Effective and fair gatekeeping requires a system of safeguards and monitoring to prevent system abuse, and to ensure access to services for those who are most vulnerable. It is dependent upon an assessment and allocation process which is systematic and fair and the availability of a range of family support services and community based care options. Such supports may include economic strengthening, social assistance programmes, family services, including day care, and health or education provision.
To support family unity and prevent the unnecessary entry of a child into the care system, a thorough assessment of the child’s individual needs is required in order to determine the most suitable family support service or alternative community care option. This should be combined with a high threshold for admission into care. The care plan for the child and the available services require regular reviews, with the emphasis on the best interests of the child.
The use of gatekeeping to reduce the institutionalisation of children requires a commitment to appropriate child care policies at state level. Resources and staff must be sufficient to assess needs and service entitlement, and provide services for children and their families. Such efforts require a high level of co-ordination between providers from government and non-governmental child care organisations.
The documents in this section provide information on mechanisms for effective gatekeeping in order to reduce the unnecessary entry of a child into out-of-home care and avoid inappropriate forms of care.