Thursday, 21 August 2008

Boy housed at DOCS office 'last resort'

The New South Wales Department of Community Services (DOCS) has confirmed a violent nine-year-old boy spent four nights sleeping at its Wollongong office because of a lack of suitable accommodation.

DOCS says the boy was placed in its care just over a week ago because his mother could no longer manage his outbursts.

The department initially paid for him to stay in a motel, under the supervision of a caseworker, but he lashed out, damaging property, and the manager demanded he leave.

He was taken to DOCS' Wollongong office last Saturday where he spent four nights.

The executive director of Operational Support for DOCS, Helen Freeland, says the decision was a last resort.

"This is exceptional circumstances and it really was a decision taken only because there were no other placement options available at the time," she said.

"While we think this is very, very undesirable and exceptionally rare, it was the only option available to our caseworkers at the time."

Ms Freeland says the situation has since been resolved.

"The good news is that the boy is now safe with a foster carer, and DOCS is looking at strategies to make sure the situation doesn't happen again," she said.


Taking the scalpel to DOCS
"People assume because a child is in the child protection system he or she is getting help, but usually they don't get anything, and certainly not the intensive family support they need," says Jane Woodruff, chief executive of Burnside, a non-government child welfare agency.

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