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Child protection boss calls for multi-agency approach

South Australia's outgoing child protection boss has offered a spirited defence of her time in the job and urged a multi-agency approach to better combat neglect and abuse.

Appearing at a parliamentary hearing on Monday, Cathy Taylor said she was proud of what the state had achieved but did not underestimate the scope and complexity of the challenges that remained.

She rejected any suggestions she had forced to resign as head of the embattled Department of Children Protection.

Ms Taylor, who will leave her role at the end of April, said a multi-service approach must be used to ensure children and families at risk of abuse and neglect are better provided with skilled interventions.

"We can't rely on investigating and removing children from their families as our primary response," she said.

"Thinking that child protection starts and finishes with DCP is doing this state and child protection a disservice."

Ms Taylor said authorities must understand the challenges families face with other issues such as poverty, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse and mental health.

"We've got to invest in services that are working with families from early in a child's life," she said.

Ms Taylor and her department have been under fire in recent months for their handling of cases of abuse and neglect, particularly those involving the death of a seven-year-old boy in February last year and a six-year-old girl in July.

Police are investigating both deaths as possible cases of criminal neglect.

The agency also came in for criticism in 2020 when it was revealed two 13-year-old girls in state care had become pregnant, one to a convicted paedophile.

In response to questioning on Monday about those cases, Ms Taylor revealed there had been other pregnancies with "less than five" currently in the system.

In relation to her decision to quit, Ms Taylor said the government had not pressured her to resign after more than six years in the role.

She said she felt her decision had caught Premier Peter Malinauskas and Child Protection Minister Katrine Hildyard by surprise.

"The only person who made a decision about it being time was me. Obviously, I spoke to my family," she said.

""So please rest assured, this is a Cathy Taylor, it's time decision."

However, Ms Taylor wouldn't be drawn directly on whether Ms Hildyard should give up her other portfolios of recreation, sport and racing, despite ongoing calls from the opposition for the minister to do so to focus on the child protection crisis.

Opposition Leader David Speirs said it was shocking to learn from Monday's hearing that the minister only met with Ms Taylor twice a week.

"This is a portfolio that needs a strong ministerial hand with very clear strategic direction coming from the minister, holding the department and bureaucrats to account," he said.