In response to the Victorian Auditor-General’s Kinship Care Performance Audit, Sue Sealey, Deputy CEO of Anglicare Victoria, said:
“Anglicare Victoria is grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the Kinship Care Performance Audit, and welcomes the recommendations the Auditor General has tabled in Victoria’s Parliament today.
“This important report will result in improvements for Kinship Care programs across the state, and as an organisation, Anglicare Victoria is committed to assisting in the implementation of these recommendations.
“The most important work we do at Anglicare Victoria is provide safe and secure homes to children and young people who can’t remain with their families. We are pleased to have offered our experience and expertise in a process that works to improve the out-of-home care system in Victoria for the better.
“We look forward to continuing our work alongside the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) to apply the suggested system changes, and to further develop the Kinship Care model in a way that best supports the unique circumstances of Kinship Care families.
“In our view, the most effective way to provide immediate support to Kinship Care families is by raising the reimbursement received for Kinship Care in line with foster carer allowances.
“Not only is the carer left out-of-pocket in a Kinship Care arrangement, but these families are not privy to other supports enjoyed by foster carers, such as funding for practical items to assist with a foster care placement, a new bed-frame or car seat for example.
“Also, Kinship families receive fewer allocated hours of support they can utilise from agencies such as Anglicare Victoria. This too, needs to be brought in line with the allocations foster carers receive from agencies to support their role in looking after children in out-of-home care.
“With growing pressure on the out-of-home care (OOHC) system as a whole, the need to support Kinship Carers to remain in the system is more important than ever. In recent years, the responsibility of the vast majority of child caregiving services, such as such as Home Based Care and Residential Care, have been transferred across to Community Services Organisations (CSOs), such as Anglicare Victoria, and Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs). Kinship services however, still remain under the control of DFFH. Transferring Kinship services to CSOs and ACCOs would allow Child Protection to focus on its core responsibility of investigating child abuse and neglect, and forensic assessment and planning.
“Having successfully managed Home Based Care and Residential Care, CSOs have demonstrated their expertise and ability to provide exemplary care to varied needs of children in OOHC, their carers and families. We believe these agencies would be well placed to deliver a more comprehensive Kinship Care program, providing a focussed and responsive service to support all children and carers in Kinship care families.
“Kinship carers provide loving homes to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the community, and they deserve a higher level of support to what they are currently receiving. We call for further funding in this space so that these important recommendations can be implemented in a timely manner.”