‘Deplorable’: Police forced to babysit troubled kids
COPS are babysitting children in the foyers of police stations because organisations paid on average $500,000 a year to look after each kid won't pick them up.
A damning new report into the state of family support and child protection has highlighted the extra stress being put on officers because of a lack of support from Child Safety.
Police say they "don't know what to do" with the kids.
It comes a month after the Bulletin reported a 12-year-old homeless girl secretly walked out of hospital under the noses of Child Safety.
"In the last 12 months alone, we identified five examples where young adolescents slept overnight in police stations due to a lack of placement options," a Queensland Audit Office report on family support and child protection details.
"Their carers either refused to collect them or allow them to return to care facilities because of their complex behavioural needs."
TROUBLE ON THE STREETS
A Gold Coast police source told the Bulletin: "Due to the lack of support from Child Safety, kids who are being processed after hours with no hope of placement are being babysat by police.
"We can't put them in the watch-house because if something happens we're in trouble. If you turn them out on the streets, and they're bigger kids and charged with bashing someone, they could bash someone again.
"We don't know what to do with them. DOCS has the view once the sun goes to bed, so will we. The support from Child Safety (for police) is deplorable."
Mudgeeraba LNP MP Ros Bates has met with foster carers following Bulletin reports about children as young as 11 on the streets being monitored by Child Safety.
She said the system was broken.
The LNP in government would expand the after-hours child safety protection services to ensure its child safety officers could better respond to child harm reports across the state, she said.
Contracts for out-of-home providers would be renewed to "ensure that children are placed in the most appropriate and stable type of care to meet their needs, rather than based on availability of care".The Palaszczuk Government has welcomed an audit of the Family Support and Child Protection System and said implementation of several recommendations was already under way.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the independent Queensland Audit Office report identified the child protection system was under pressure, but that Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women and other agencies were already working to address matters raised in the report.
"My department has accepted or accepted in principle all of the eight recommendations," Ms Farmer said.
"We're continuing to work to improve and strengthen the child protection and family support system.
The child safety investigation found the Department is waiting almost two weeks on average to refer child harm reports on the Gold Coast, a new child safety investigation has revealed.
The report said Child Safety took an average of 13 days to refer child harm reports to family support services in the south east region.
A Bulletin investigation recently uncovered the shocking case of a homeless 12-year-old who walked out of Gold Coast University Hospital and back on to the streets.
The child had been under the watch of Child Safety officers at the time.
The girl had been removed from her foster home of 10 years. She had been intercepted walking 40km trying to return home.
Other Bulletin investigations into Child Safety found taxpayers were slugged on average $500,000 a year for children in residential care.
The Queensland Audit Office report also found the average time taken for south eastern safety officers to "sight" a child - for reports needing a five-day response - had increased to 37 days in 2018-19.
This was an increase of 76 per cent, up from 21 business days in 2013-14.
Ms Farmer rejected claims the system was broken.
"While the report makes important findings and recommendations to which we must respond, this is the second recent report which reviewed the child protection system, found it is under pressure, made quality recommendations, and did not find the system is broken," she said.
Shadow Child Safety Minister Stephen Bennett has said an LNP Government would create a new "Child Protection Force".
"We will overhaul the system entirely and ensure it runs 24 hours a day, with a dedicated team of police investigators to clear the backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases," he said.
Originally published as 'Deplorable': Police forced to babysit troubled kids