Health checks scarce for kids in care
By Cathy O'Leary, Medical Editor - The West Australian.
Only 9 per cent of children in child protection in WA are getting yearly mental health checks, leaked figures show.
Data supplied by the Civil Service Association also reveals only 21 per cent of children had an initial medical examination within 30 days of entering out-of-home care in 2015-16. The union said this was despite many being neglected and at high risk of having ear, eye and chest infections.
Figures show 27 per cent of the 3857 children in care in the past financial year had an annual health check on their physical development.
CSA secretary Toni Walkington said the State Government was failing to meet medical checks for three-quarters of children in the care of the Department for Child Protection.
“It is shocking that less than 9 per cent of children in care get a mental health assessment, even though these are children who have been taken from their families and have often suffered trauma, abuse or neglect,” she said.
“The majority of children coming into care, who are often neglected or abused, are not getting a medical check.”
Department director-general Emma White said children in care often had a range of health needs which could change over time.
The number of children recorded as having received medical assessments and mental health checks could vary because of delays in recording or because those with disabilities had already been seen by a team of people, so did not need the checks.
She said other children might have had recent checks before coming into care, and some young people did not want an annual health check. Forcing them was not necessarily in their interests.