The economic case for early intervention in the child protection and out-of-home care system in Victoria

Child protection Indigenous child protection Foster care Out-of-home care early intervention services Parenting programs Victoria

Berry Street, in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and leading agencies across the child and family services sector, commissioned this independent report by Social Ventures Australia.

The report makes the economic case for additional, long-term investment in targeted early intervention and intensive family preservation to prevent children entering out-of-home care in Victoria.

The approach used a cost‑benefit analysis to show the savings that can be achieved, and the number of children who could be prevented from entering out-of-home care, by investing in a small number of evidence-based early intervention programs at key points in Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care system.

Five programs have been used as examples of the potential impact that additional investment in early intervention could have on Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care system: SafeCare®, Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), Multi-Systemic Therapy – Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN), and Treatment Foster Care Oregon – Adolescents (TFCO-A).

These programs are all currently being delivered in some form in Australia and have been shown to be effective in supporting vulnerable children and families at different key points in the system, including by preventing children from entering out-of-home care and/or building the capacity of parents and families.

The report outlines the cost‑benefit of new investment in these programs over a 10-year period and calculates the costs saved based on the reduced likelihood of children who are supported by the programs entering out-of-home care.

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