Woods Report

November 26, 2008 at 9:26 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Child Protection, Links, Media, Resources | 1 Comment

There’s been a flurry of media attention on Child Protection following the release of the Woods report into Child Protection in NSW.

Dorothy Scott was a guest again on Radio National this morning calling the report a National Blue Print for Reform.  She said the recommendations were closely modeled on the Victorian system of Child Protection which is an interesting perspective.

The Australian published an initial response to the report yesterday and a follow up from Caroline Overington today. Today’s article particularly looks at how the Victorian system can be compared to the NSW system, backing up Dorothy Scott’s observation that the recommendations in the report closely resemble the current Victorian system.

Similarly The World Today also made some comparisons between the two and tackled the issue of mandatory reporting which has been among recent criticisms by Overington.

For a more personal perspective from inside the system, be sure to listen to the series on Life Matters where foster children give their perspective. Yesterday’s interview really opened an opportunity to hear children’s voices and was a timely reminder of who is really important in this debate.

Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW

November 25, 2008 at 10:22 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection, Resources | 1 Comment

The NSW report has been released. It’s certainly an interesting read especially in light of recent media attention on the system in NSW.

Foster Care on Australia Talks

November 24, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Media | Leave a comment
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Today’s Australia Talks program on Radio National discussed a huge range of issues for foster carers, children, workers and the system with many interesting points of debate.

The guests were: Professor Dorothy Scott, director Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia, Bev Orr, president Australian Foster Care Association, Sue O’Connor, president Foster Parents Support Network, Dr Howard Bath, Children’s Commissioner for the Northern Territory.

A few foster carers rang in to offer their perspective which was a really important rebuttal to the recent negative comments made about the motives of carers (particularly from The Australian newspaper). All carers who rang in or who were guests were able to reclaim the due respect all carers around Australia deserve as volunteers caring for our most vulnerable.

Other important points raised were the shortage of carers, particularly Indigenous carers and Muslim carers in Victoria. The importance of stability for children in care, Kinship care was alluded to many times and the idea of increasing residential housing was also raised. Allegations and the associated difficulties for carers were also discussed. On this point I would like to echo the response from the panel: this topic is covered in depth in pre-service carer training which although doesn’t make the experience any more pleasant, helps carers understand why it may have happened, why the response is the way it is and how to access supports to help deal with such an experience.

What was clear was the diversity of issues facing different states and the impossibility to make blanket statements of particular problems of an Autralian system- except perhaps a general shortage of resources!  

Anglicare Victoria was mentioned specifically for its work in retention of carers through the P-Plate SET (referred to on-air as the P-Plate Club). SET stands for Support Education and Training and the P-Plate SET, organised for new carers (in their first 2 years of involvement) is one of a number of support sessions held for carers, including Adolescent SET, Disability SET etc so that groups can be specific to the interests and needs of different groups of carers. The SET groups are intended as a social occasion for carers to build networks and communities of support as well as an opportunity to include a more formal aspects of information and education. Though the SET programs are in their infancy, even in a short space of time they have been found to be successful from all points of view.

Tomorrow morning Life Matters on Radio National will begin a series speaking to foster children. We will post our responses and links to podcasts here as they become available.

In the meantime, I’d be very interested to hear what you think about the points raised and any other things you think should have been mentioned on the program.

Information Night Invitation

November 19, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Coming Events, Events | Leave a comment

Anglicare Victoria is holding an information night on Thursday evening at 7:30pm. Anyone who would like to know more about foster care and how to get involved is welcome to come along.

Anglicare Victoria Box Hill
7-11 Shiplet St, Box HIll
Thursday November 20th, 7:30pm
1300 889 335 for details

DOCS Slammed By The Australian

November 13, 2008 at 8:19 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Media | Leave a comment
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The Australian continued with its reporting on the state of foster care this week, this time slamming the Department of Community Services in New South Wales for ostensibly not knowing each of the foster carers in the state personally. The saga continues. You can read the full article here .

St Luke’s avoid “double ups”

November 11, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Articles, Issues for Fostering, Media | 2 Comments

St Luke’s has taken the lead on an interesting movement for foster care in Victoria. About three years ago they decided to make it their policy to avoid “double ups” that is: (where possible) only related children are placed together. This means that carers will only have one sibling group placed with them at any given time whether that is just one child or up to 3-4 siblings. This marks quite a change as across the state many agencies are currently quite comfortable in asking their experienced carers to take on multiple placements where it is seen as appropriate and safe. Multiple placements are a result of a shortage of carers. 

St Luke’s decision is based on firm research so we can predict positive outcomes for children. Already, Kaye has told us that there has been a remarkable increase in placement stability, “87% of children had only 1 placement (in the same episode of care).” We look forward to reading the related paper from the recent national foster care conference when it appears online. 

The Circle program (which began a roll out process in small batches last year) is underscored with a similar philosophy. As a therapeutic care program its approach is also based on the premise that foster carers will only work with one child at a time except where children part of a sibling group.

Carer reimbursements slammed

November 11, 2008 at 8:33 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Media | Leave a comment
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A rather ludicrous article appeared in The Australian this week, suggesting that foster care was a profitable business. Unfortunately there is no mention of what providing care for these children and young people actually costs, only a strong inference that some carers are doing it for the money. It is important to note that the reimbursement rates mentioned in the article, those in NSW, are the highest in the country. While it is true that some carers may not provide the care we would hope for, this article tragically undermines all the positive work that we in the foster care system are trying to do on a daily basis. You can read the full article here .

Creative solutions for WA child offender

November 5, 2008 at 8:58 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Media | Leave a comment
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The Australian this week has reported on the case of the ‘worst teen’ in Western Australia. This article appeared on the front page on the 31st of October.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and comments on this case. I think it is necessary for us to continue thinking outside the box when it comes to solutions for some of the children, young people and families with whom we work. However, we must be extremely careful about throwing labels such as ‘the worst teen in WA’ about.

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