663 children removed from homes

LAST financial year 663 children across northern NSW were removed from their families by the Family and Community Services (FACS) department.

The region has the second largest number of children removed in the state, according to figures obtained by The Northern Star.

That took the number of children in the department's care across the region at the end of June last year to 2950 - again the second highest in the state behind the Hunter/Central Coast region.

FACS used to be known as DOCS.

Clarence MP Steve Cansdell said there needed to be a "whole-of-government approach" rather than just leaving the problems to FACS.

"The children who are in care are in care for a reason and the foster families out there do an amazing job, but the children would rather be with their biological parents," he said.

A FACS spokesperson said the children were removed as a "last resort" after it was determined they had been abused, neglected or were at risk of serious harm.

Most reporting to the department's helpline related to domestic violence, physical abuse, neglect and drug/alcohol abuse.

However, a person familiar with the situation said most local children were taken from their parents because of substance abuse.

The FACS spokesperson said the children were found various alternative accommodations, including foster, relative or kinship care.

Area manager of Lismore's Interrelate service Julie Leete said she was not surprised by the large number removed in the region.

"In our region the Family and Community Services are very high volume - they get lots and lots of notifications," she said.



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