ACT For Kids regional director Debra Doherty is leading the set up of the Fostering Families trial on the Fraser Coast.
ACT For Kids regional director Debra Doherty is leading the set up of the Fostering Families trial on the Fraser Coast. Hannah Busch

Trial program to prevent child neglect takes first clients

A TWO-year early intervention trial to prevent child neglect on the Fraser Coast has begun taking its first clients.

About 22 families have been referred to the Fostering Families trial one month after charity ACT for Kids opened the doors to their Maryborough office.

ACT For Kids regional director Debra Doherty said most referrals had come from Maryborough and surrounding areas.

She predicted the January floods had put increased pressure on families.

"I think our referrals will increase considerably," Mrs Doherty said.

The State Government-funded trial has a footprint from Glenwood to Howard and north Eidsvold and offers counselling and in-home services designed to help make parents more resilient.

"We know that most families are just trying to do the best they can," Mrs Doherty said.

"Most people don't set out to neglect their children."

Referrals can come from teachers, Queensland Health staff and Department of Child Safety.

DOCS can refer families that show warning signs but who staff don't feel belong in the statutory system.

Mrs Doherty said families also had the ability to refer themselves.

The trial will take an estimated 80 families each year.

Maryborough MP Anne Maddern said she hoped the trial would be expanded at the end of the two years.

I'm sorry to say I believe there is a need there," she said.

Ms Maddern said the program had been welcomed by police officers and teachers on the Fraser Coast.

She said addressing neglect issues would also make school and other parts of life easier for the children.

"These kids are going to have a better life," Ms Maddern said.

Maryborough is one of three locations across Queensland for the $4 million trial, each chosen for the high number of children going into state care.



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