The Alliance believes that children who are taken into care suffer personal trauma that requires treatment.

Care (food, clothing, shelter, even love) is not enough.

An increasing body of research is demonstrating that trauma in early childhood causes delays in neural/brain development3,4,5,6,7 that leave the child unable to cope with the normal demands of life at their age – let alone the added deprivation of being in care.

According to the 2008 Wood report1:

'Studies show that exposure to chronic violence, a lack of nurturing and/or chaotic, 'socially toxic' environments may significantly alter a child's neural development and result in a failure to learn, in emotional and relationship difficulties and in a predisposition to violent and/or impulsive behaviours.'

If there is no treatment, they might not grow the capabilities and skills they need for ordinary social, academic and personal development.

The extra-ordinary demands of growing up without direct parental care may be beyond their abilities, leading to behavioural and emotional problems. Often society will see these problems, not their causes, and respond in a punishment paradigm which reinforces the feeling of many children in care that they are to blame for the abuse or neglect inflicted on them.

Every child taken into care needs specific, intensive psychological, developmental and medical treatment to help them recover.

Yet in WA only a tiny minority of children receive consistent, ongoing treatment. Most get no treatment at all.

Most have to make their own way. When they fall short of behaviour and development standards, they are likely to be stigmatised and blamed for their inabilites.

This is truly a neglect of children who desperately need our help, who are in the direct care of the people of Western Australia. It's time we did something about it.

Research on the effects of trauma on neural/brain development

Self-regulation appears to require a sufficient amount of exposure to dyadic regulation. In other words, if you don't observe and experience self-regulation in significant others, you are unlikely to internalize the capacity for it yourself.

The problem of self-regulation may be passed on from generation to generation in family systems. Thus, traumatized and neglected children tend to become abusive and neglectful parents.3

That is, the brain may develop in ways that are maladaptive. A child may develop a chronic fear response or may become unresponsive and withdrawn which may aid in adaptation to a violent home environment but will be maladaptive in other environments like school or when making friends.1

Research demonstrates a link between specific violence related stressors in childhood, including child abuse and neglect or repeated exposure to domestic violence, with risky behaviours and health problems in adulthood.6

Infants of adolescent mothers with depressive symptoms show developmental and growth delays if their mother's symptoms persist over the first six months of the infant's life, thus highlighting the importance of identifying those mothers for early intervention.7