The opposition is blaming the NSW government's failure to call in outside help for the plight of a pregnant 12-year-old girl.
Community Services Minister Linda Burney has admitted major mistakes were made by the Department of Community Services (DoCS) in the case of the girl, whose mother allowed the baby's father, a 15-year-old boy, to share their home in Dubbo.
"It is true in my view that DoCS should have intervened more strenuously than what they did," Ms Burney said on Tuesday.
DoCS Deputy Director-General Annette Gallard confirmed her department did not have any direct contact with the family, despite serious concerns being raised by the girl's father.
"We did follow up on the concerns but we were unable to confirm the allegations," Ms Gallard said.
"We were doing all we could but unfortunately we were not able to make contact with the girl or her family."
Opposition community services spokeswoman Pru Goward said all DoCS had to do was call in outside help.
"That is all DoCS had to do. They just had to admit they couldn't cope and instead have rung a local community organisation and asked for support," Ms Goward told Fairfax Radio Network.
She said the case worker of the 12-year-old pregnant girl was undoubtedly overworked.
"I can be sure that the case worker that managed this was, like many other case workers that I have run into, supported by nobody and had nobody's judgment to go on but her own," she said.
"DoCS systematically fails children, they do not consult with families, they do not consult foster carers, they seem to have given up on teenage girls."
Ms Gallard admitted DoCS was currently overworked and that staff had given priority to other cases when they should have dealt with the girl's case.
She said self-harming cases and other children at risk had taken precedence.
"There were a range of other matters we were dealing with at the same time. In hindsight we should have done more."
Ms Gallard said DoCS dealt with 300,000 reports of children at risk every year.
Ms Goward vowed a coalition government led by Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell would allow community organisations to take the pressure off DoCS.
"Under an O'Farrell government you will see a lot more of this work given to local community organisations," she told Fairfax Radio Network.
Ms Goward said case workers in community organisations were paid less than DoCS case workers, but had a lower turnover rate.
"Their (community organisations') case workers are paid 20 per cent less than DoCS case workers and yet the turnover is a fraction of the DoCS turnover because they are properly mentored and supported and they take advice and consult each other," she said.
"It's the unions ... who are against the move towards community sector organisations playing a greater part because they want to keep the jobs in public service hands," she added.
brilliant parenting by the mother of that girl there. docs really did drop the ball, but honestly what the fuck is the mother thinking? i feel bad for the father, he obviously has a freaking brain.