The NSW Government has invested heavily in reforms to the child protection system in response to the rising number of children entering out of home care (OOHC) and high re‐reporting rates for children known to child protective services, as highlighted by the ‘Wood Inquiry’ in 2008.
As part of these reforms, Practice First was introduced into 17 Community Services Centres (CSCs) in 2012 and a further seven CSCs in 2013. Practice First is a child protection service delivery model that aims to improve systems, practices and culture relating to the assessment, decision making and support for children and young people identified as at risk of significant harm (ROSH). The model incorporates strategies to strengthen caseworker skills and capability and reduce administrative burden so caseworkers can spend more time on direct client contact, increasing family and partner agencies’ participation in decision making and improving caseworker satisfaction and retention. Developed by the Office of the Senior Practitioner (OSP) within NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), the design of Practice First has a strong emphasis on principles aligned with strengths‐based and solution‐focussed work.
This report describes the evaluation of the implementation and service system outcomes of Practice First across 24 CSCs in NSW. The evaluation used four methodologies, with findings from each triangulated to strengthen conclusions.