Foster care shortages lead to system failures for vulnerable children in Victoria, advocates say & More Latest News

Victoria’s foster care system is in a “dire” scenario, with probably life-altering penalties for a few of the state’s most vulnerable children, sector leaders say.

The variety of children in out-of-home care has elevated in the previous 4 years, whereas the variety of lively foster carers in the state has decreased, information reveals.

“The situation is quite dire at the moment. We have more young people coming into care than the system can cope with,” Berry Street deputy chief government Jenny McNaughton mentioned.

“If you are going to remove a child from their parent, I believe we are absolutely obliged to offer a better alternative and the young person and the family absolutely deserve that.

“In some situations, I can not say that’s taking place. I can not say they’re higher off in some placements.”

More youngsters, fewer carers

The number of children in out-of-home care in Victoria has continued to rise each year since 2018, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.

A photo of a woman
Jenny McNaughton is the deputy CEO of Berry Street.(Supplied: Berry Street)

There were 12,809 children in out-of-home care in the state as of June 30, 2021, an almost 14 per cent increase from 11,271 in 2018.

Out-of-home care includes residential, kinship and foster care.

Meanwhile, the number of foster carers has declined in the same four-year period, with 1,784 carers recorded as active in Victoria as of March 2022, according to Foster Care Association of Victoria data.

There were 1,808 active carers at the same time in 2018.

“We have stunning households taking care of youngsters in superb methods, but it surely actually is at capability,” Ms McNaughton mentioned.

“What it means is typically we aren’t in a position to place a toddler with foster carers as a result of there are no placements.”

Foster carers, placement coordinators and organisation leaders say the situation is putting pressure on existing carers, taking an emotional toll on workers and creating undesirable outcomes for children.

They report more children in residential care homes at younger ages, being moved between emergency placements, separated from their siblings and spending nights in hotels with workers.

A man leans on his desk next to a computer.
Berry Street senior consumption employee Steve Densley says he cannot at all times discover children a house.(ABC News: Rochelle Kirkham )

Steve Densley has worked in the foster care system for 17 years and said he had his toughest week at work last month.

The senior intake worker at Berry Street in Ballarat said he had an influx of children needing a place to stay and he could not find homes for a lot of them.

“That is at all times on my thoughts, pondering ‘What may we have now performed higher for these children?” he said.

“Without the carers, I discover I can not do higher as a result of actually it’s the carers that present that care, and with out our carers we’ve not received a foster care program.

“We had so many children who needed a home and we just couldn’t facilitate that at all.”

Mr Densley mentioned he was undecided why there had been a decline in carer numbers, however suspected the coronavirus pandemic and rising monetary pressures may have performed a a task.



 

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