Foster kids ‘five times more disturbed’

August 31, 2007 at 10:59 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Issues for Fostering, Media | 1 Comment

I’ve come across the following article which speaks about a study of the mental health of children in foster care in South Australia.  A study of this kind has recently been undertaken in Victoria and I hope to bring you some results soon.


By Tamara McLean

February 18, 2007 12:22pm

Article from: AAP

FOSTER children suffer up to five times more mental health problems than kids living with their families, and most are going without treatment, a new report has warned.

Rates of suicidal tendencies, attention problems and severe disruptive behaviour were the most extreme issues affecting Australia’s 20,000 foster children and teenagers.

The Adelaide-based study, comparing 6 to 17-year-olds in and out of foster homes, is the most comprehensive of its kind to paint a picture of mental health in this section on the welfare system.

Researchers found that 61 per cent of the foster kids failed the government’s official child behaviour check, compared with 14 per cent of other young people.

“We found that the prevalence of mental health problems experienced by children and adolescents in home-based foster care was two to five times higher than that in the general population,” said study leader Michael Sawyer, from the University of Adelaide.

Extrovert-type problems like aggression, attention difficulties and delinquency were six to seven times worse, and far outstripped introvert-type problems like withdrawal, anxiety or depression.

“Severe disruptive behaviour is of particular concern as it can continue into adulthood and is a source of significant economic burden for the whole community,” Prof Sawyer wrote in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.

Foster teenagers had much higher rates of suicidal behaviour than other children, with 6.7 per cent of 13 to 17-year-olds reporting a suicide attempt that had required medical treatment for an injury or overdose.

Most concerning, he said, was that while 53 per cent of caregivers believed their foster kids needed professional help, only 26 per cent were getting it.

“Our findings provide a major challenge for the community and for welfare services,” Prof Sawyer said.

He said the system was under increasing strain as welfare staff struggled to cope with large numbers of children with severe mental health problems, fewer suitable placement options and difficulty accessing help.

“It is unrealistic to expect volunteer caregivers to provide 24-hour support for these young people unless they receive high-quality professional support and adequate respite.”

The study results were collated from interviews with 326 foster children and their carers in central Adelaide between 2004 and 2006.                

– as found on

Hello all

August 30, 2007 at 10:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My name is Josh, and I’ve been haphazardly updating the blog while Christina has been on holiday.  I have finally got round to making myself an ‘official’ administrator on the blog so I may now be making posts and comments from time to time.

I work recruiting, training and supporting foster carers with a large community service organisation and my mother and I are both carers ourselves.  I hope that I will be able to share some relevant information with you all and that this blog continues to be useful to the public.


Free fruit for school kids

August 27, 2007 at 10:48 am | Posted in Articles, Media | Leave a comment

Victorian Premier John Brumby believes that free fruit at school will lead to behavioural change in our kids…full article at,23599,22221417-2,00.html .   Is it likely to make any impact on childhood obesity?

Children ‘bad for planet’?

August 27, 2007 at 10:43 am | Posted in Articles, Media | Leave a comment

An interesting article from The Australian, originally published in The Sunday Times, can be found here –,23599,21684156-5009760,00.html .  It discusses a paper by the Optimum Population Trust, which states that people should consider having ‘one less child’ to reduce their carbon dioxide output and other things of environmental concern.  See what you think.

The people you meet

August 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am staying with a friend in Adelaide and now have access to the internet for a couple of days, after a digital drought through country Victoria.  A colleague has been keeping the blog updated in my absence (thanks!).

We stopped at Ouyen for one night, a tiny town in the heart of Mallee Country, and apparently home of the best vanilla slice to be had anywhere in the state. We called into the bakery to sample the famous custard treat and met up with one of the unsung heroines of rural Victoria. A lady came up to us (or rather our 11 month old) and we learned that she had been fostering for around 35 years. She had also had some role with rural protective services. The lady had cared for many children, and was still in close relationship with one young person who came to her home as a baby. The young person has a child of her own. The foster carer spoke warmly about being a grandmother, and seeing a beautiful mother-daughter relationship develop between her foster-daughter and grandchild. After all her years of fostering, the carer’s enthusiasm has not waned. It is a privilege to hear stories like this, and I could have easily talked to her for hours. However, we each had our direction to follow across the wide brown land. And yes, the vanilla slice was good. Very good.

Father ‘in control’ of death plunge car

August 22, 2007 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A troubling story is being told about a father who allegedly deliberately drove a car containing his three children into a dam and left them there to die.  Apparently his actions stemmed from his desire to take revenge on his estranged wife.  This is yet another example of children being put in the middle and of the horrible consequences that this can have.

The full article here, at,23599,22283939-29277,00.html

Information Session – Box Hill

August 22, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Anyone in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs interested in becoming a foster carer or in finding more information about foster care should consider attending Anglicare Victoria’s foster care information evening next Tuesday the 28th of August.

Details:  7.30pm sharp start.  7-11 Shipley Street, Box Hill.  No confirmation of attendance is necessary.  Attendees will have the opportunity to talk to foster care staff, as well as experienced foster carers, and a free information DVD will be available.  Call Josh on 1300 889 335 with any queries. 

Leaving my post

August 17, 2007 at 2:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am going on holidays this weekend and will be away for just over two weeks.  For a fair bit of the time I will be in National Parks etc and won’t be anywhere near the internet.  So this blog will probably not get too much attention for a while!  I will be back online during the second week of September, so catch you all then. 

‘Welfare to work’ not working for carers

August 17, 2007 at 2:34 am | Posted in Issues for Fostering, Media | Leave a comment

New legislation is making its way through parliament that will see carers of disabled children receive $1000 per year to assist with support needs, including respite and special equipment.  The first payment is due this October. 

In the same article from yesterday’s Age, there was mention of further ‘Welfare to Work’ reforms.  ‘Principal carers’ of children who are not foster parents (eg grandparents) will be excempt from ‘Welfare to Work’ obligations.  That is good news for kinship carers, but still leaves grey areas for foster parents who may be obliged under current legislation to look for work in between placements, thus reducing their potential availability for future placements.  Carers often need a break in between full time placements, and should be able to do so without pressure to find work within a short period of time.  The proposed reform is a step in the right direction, but not enough.  If you are a carer and have had any experiences with this new legislation and how you have worked through it, we would love to hear your stories!

Inadequate sentence

August 17, 2007 at 2:19 am | Posted in Media | Leave a comment

Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, wrote an opinion piece published here concerning the inadequacy of the sentence handed out this week in Melbourne to the man who killed his stepson Cody Hutchings.  Killing a child does not attract as severe a penalty as killing an adult.   Tucci rightly highlights the vulnerability of children, and the need for legislation that adequately reflects the severity of crimes against children.  Tucci also raises important questions concerning prevention.  Do we know what to look out for in relation to abuse?  Do we know what to do if we suspect something is happening?

“Cody’s death is a reminder that child abuse does not only occur in remote parts of Australia. It happens in our own backyard to children we know. ”

A timely comment. 

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