Two major announcements for National Child Protection Week
The McGowan Government has expanded support services on offer to foster carers.
Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk announced $150,000 in new funding for the Foster Carers Association Western Australia (FCAWA), to enable them to employ three new part-time staff members to increase the level of support services to foster families.
And after travelling throughout Western Australia and meeting with carers and community service organisations, the Department of Communities will partner with foster carers to review foster carer processes, including:
- suitability assessments;
- support mechanisms; and
- how carers, families and case workers can work better together.
The aim of the review is to identify opportunities for improving foster carer processes so they may be implemented in the new year, with priority changes to be actioned as soon as possible.
The additional FCAWA support workers will each provide 10 hours of support, immediately building on the critical work being undertaken by the existing professional foster care staff.
The extra support will mean the association can spend more time working with foster carers to ensure both care partners – the carers and the Department of Communities – are working together to uphold the best interests of children in care.
In a separate announcement, the Department of Communities will work closely with Aboriginal communities on a new road map to address the unacceptably high number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders children make up about 55 per cent of children in out-of-home care in WA.
The action plan, to be developed in partnership with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) will guide future efforts to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care, identifying opportunities to prevent their entry into the system well before they are placed at risk.
There is evidence that Aboriginal young people whose parents have experienced out-of-home care are themselves at much greater risk of also experiencing similar outcomes.
Therefore, the plan will also focus on supporting Aboriginal young people as they transition out of care and into adulthood.
The announcements coincide with National Child Protection Week, which runs from September 1-7.
National Child Protection Week will culminate in the National Foster and Kinship Care Conference 2019 being held in Perth, with the fitting theme of ‘Walking Together’.
“The McGowan Government has met with foster carers and the Foster Carer Association WA, and is committed to providing the necessary support,” said Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk.
“We will continue to place an emphasis on building stronger relationships with all partners in care to ensure better outcomes for children and young people.
“There is no doubt that more needs to be done to reduce the number of Aboriginal children living in care in Western Australia.
“We cannot fix this issue overnight or by ourselves, but we know working together with Aboriginal children and young people, their families and community is the best way to achieve this.”