One-stop shop for families
COFFS Harbour is one of seven towns and cities which is listed for a Child and Family Centre this financial year.
Five areas, including Tweed Heads, acquired the centres last financial year and there are plans to establish a further 13 in 2005-2006, including a centre at Lismore.
The NSW Minister for Community Services, Carmel Tebbutt, said the centres offered disadvantaged families a one-stop shop where they could access a range of services.
These services include parenting programs; childcare; specialised educational playgroups; family support and transitional school services to help vulnerable children.
She said the centres like 24 others being established across the State, were part of a plan to support families in need through the NSW Government's $150 million Early Intervention program.
"Drug and alcohol problems are on the increase in our community," Ms Tebbutt said.
"This is impacting on our children and young people and the latest statistics on reports of child abuse and neglect from the Department of Community Services (DoCS) clearly show this."
She said new figures showed there were a record 185,198 child protection reports, involving 194,552 children in 2003-04. She said there had been a 461 per cent increase since 1995-96.
Domestic violence, poverty and greater community awareness and reporting of child abuse and neglect are also considered to con- tribute to the increased figures.