NSW child protection system: improving practice

Throughout 2013-14 the New South Wales (NSW) Government engaged in a set of major reforms of the child protection system; this process continues under the banner of Safe Home for Life.

The NSW Department of Family and Community Services invited the Parenting Research Centre in 2014 to contribute to the reforms based on our blend of research, practice and sector experience.

Our brief was to inform a new organisational structure to better support specialist child protection staff and clinical staff to deliver their services more effectively to families in the child protection system.

We called on our knowledge of implementation science and our experience across a range of sectors in aligning practices within a service system to produce better outcomes for children.

Our expertise in the following areas informed our recommendations:

  • applying a rigorous approach to evaluating evidence-based implementation processes
  • building effective organisational structures that support workers in the implementation of services and practice
  • building worker skills.

During the consultancy process, we talked to around 80 departmental staff via group conference calls and face-to-face meetings to gather information about clinical and specialist services.

As a result of our recommendations, the department strengthened structures by better aligning reporting arrangements. The department also improved resource management in the practice support area.

These changes helped support more effective practice.