Image: David Janetzki MP and Act for Kids region manager Heidi Fowler discuss the importance of helping struggling families to prevent their children from being placed in the child safety system.
There has been an alarming spike in the number of reports of children being abused and neglected in the Toowoomba region.
Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP said quarterly figures released by the Department of Child Safety showed there were 3,539 notifications of children being harmed, at risk of harm or being neglected in the south west region. This is a 22% increase on the previous year.
Mr Janetzki said the recent heart-breaking cases of child abuse have raised serious questions about the child protection system.
“Too many kids are falling through the cracks of a child protection system which is clearly under severe strain,” he said.
“Now more than ever, organisations like Act for Kids in Toowoomba are so important in their role of preventing and treating child abuse and neglect.”
Act for Kids southern region area manager Heidi Fowler said they worked with about 100 families in the Toowoomba region at any one time.
The not-for-profit organisation offers early intervention services which prevents children from being harmed by supporting and up-skilling families to enable them to care for their children.
Ms Fowler said their staff worked intensively with families who had come to the attention of Child Safety but not currently in the system.
“Families can have multiple and complex needs - a family could have a parent who might be using drugs, or has mental health issues, or a lot of referrals are for families who are currently experiencing, or have experienced, domestic violence,” she said.
“We visit families weekly in their homes and talk to all people involved in that family’s life such as their school, doctor, hospital, grandparents, neighbours – people who are important to their support.”
Mr Fowler said staff work with families on nutrition, budgeting, child development, household hygiene, the importance of school attendance, routines and parenting.
“We typically work with a family for between six and twelve months and we strive to keep children as the centre of everybody’s focus in every conversation we have.”
Ms Fowler said there was currently a 12-week waiting list for families to secure Act for Kids’ services.
“The hardest part of the job is knowing there are more struggling families that are in need of our service but we just don’t have the time or resources behind us to do that,” Ms Fowler said.
“That can really weigh on you,” she said.
Notifications by type of harm in Queensland
Year ending 30 September 2018
Type of harm
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