Report On Baby Deaths In State Care

May 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Articles, Child Protection, Media | Leave a comment
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An article published in the Herald Sun today outlines findings of the Victorian Child Death Review Committee which shows that 11 babies and another 4 children died while under state care last year.  11 of the 15 children had active child protection cases when they died.. 

While reading this article, it is important to keep in mind that babies and young children die everyday, and not every death is preventable. 

You can read the full article here .

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Leaving care

May 28, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Media | Leave a comment
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We’ve referred to the challenges faced by young people leaving care before, this article gives quite a few perspectives on the reasons why children who have a state care or foster care background are at a higher risk of homelessness and is well worth a read.

Also this article also shows some movement from the government on foster care.

Federal government touted to become more involved in foster care

May 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Media | 1 Comment

An article published today in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald documents federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin’s comments about a discussion paper released yesterday. You can read the article here . It will be interesting to see if the new Federal Government will take a closer interest in child protection issues.

An Elaboration on Abandonment

May 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Articles, Issues for Fostering, Media | Leave a comment
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A local Victorian paper recently wrote an article about the need for baby carers becasue of “A surge in abandoned babies and a shortage of foster carers”. While the article prompted an excellent level of publicity for foster care and generated an unprecedented number of calls from potential foster carers, we thought it best to clarify the underlying messages in the article.

Abandonment is such an powerful word; it is accusational and resentful for the birth family as much as it is sympathetic towards the child. It is so easy to begin to blame birth families of children in care, especially when they are faceless and voiceless.

One way or another, a person only neglects the needs of their own child when their own problems are so huge that they’re towering over them, clouding their ability to see anything else. These problems can include drugs, alcohol, mental illness, gambling addiction, homeslessness or poverty just to name a few. 

So while “abandoned babies” grabs headlines, we must remember that most parents love their children with all their hearts. In all likelihood, our society abandoned these parents.

Discrimination

May 19, 2008 at 11:18 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Issues for Fostering, Media, Supports for Carers | 1 Comment

Although this article is now almost a month old, having just come across it I thought I would post the link regardless.

Diversity should be embraced; all children are different and a variety of family types and qualities within a carer pool is the key to providing care which meets the needs of each individual child.

There is a support group specificially to address issues which concern gay and lesbain carers specifically.

Of course, any family or person wishing to become involved in foster care in Victoria must undergo training which is compulsary under Victorian law, and they must also go through an assessment process.

Disability Respite

May 14, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Posted in About Fostering, Around the Nation, Articles, Child Protection, Issues for Fostering, Media | 3 Comments
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Major components of disability programs for foster care are respite care and support through “Friends”. On Monday night Four Corners aired a program called “In My Shoes”, a very confronting perspective of why disability supports such as these are necessary for families struggling to cope with the 24hour needs of children with Disabilities. Although I highly recommend the program or even just a read of the transcript for an insight into challenges faced, there seem to be some inaccuracies in the representation of supports such as respite care which are available.

I would also like to relate some of the statements made by the program to the Victorian context (I don’t know enough about the specifics in other states to comment more broadly).

This program interviewed Sharon Guest and Stuart Neale, caring for their severely disabled daughter, Jessie, who said that the only choices offered to them was to continue caring without support or relinquish their child to Child Protection (in NSW, DOCs). DOCs has actually responded to these statements and other ambigous claims, which was actually a relief to read since the allegations are really out of sink with what I know to be the case here in Victoria. Its a shame that these points couldn’t be cleared up before the program went to air.

The organisation I work for offers families of children with disabilities Respite Care or “Shared Family Care”. For example, a child might live with a foster carer during the week, and at home on the weekends. These kinds of options are negotiated with the family according to their needs and the ability we have to meet them. These are what we call Voluntary Placements and can be ended any time by the family.

The Disability Program supports children and young people up to the age of 18 and beyond in this type of Home Based Care.

I also would like to mention that the majority of children supported by the Disability Program have Intellectual Disabilities, such as developmental delays or autism, rather than the common perception of disability as automatically associated with wheel-chairs. Like all programs though, the Disability Program is chronically short of carers which makes finding ideal placements sometimes very difficult.

Happily, it seems that some amendments in this year’s Federal Budget are pleasing carer groups and families, which is great news for families.

Increases in babies

May 14, 2008 at 9:49 am | Posted in About Fostering, Articles, Child Protection, Issues for Fostering, Media | Leave a comment

The Age has echoed our recent experiences in increases in the number of babies and young children in Victoria. This article also has some tangible stats which helps give some perspective to the issue, and I think is a more genuine interrogation of why this is occurring, in this case, attributed to the baby boom. I’m no expert so I could neither endorse or reject this opinion, but it is an interesting idea to add to the mix.

Of course, add we’ve mentioned before, an increase in babies needing placements added to a strained supply of carers, particularly those available for the amount of time needed to care for a baby (ie. not in paid employment) and its little wonder we’ve been challenged in this respect over the past few months.

National Volunteer Week

May 12, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Events | Leave a comment

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every foster carer for invaluable contributions to the lives of countless children and young people, and towards supporting and building stronger communities.

Foster care agencies rely on carers to provide full-time care, short-term, emergency, respite and mentorship, through to helping out with recruitment promotion and administration. Without volunteers, foster care would not exist.

The National Volunteers Week website suggests these ideas for doing your bit for this week.

  • Call talkback radio and mention it is National Volunteer Week and that you would like to say thank you to every volunteer listening
  •  Write a letter to the editor of your major daily newspaper thanking volunteers
  • Personally say thank you to anyone you know who volunteers
  • Suggest to your employers that they say thank you to staff members who volunteer and recognise their efforts
  • Download the Certificate of Appreciation template and use that to recognise volunteers in your group

They also have a Fast Facts sheet  

National Volunteers week is also a great reminder of the need for more people to become involved. For anyone who is considering becoming a carer, there will be an information night tonight in Ashburton, see the events listing for more details.   

Should parents be jailed for neglecting children?

May 9, 2008 at 9:33 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Child Protection, Issues for Fostering | Leave a comment

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh appeared on the ABC’s Life Matters the other day discussing a new scheme to jail parents who leave children unsupervised to do things such as gambling, drinking or shopping.

While most of us would agree that leaving young children unsupervised for long periods of time for any reason is unwise and potentially life-threatening to these children, it seems like a huge jump from there to incarcerating their absent parents. Let’s think about our goals here for a minute – surely the primary problem here is that young children are being left without a caregiver for long periods of time? This being the case, incarcerating their primary caregiver, therefore making them unable to provide care for their child at all, seems like a rather self-defeating measure.

We must also take into account the huge cost of such an exercise as well as the potential strain on the already struggling foster care system. By putting in to place such a scheme we would also be knowingly placing some of the most vulnerable members of society in a criminogenic environment, which is in itself a major concern.

Surely the sensible thing to do is provide education and support to assist parents in understanding the needs of their children. Sanctions may be appropriate for repeat offenders, but let them be productive – compulsory attendance at parenting programs or a supervision order. More primary caregivers in prison is not going to solve anyone’s problems, least of all those of the child.

The audio can be found here, and a related article from the ABC website can be found here.

Pyjama Foundation

May 7, 2008 at 10:41 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Supports for Carers | Leave a comment
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The Pyjama Foundation… taking time to read aloud to children    

The Pyjama Foundation Mentor Training Program equips volunteer angels to read aloud to children in foster care on a weekly basis.  The Program offers foster parents support and a well-deserved respite.  Our angels provide extra READING ALOUD experiences for children in care to increase the number of books read aloud to them and:

  • assist improve their levels of literacy
  • inspire a love of learning and a belief in self-worth
  • help them to become confident people valued by our society
  • The Pyjama Foundation highlights the national importance READING ALOUD TO ALL AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN.

Thanks for letting us know about this organisation, Helen, what fantastic work!

Many foster care agencies also run mentorship type programs with various emphases and called various things, such as “Big Brother, Big Sister”, “Friends” and many others, but this is the first I’ve heard of a program specifically to support foster carers and foster children with literacy in particular. Currently Pyjama Foundation runs out of Queensland but we look forward to the national roll out!    

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