On the 11th and 12th of August, I attended a symposium at the Mt Eliza Business School hosted by DHHS on the Roadmap for Reform strategy. The Roadmap has three reform directions, improving access to universal services, providing wrap around support to families and improving outcomes for children in out of home care (OOHC).
While many challenges remain, eg the ratio of aboriginal children in OOHC, there was plenty of good news too. We heard that 194 children had either left or not entered OOHC over the past year because of targeted care packages (TCP). The number of children in residential care had fallen from 7% to just over 5%. Given the high cost and poor outcomes for children in residential care this was a development that all could welcome.
Research was highlighted as an essential component in the new service landscape, with evidence based programs being the way forward. One stark illustration of this was the comment that a reliable, caring adult was the key to healthy child brain development. Thus the preference for home based OOHC options was supported as generating better outcomes for children.
There was much discussion over workforce issues and funding models which will continue to be worked on via working groups that will be formed in the near future. The energy and optimism generated across the two days was impressive, with a consensus that we were on the right track for significant achievements for Victorian children and families.
Congratulations to all involved, as a participant it was time well spent with likeminded colleagues dedicated to making a difference.