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Evaluating the child protection reforms

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Evaluating the child protection reforms

The Queensland Government is transforming the state's child protection system to help families care for their children.

These improvements are being made through the Supporting Families Changing Futures Reform Program.

We are responsible for leading evaluations of the reform program at the program-level, that is, evaluating the whole program rather than its individual components. To date, two of these evaluations have been conducted. The first focused on implementation of the reforms over the first three years of the program. The second examined outcomes achieved to date.

Outcomes Evaluation (2014–2020)

Our second evaluation focused on outcomes achieved through the reform environment to date.

There is no question that a lot of activity has occurred in the course of implementing the reforms. The question is whether the best type of activity has occurred, and whether it has occurred in the best way for children, young people and their families. At present, outcomes data is limited or not available, so we cannot determine this. The data that is available, including the perspectives of stakeholders, indicates there has been limited (if any) improvement in the areas that need it the most.

Something needs to change. We are not suggesting another inquiry—what is needed is a shared child and family policy agenda that endures and provides certainty for the child protection and family support system and sector, and for the children, young people and their families who rely upon it.

The policy agenda must be developed with the direct and active involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, frontline workers, and children, young people and their families. The child protection and family support system needs to measure what matters, share these measures, and evaluate individual programs and services at appropriate times to drive continuous improvement.

Our evaluation reports can be found below. Our overall evaluation findings are described in the Measuring what matters report. There are also three reports describing the results of ‘deep dive’ studies into areas of significant reform investment in more detail. These reports should be read in conjunction with Measuring what matters:

  • Deep dive #1—Investing in family support services: Has it reduced demand on the child protection system and improved outcomes?
  • Deep dive #2—Respecting the workforce: How did the Queensland Child Protection Reform Environment impact the frontline Child Safety workforce?
  • Deep dive #3—Learning from evaluations: What have we learned and how has the child protection system responded?

Implementation Evaluation (2014–2017)

Our first evaluation focussed on how the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry reforms were implemented across the first three years. Some of our key findings included:

  • The reform program introduced considerable changes to the child and family support system, and early evidence suggests that new policies, practices and services are functioning as intended. We need to stay on course and continue working together to embed the changes and allow time for the benefits to be realised.
  • The continuing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families in the child protection system is an ongoing concern that requires additional attention.

Our future program-level evaluations will focus on how the outcomes of the reform program are being achieved.

To learn more about the implementation of the reform program, the full report and a short summary report can be found below.

System Evaluation

As part of our system evaluation work, we conduct place-based studies in locations across Queensland to hear from local partners about how the system is working in these locations, and to gather evidence of what's working for children, young people and families, and why.

You can view the summaries of the key findings for each study below.

Community and Workforce Surveys

We also conduct regular surveys to understand what the community thinks about the child protection and family support system, and to gather the perspectives of the frontline child protection and family support workforce about practice and capability issues. 

You can view the survey reports and summaries below.