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Children at risk, Victorian Auditor-General says

The Victorian department responsible for the health and wellbeing of kindergarten-age children is failing to ensure vulnerable families don’t slip through the cracks, an independent report has found.

Auditor-General Des Pearson has recommended the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development develop a better understanding of service demand so children from families facing issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and violence don’t go unnoticed.

“[The department] cannot demonstrate that early childhood services are accessible when and where needed, especially for vulnerable children and families,” he said in a report tabled to parliament on Wednesday.

“These children remain vulnerable throughout the health and education system, further delaying the likelihood of detection and any timely intervention.

“This is a significant problem.”

Mr Pearson said despite an increase in maternal and child health participation, attendance at the 10 health and developmental checks progressively falls, particularly after a child is eight weeks old.

He recommended the department work with maternal and child health providers to work out the reasons behind the trend and develop strategies to tackle the problem.

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