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Improving pathways to health care for children and young people in care

March 26, 2021

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN in partnership with local stakeholders last week launched a new information booklet to improve access to health care for children and young people living in care in the Ipswich area.

The Children and Young People in Care Information Booklet was launched on Thursday, 25 March 2021 and has been was developed as a part of the Strengthening Health Pathways Project.

The project is being delivered through a partnership between the PHN, The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, Kambu Health, Education Queensland, and a number of local family and child non-government service providers and general practices.

Aimed at improving health outcomes for children and young people in care through, the project is focused on creating health care pathways and ensuring as many children and young people in care as possible undertake health assessments and are linked into health services.

Children in care describes the care of children and young people aged < 18 years, who are unable to live with their family (usually due to abuse or neglect) and are placed with carers on a short-term or long-term basis. Children and young people in care, as the preferred term, will be used instead of out-of-home care in future throughout.

The booklet steps through the child or young person’s journey for each stakeholder, including teachers, GPs, Child Safety and carers, providing a checklist of steps each stakeholder might need to know in order to support the young person.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN Board Chair and local Ipswich area GP Dr Tony Bayliss said navigating the complexities of the health care system is often one of the greatest challenges faced when supporting vulnerable people to access the health care they need.

“The booklet has been designed for a multitude of stakeholders to not only highlight the complexity of the system but to also provide a guided path for people walking alongside children and young people in care,” Dr Bayliss said.

“Importantly, it provides a platform for GPs to better understand and recognise the critical role we play in early detection of health needs and interventions for this vulnerable group.”

Regional Executive Director – South West Queensland for The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs Bernadette Harvey said early intervention is key when supporting the health of children and young people in care.

“In the Ipswich area, there are currently around 600 children in care,” Ms Harvey said.

“Often for many of these children, their health care has been neglected before they come into care.

“The Strengthening Health Pathways Project has given us the opportunity to focus on how we can improve the process for providing comprehensive health assessments to address their health care needs and ensured that supports and resources exist to enable stakeholders to support young people to reach better health outcomes.

“Since commencing the project last year, approximately 85 children and young people have participated in the Pathways project and have received comprehensive health assessments.”

The Strengthening Health Pathways Project will be extended in the Toowoomba/Darling Downs region in 2021.