Minister’s vow on under 12s in residential care | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

The state government will consider reviewing the residential care after new data revealed the significant number of young Queensland children lumped into the controversial system.

It’s been revealed more than 70 serious youth offenders are living in Queensland’s state-run housing on suburban streets. Workers on the ground are calling for an urgent overhaul of the system, claiming the facilities are inadequate to deal with a growing number of troubled children. Staff are also concerned troubled children are being enticed to commit crimes due to their contact with other young offenders. The number of children in residential care in the state has more than doubled since 2017.

Comments from the new minister, Craig Crawford, come after data showed there were 490 children at the end of last year under the age of 12 languishing in homes stakeholders say are cruel and inadequate.

In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail, Mr Crawford conceded younger vulnerable children being lumped in to the housing arrangement – which also includes older juvenile offenders and at-risk youth – was “absolutely not ideal”.

In the 18 months to the end of last year, the number of children under 12 in residential care surged more than 26 per cent.

“Little kids need parenting,” Mr Crawford said.

“We know that and all the experts and stakeholders know that as well.

“Resi care, in its current form, doesn’t provide that.

Mr Crawford wants to see the number of children under the age of 12 in residential care fall to as close to zero as possible.

“What we want to try and do is get more kids into something that resembles a family environment — that’s the ideal solution.”

Mr Crawford said the rest of the near-1700 cohort of children aged above 12 in residential care last year were more typically independent and better suited to the system.

“They’re not necessarily looking for a mother or father figure … so I think youth workers in the resi care houses works for them,” he said.

Mr Crawford told The Courier-Mail he was “toying with the idea” of convening non-government organisations and industry experts to review the controversial housing arrangement.

“We’d look at bringing our stakeholders together and talking about resi care more broadly, but particularly focusing on those under 12,” Mr Crawford said.

“That’s got to be a real critical part of the focus because if we don’t get the little ones on to a good trajectory, they can easily end up disengaged, older teenagers who can get themselves in all sorts of trouble.”

Mr Crawford said the growing rate of children being funnelled into residential care was a product of the “disturbingly high” rates of those requiring care from child protection services.

He said these children were typically victims of domestic violence who were forced to flee traumatic experiences.

“We’ve got more and more kids in out-of-home care, more demand for foster carers, more demand for kinship carers — which is basically the broader family — and when we can’t place them with either of those, the only thing we have left is resi care,” Mr Crawford said.

“We would love to see (the numbers of children in the system) coming down, but the reality is the more kids coming into the child protection system at the front will always mean more at the back end having to be placed.”


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