The research on early intervention
Berry Street, in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and leading agencies across child and family services, commissioned research by Social Ventures Australia in 2019 which outlined the economic case for investment in early intervention. The report was generously funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation.
And then COVID-19 hit. Social Ventures Australia has since built on the original research, considering the impact of COVID-19 on a system already in crisis.
A shift to early intervention
The child protection system needs a complete overhaul.
Investing $193 million every year over 10 years in the face of severe impacts from COVID-19 will see:
- 1,460 children prevented from entering out-of-home care or residential care every year
- 9,150 children access targeted early intervention programs, supporting them to stay safely with their families
- Victoria save $1.99 billion over 10 years.
We also need to see significant cultural reforms. Given the over‑representation of Aboriginal children in out‑of‑home care, there is an urgent need for investment in effective early interventions that keep Aboriginal families safely together.
Decisions on what early intervention looks like for Aboriginal families and children must be owned and directed by Aboriginal organisations and communities.
Learn more about why early intervention is critical and see how you can help.
COVID-19 increases risk factors for child abuse and neglect
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant social and environmental impacts which are felt by all Victorians, including:
- social isolation and stress
- risk and experience of family violence
- poorer mental health
- loss of employment
- lack of access to social supports.
These are known risk factors of child abuse and neglect. COVID-19 has also reduced the protective factors (such as access to health and social services, employment, and parental resilience) that keep families together and children safe.
Investment needed now
Without government investment, the system will continue to cause harm to Victoria’s children and families.
In the face of COVID-19 impacts and without government investment, we could see:
- demand for child protection rise by 20% for 5 years
- 27,500 more children in out-of-home care by 2026
- the impact of inter-generational disadvantage, institutional racism and over-representation of Aboriginal families intensify.