Alcohol or drug abuse by a parent would not necessarily ‘trigger’ the removal of a child from their biological family, a parliamentary committee investigating Families SA has heard.
Department for Education and Child Development chief executive Tony Harrison told the committee while he would not want any parent abusing alcohol or drugs, it was not realistic.
“Illicit drugs or excessive use of alcohol by itself would not be a determinant whether we would leave a child in a biological family,” he said.
A child abuse prevention service will cease to exist as a stand-alone program, raising fears the support it provides to vulnerable families will be lost or watered down.
The Strengthening Families Program, which the former NSW Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward introduced in early 2012, will be absorbed into mainstream child protection services.
The state opposition and Council of Social Service of NSW have raised concerns about any reduction in the early-intervention service saying it provides vital support to prevent the need for children to be removed from at-risk families.
After dropping for seven straight years, the number of U.S. children in foster care rose slightly last year, according to new federal figures released Monday.
The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services tallied 402,378 children in the foster care system as of Sept. 30, 2013, up from about 397,000 a year earlier, but still down dramatically from a decade earlier. The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002, and the number had dropped steadily since 2005.