Children exposed to early life maltreatment are at higher risk of later mental disorders; early intervention is crucial for these vulnerable children. This project assisted the NSW Department of Communities and Justice with their review of inter-agency referral services, to promote timely and efficient risk determination, inter-agency reporting processes, and resource allocation at the earliest time in child protection services. The project delineated risk indicators of critical importance for the determination of risk of harm, and out-of-home care placement, among children reported to FACS before the age of 11 years, using multi-agency, linked population-based data from the NSW Child Development Study. We also reported the first Australian population studies of mental disorder diagnoses among children known to child protections services, and the economic costs of childhood mental health hospitalisations associated with child protection involvement.
This project leveraged linked population data from the NSW Child Development Study, a longitudinal study of a state-wide population of children (N=~91,000) and their parents, for whom we have linked records from multiple government departments with information from teacher- and child-reported cross-sectional surveys completed at ages 5 and 11 years respectively. The results directly informed the reform of child protection service referrals to ensure the best possible outcomes for children at risk of harm.
This project received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (Partnership Project 1138683) and is now completed.