Family planning may reduce rising number of children in out-of-home care

London [USA], May 22 : A data by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that the rate at which non-Indigenous children have been placed in short or long-term care has more than doubled over the past 18 years, and more than tripled for Indigenous children.

Hence, policies to discourage disadvantaged families from having too many children may help in addressing the rapidly rising number of children in out-of-home care in Australia, says a study.

Prof Peter Jones, the dean of medicine at Bond University on the Gold Coast, said that the "absolutely astronomical increase" was symptomatic of the need for a "politically charged" discussion of the issue.

In a perspective study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Jones wrote that a range of interventions needed to be trialed and implemented to reduce out-of-home care numbers, which he saw as indicative of a failing of society, rather than "an expected consequence." "We need to ask politically charged questions, such as should we be developing policies that encourage disadvantaged families to have fewer children?" he wrote.

According to a report in the Guardian, Jones told that capping child support benefits for up to two children could be among strategies geared at reducing the number of those in out-of-home care.

"It's a tough call, it's out of kilter with how our system currently works, but there are other countries that make these decisions in the best interest of the community," he said.

He denied suggesting that particular groups be disincentivised from having children but said limiting financial support would send the message that "if you have more children, it's your responsibility to provide for them." Jones imagined that as one response among a range intended to solve a "multifaceted, complicated problem," and compared it to long-term, multi-pronged initiatives to reduce tobacco-related and road fatalities.

Another strategy would be to redirect resources to support vulnerable children towards "strengthening the family into which they are born" by supporting disadvantaged first-time mothers to pursue work or educational opportunities, he said.

Source: ANI