Kids and staff in limbo as local agency decides to stop emergency housing

Lachlan Roberts 25 July 2019

Premier Youthworks’ decision to stop providing residential care services next month could leave 32 children limbo. File photo.

Child protection agency Premier Youthworks told its staff on Thursday (25 July) that the company will cease providing residential care services in the ACT as of 14 August 2019.

Premier Youthworks is one of four child protection service providers that form the consortium ACT Together, which provides housing for Canberra’s most vulnerable, traumatised and high needs children and young people in the community.

Director Lisa Glen said escalating service costs and inadequate funding made it unsustainable to continue their service.

Premier Youthworks currently houses 32 vulnerable children in their care and has 125 staff based in the ACT, leaving both kids and staff in limbo.

“There have been many discussions and meetings over the last 12 months, involving the Community Services Directorate, where requests for additional funds have been made to meet the costs of delivering services to the most vulnerable children and young people in the community,” Ms Glen said.

“Unfortunately, these repeated attempts to gain additional funding to offset the costs of delivering services in the ACT have been unsuccessful.

“We have done everything in our power to remain sustainable and still provide high-quality services, but unfortunately it has reached the point where this is no longer possible.”

“Their safety, security and wellbeing is our number one priority” – Rachel Stephen-Smith.

ACT Minister for Children, Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith said the Community Services Directorate is working to ensure the continuity of support for the 32 children and young people who are currently in Premier Youthworks’ residential care.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the safety, care and stability of arrangements for the affected children and young people is the ACT Government’s highest priority.

“The Community Services Directorate is working closely with the ACT Together consortium to ensure the young people in residential care are well supported during this transition,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“Their safety, security and wellbeing is our number one priority.

“Young people in residential care have been informed of the changes and they know they can speak with their case manager if they have any questions.

“Case managers will be working with every young person and their care team to support their individual needs as ACT Together transitions to another organisation joining the consortium.

“Our strong preference is that young people in residential care continue to be supported by staff they already know.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said Premier Youthworks’ decision presents an opportunity to explore new alternatives to deliver targeted, therapeutic and trauma-informed residential care.

“We are very conscious of the impact of this announcement on Premier Youthworks’ staff,” she said.

“I want to reassure them that every effort will be made to retain current staff within the ACT Together consortium, should they wish to make this transition, so they can continue their trusted work with young people.

“I have met a number of these staff and have always been impressed by their professionalism and commitment to supporting some of the most complex and vulnerable children and young people in our community.

“The Community Services Directorate has experience in managing transitions in service provision for vulnerable people and I am confident that this work will be done with the best interests of young people and staff at the forefront.”

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