Victoria's residential care system has insufficient capacity and capability to respond to the level of demand and growing complexity of children’s needs, this audit finds.
On any given day around 500 children are in residential care in Victoria. These children are among the most vulnerable in the community. They are generally in the Out of Home Care system because they are at risk of harm, abuse or neglect from their families. The children are placed under the protection of the Secretary of the Department of Human Services. Residential care, which involves placing a small number of children or young people in a home in the care of paid staff, is often considered a placement option of last resort.
The audit found that the residential care system has insufficient capacity and capability to respond to the level of demand and growing complexity of children’s needs. This affects the quality of care provided and reduces opportunities for children to achieve positive outcomes while in care. Current staffing models do not provide sufficient quality and stability of care for children. This has implications for the children’s health, education and other outcomes. Children have better outcomes in the therapeutic residential care model, which has planned placements and staff access to a therapeutic specialist, than in the standard model of care.