Reports children rescued from abusive homes are being forced to sleep in office buildings and hotels because of a lack of space is worrying but also rare, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) says.
News Corp on Thursday reported young children rescued from abusive homes are spending the night in government offices with caseworkers, with the use of emergency accommodation such as motels and hotels being commonplace.
FACS chief Michael Coutts-Trotter rejected claims that children sleeping in offices is commonplace, telling the ABC hasn't had a confirmed report of a child sleeping in an office.
At-risk children sleeping in hotels, offices 'extraordinarily rare', NSW Government says https://t.co/jqRHeOKqpj— ABC News Sydney (@abcnewsSydney) July 27, 2016
"But I don't want to say it's never happened," he told the ABC on Thursday.
He said that out of the 20,000 children in his department's care last year, 350 spent time in hotels.
"That's before they can be placed with extended family or with foster carers," he said.
"It's a rare event, I wish it didn't happen at all but it does from time to time."
He also rejected claims his department was under resourced.
The News Corp article reported that in one incident a young girl who was rescued from drug abusing parents had to sleep for four days "on and off" on a bean bag her Elmo toy and a blanket for comfort.
"The situation is appalling," Public Service Association assistant general secretary Steve Turner told News Corp.
"There's now a shocking amount of children being put up by FACS offices overnight.
"There are no beds in there. It's a government office and it's not appropriate and it shouldn't be happening. The worker has to stay with them."
Acting NSW Family and Community Services Minister John Ajaka told the Daily Telegraph the Out of Home care system was under strain and in need of reform.
"Which is why we announced record budget funding this year including new money of $560 million over the next four years to meet increased demand for child protection," he said.