A range of risk factors for child abuse and neglect have been identified in Australian and international research. A profile of the families and households involved in the Queensland child protection system has been developed to provide a better understanding of the families Child Safety works with.
These family risk factors include domestic and family violence, substance misuse, intergenerational experience of abuse or neglect, mental illness, and criminal history.
Prevalence of family risk factors in substantiated households, Queensland, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Proportion of the number of risk factors in substantiated households, Queensland, 2015-16
|FP.1: Prevalence of family risk factors in substantiated households, Queensland||Excel||n.a.|
|FP.2: Number of family risk factors in substantiated households, Queensland||Excel||n.a.|
Risk assessment is a fundamental component of the Child Safety investigation and assessment phase, and considers information about the child, their family, and the physical and social environment.
The purpose of the family risk evaluation is to provide an objective evaluation about the probability of further incidents of abuse or neglect by a parent in the family, which may result in harm to a child in the next 12 to 24 months, and help guide decision-making about the need for intervention with the family to reduce the likelihood of future harm.
The family risk evaluation is completed after all investigation and assessment information has been gathered, and prior to the determination of the investigation and assessment outcome. One family risk evaluation is completed per family.
Most questions relate to the parent who has primary responsibility for the care of the child, such as the parent who assumes most of the child care responsibility in the household, or the legal guardian of the child.
Family support services have been established across Queensland to provide vulnerable families and children with access to high-quality services at the right time to help them to maintain the family unit.
In response to the findings of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, the Queensland Government is expanding the statewide network of family support services to ensure there is greater mix of services tailored to support vulnerable children and families before their problems escalate to intervention by Child Safety.
Understanding the characteristics of families and households involved in the Queensland child protection system informs the development of policy and programs, from prevention and early intervention through to permanency planning.
Child Safety is increasingly working with more complex families. Over the five years to 2015-16, there has been an increase in the prevalence of risk factors within households where a child experienced significant harm and/or was at risk of significant harm.
Three out of every four households (73 per cent) had more than one of these risk factors, compared to 61 per cent in 2011-12.
A once-off study based on a representative sample was conducted by the department regarding the prevalence of methamphetamine use amongst parents whose children came into care (either intervention with parental agreement or child protection order).
What did the study find?
Characteristics of parents involved in the Queensland child protection system is a series of reports building a picture of the families we work with.
Report 1: Demographic profile details the types of households, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander as well as young parent households, the types of harm that occur and households where a child was assessed as being in need of protection.
Report 2: Parental risk factors for abuse and neglect focuses on parental risk factors such as domestic violence, alcohol or drug problems and mental illness.
Report 3: History of contact with the Department examines the characteristics of households that have previously been involved in ongoing departmental intervention.
Report 4: Households with high needs children focuses on five child characteristics including: significant developmental or physical disability, medically fragile/failure to thrive, positive toxicology screen at birth, offending history and mental health/behavioural problem.
Report 5: Households by level of socio-economic disadvantage uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage , to analyse the characteristics and environment of households in the child protection system by level of socio-economic disadvantage.
Report 6: Summary of key findings provides an overview of the key findings from the previous five reports and cross-analysis of the multiple risk factors facing children and families in the child protection system.