Tops cops plea: Save the kids
Time for action: Karl O'Callaghan. Picture: Megan Powell/The West Australian

WA's top cop believes more children should be taken away from neglectful parents in a bid to help curb the spiralling rate of juvenile crime and "save" a generation.

Child welfare advocates and politicians have called for earlier intervention with dysfunctional families after Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan wrote in an opinion piece for today's The Weekend West that some "incapable or unwilling" parents did not deserve to have charge of their children and it was time to ask whether they should.

OPINION: Parents must face the music: O'Callaghan

"Every chance we give these parents is one less chance we give the child," he said. "This is not about stealing a generation but saving an existing one."

Mr O'Callaghan has revealed the neglectful backgrounds of three young boys who allegedly attacked a 14-year-old girl at a Cannington park.

He said that all three came from homes where the adults had long criminal records.

"Every child we leave in this chaos is closer to inflicting chaos on all of us," Mr O'Callaghan said. The Department for Child Protection said an increasing number of children were taken into State care, with 957 kids and young people entering the care of the department last year.

Foster care agency Wanslea Family Services said last month that it was forced to turn down 185 referrals for children needing homes in the previous six months because of a lack of foster carers.

DCP director-general Terry Murphy said children would not be left in unsafe situations because of a lack of foster carers.

Acting Children's Commissioner Jenni Perkins said too often children came to the attention of responsible agencies too late and much damage had already been done.

She said the number of children formally placed in out-of-home care had almost doubled in Australia since 2003.

Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Dennis Eggington and Foster Care Association of WA director Fay Alford joined Ms Perkins' calls for more resources on early intervention for families struggling with domestic violence, drugs, alcohol and housing problems to help break the cycle.

"If we don't get our head around this problem, it will be a terrible legacy to leave for future generations," Mr Eggington said.

Mr Murphy said more attention was being focused on juvenile corrections and more than 300 families of young delinquents were working with the department and other agencies.

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said the Government had increased the department's budget by 73 per cent since 2008-09 to $588.4 million and allocated an additional $600 million to the non-government sector.

The West Australian

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