Academic paper: Accounting for the increase of children in care in Western Australia: What can a client information system tell us?
This paper analyses a fourteen-year period of Western Australian data from the client information system of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support. Western Australia saw a large increase in the number of children in state care similar to trends across Australia as a whole. The study shows the following trends: changes in response to ‘referrals’ with particular increases in the number of findings of neglect and increasing proportions of these followed swiftly by entry to care; changes in patterns of entry to care with more children under one-year-old entering; increased length of stay of children in care; and, the high incidence of Aboriginal children entering and remaining in care. The data demonstrate unequivocally that increased ‘referrals’ are not associated with increased substantiations of harm or ‘acts of commission with dangerous intent’, but that neglect assessed early in the lives of children was the major precipitant for entry to care and particularly so for Aboriginal infants.