VULNERABLE foster children were placed in homes with carers who had serious criminal records, including rape, assault and drugs charges, with the full knowledge of the state government.
The Sunday Telegraph has obtained a leaked 2010 internal report that raises concerns with senior management in Family and Community Services (FACS) about five carers with serious criminal records.
One foster carer on the mid-north coast had an 18-page record, including two convictions for rape, three for assault, five for stealing, four for domestic violence and one of malicious wounding. The carer had done significant jail time.
The carer and his wife were paid $128,000 in foster payments each year to care for 10 children from 2005 onwards.
For Meredith and Elliott Gordon, life has dramatically changed since welcoming their daughter, Kathleen, into the family.
The West Ryde couple first met their daughter when she was eight months old and came into their care as a foster child.
Last November, after caring for her for two years, they adopted Kathleen – a process that would have taken longer if it was not for reforms the NSW government introduced last year to encourage foster parents to adopt the children in their care.
The Coalition plans to cap the removal of children for the next four years before DOCS would be asked to slash numbers by more than 20 per cent.
Under the plan, most of the more than 16,000 NSW children in foster care would be looked after by charities and the private sector.
Policy documents show the handover to the non-government sector would begin immediately if the Coalition wins the election.
The policy revelation came as the Coalition yesterday pledged a $120 million fighting fund for preventive health initiatives a day after The Daily Telegraph's People's Parliament unanimously voted for health policies to focus on prevention measures.
Liberal Community Services spokeswoman Pru Goward said that, despite fewer removals, children would be safer.
She said DOCS was now so overloaded it was failing.
Parents would be asked to enter contracts and prove they had combated problems such as drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence for a period of up to two years before their children could be returned.
A family preservation model would be adopted, with a focus on early intervention.
The State Opposition says mistakes made by the Department of Community Services over the removal of a young girl from her family should have been fixed earlier.
The Opposition's community services spokeswoman Pru Goward says a five year old girl was wrongly removed from her family and the mistake was only rectified after the intervention of the deputy ombudsman.