Tasmanian child and family centres under the microscope

A parliamentary inquiry has recommended the government invest more into the state’s child and family centre network, finding there are not enough centres to meet demand.

A Legislative Council committee for the past year has assessed the role of the centres in providing early learning for children and support for parents and carers, as well as the locations of centres and level of government funding.

The committee recommended new centres needed to be built with locations determined by social demographic, transport availability, and operation hours. 

Placement of centres now is determined by a location having percentage of children under four years old higher that the state average, more young or single-parent families, and a high measure of social inclusion factors.

The committee recommended existing buildings could be re-purposed into child and family centres and an expansion of outreach services from existing centres.

The inquiry heard that some Tasmanian families were prevented from accessing the centres due to there not being an outreach service, a mode of transport, or they were put off by past experiences with government-run services.

The committee recommended that there should be co-ordinated linking of services between the centres and the relevant government departments.  

Former Children’s Commission Mark Morrissey had told the inquiry there was no linking of services between different departments, particularly on family violence and education issues as well as antenatal services.

The government provided $5 million to the state’s 12 child and family centres over 2016-17, employed 36 full-time equivalent employees.

But the inquiry found that while centre infrastructure was well-funded, some centres reported being short of money to hire the required level of qualified staff. 

The Ravenswood Child and Family Centre said a large number of visiting families required help from trauma specialists but the centre did not have the money to employ one.

The George Town Child and Family Centre said it didn’t have the resources to provide staff training.

This story Committee recommends Tas government invest more in child centres first appeared on The Advocate.