A leading Aussie academic and paediatrician has questioned whether the government should introduce policies that encourage the country's most disadvantaged families to have fewer kids, as a way to cut pressure on the ever expanding foster care system.
In a perspective piece for the Medical Journal of Australia, the dean of medicine at Bond University Peter Jones says we need to work to stem the rising numbers of young children being removed from parents and placed in out-of-home care, as it can do more harm than good.
"Children in care experience significantly poorer mental health outcomes than children who have never been in care, with one study recording up to 60% having a current mental health diagnosis," he said.
"A major concern is that there is evidence that children in OOHC in Australia may experience an increased risk of harm while in care. A review of child deaths in NSW found there were 41 reviewable deaths due to suspected child abuse and neglect in 2012-13, 14 of these deaths involved children who were in OOHC.
Jones says the fact that the system is being overwhelmed with children should be seen as an indicator that society needs to do better.
"The resources to support our most vulnerable children should be directed more towards strengthening the family into which they are born as the first option."
"We need to ask politically motivated questions, such as should we be developing policies that encourage disadvantaged families to have fewer children?"
We need to aggressively invest in young vulnerable mothers when they have their first child in disadvantaged circumstances and not wait until there have been documented problems and the social service systems."
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