2.1 Family support service use

Family support services are increasingly recognised as playing a critical role in assisting families and minimising or complementing statutory child protection intervention. Vulnerable and at-risk families are strengthened when they are identified early and are provided with appropriate services and supports to meet their needs.

These services work intensively with families to help create a safe home environment for their children, to avoid the need for out-of-home care, and to help reunite families after a child has been removed.

Note: the number of children who commence intensive family support services is only an approximate indication of the support families are receiving to allow children to live safely at home.

Trend data: For all indicator displays, the yearly trend is limited to indicators with 3 or more years (including the current year) of comparable time series data. To see the trend click on “Yearly Trend” button on the display. Where 3 or more years of comparable data including the most recent year is not available, a “No time series data” message is shown on the display.

The bar graph shows the number of children and young people aged 0–17 commencing intensive family support services in 2020–21 by Indigenous status, age group and sex.

Source: AIHW Child Protection Collection

See the supplementary data tables for further information and footnotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

The information below provides technical specifications for the summary indicator data presented in the quick reference guide.

National Framework Indicator 2.1 Family support services: Number of children aged 0-17 years seeking assistance through treatment and support services
  Definition Data source
Numerator Number of children aged 0-17 years who commenced intensive family support services in the reference period AIHW National Child Protection Data Collection
Denominator Not applicable Not applicable

Explanatory notes

The available data for this indicator capture selected family support services that have a funding relationship with the state/territory child protection department.

Available data are aggregate and limited in scope, including children commencing (not continuing) intensive family support services that state/territory child protection departments fund. Intensive family support services only include services that explicitly work to prevent imminent separation of children from their primary caregivers because of child protection concerns, and to reunify families where separation has already occurred. They are intensive in nature, averaging at least 4 hours of service provision per week for a specified short-term period (usually less than 6 months).

These data present the number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children commencing IFSS. Indigenous children represent 34% of the total number of children commencing IFSS. While this number is lower for Indigenous children compared to non-indigenous children, the proportion of Indigenous children who are represented in the child protection system overall is higher than non-Indigenous children.