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A contemporary vision for foster care

Media Release - A contemporary vision for foster care - April 2024

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and foster care agencies across Victoria have kick-started the design of a new approach to foster care to better support the changing face of carers and recognise the needs of children who need foster care.

At a briefing and roundtable for agencies last week the Centre’s CEO Deb Tsorbaris said it was time to reimagine a home-based care model that reflects changes in our communities and families and acknowledges the incredible work of carers.

“The cost-of-living crisis is pushing some foster carers to leave and deterring others from becoming carers. This situation puts pressure on existing carers and takes an emotional toll on workers,” says Ms Tsorbaris.

The Centre presented its latest research review into foster care models, alongside demographic data from the Demographics Group, and research from Behaviour Works at Monash University on attracting carers in Victoria.

Research shows that foster care is in a national crisis. More than 45,000 children are in care across Australia, but there are only 9000 foster care homes throughout the country and there have been marked drop-offs in new carers.

“We know outcomes for children in out-of-home care are better in home-based care. We’re seeing more children and young people entering out-of-home care and in need of a foster home, but fewer carers.”

Ms Tsorbaris says while the data is concerning, it also presents the sector and Government with an opportunity to ensure that foster care meets the needs of children and responds to the needs of carers and families who would consider providing a loving home for a child in the future.

We need a more contemporary approach for foster care, and we know that the Commonwealth has policy and financial levers that could ease the financial burden on foster carers and better reflect the true cost of caring,” she says.

The Centre has called on the Allen Government to prioritise the following in the upcoming State Budget:

  • Designing a new approach to foster care – support and funding for the review and design of a new approach for home-based care.
  • Children with disability in home-based care – additional training and support for home-based carers to support children with disability and/or complex medical needs.
  • Mapping of services for children who are victims of family violence, maltreatment, or crime, and identification of, and funding for, gaps in specialist service provision, alongside investment in place-based, evidence-informed, therapeutic, and child-focused responses to meet the needs of child victim-survivors.
  • Family Services Sector funding – renew program funding due to end in 2024, for programs including the Family Preservation and Reunification response, Early Health Family Services initiative and Putting Families First program.
  • Focus on education outcomes – prioritising implementation of CCYP Let Us Learn report.
  • Focus on health outcomes – consistent with their recent educational inquiry, support for a CCYP review of the health experiences of children in care to improve their access to high-quality care and set them up well for healthy adult lives.

Read the Centre’s full 2024/2025 State Budget submission here.

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