommissioning of out-of-home care services and looking, in partnership with government, at innovative ways to produce better outcomes for vulnerable children and families in NSW.

ACWA members are very keen to get onto the same page with FACS and other government departments to meet the new legislative imperatives around permanency and stability for children and the increased focus on keeping children, where possible, with their birth family or kin.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to achieve real change in the trajectory and numbers of children in care in NSW. But it will require genuine trust and collaboration to achieve the right outcomes for our shared client group.

The suspending by FACS of its ITC (Intensive Therapeutic Care) procurement process until further notice is a good example. Those who were tasked with putting forward proposals under the new models held genuine and real concerns that what was on offer was not going to meet the ‘best interests of the child’ criteria and potentially expose organisations to significant risks in terms of viability.

There was never any argument over the intent and the integrated case mix provisions, and the outcomes-based focus is something we all want. The fact that FACS has listened to the concerns raised by the sector is to be applauded and we now look forward to achieving what we all want – a service continuum that works with the client at the centre. ACWA looks forward to being engaged in these discussions moving forward.

In the meantime, FACS will advise of a date for the recommencement of the procurement process.

The process for the SIP (Single Invited Proposal) remains underway and we will continue to make sure the integration of the whole continuum of care is not lost in the process. There will be new and increased skills required under the legislative imperatives. This is an area that ACWA will be looking to assist the sector rise to the challenge while keeping an eye on what recommendations arise from the Royal Commission that may require some accommodation from the sector.

I would just like to say thanks to our ACWA members who have given of their time, expertise and resources in what has been a flurry of meetings and consultations over the last six weeks.