Kinship Care: Making It a National Issue

The use of kinship care for statutory child protection placements in Australia is burgeoning. The latest national AIHW figures (June 2017) reveal 47 percent of children living in out-of-home care were in kinship/relative care. ACWA is concerned about the lack of adequate, consistent policy and programmic responses for this growing form of care at both federal and state levels. For example:

  • Grandparent carers are eligible for free childcare (subject to means test) while other kinship carers are not.
  • Despite policy to the contrary, statutory kinship carers receive less financial support than foster carers.
  • Some kinship care placements are made by child protection without a care allowance being authorised.
  • Unlike foster care, kinship care assessments are undertaken post placement, and are frequently superficial. Alternative emergency placements are limited, rendering difficult the establishment of appropriate standards for kinship care placements.

Despite concerns about the safety of children in kinship care and the support provided to these carers, there is no national body advocating for a better response to this form of out-of-home care.

The Project

Funded by a grant from the Sidney Myer Fund’s Poverty and Disadvantage Program, ACWA’s Kinship Care: Making It a National Issue project aimed to establish a national policy focus on kinship care.

Key activities undertaken during the project included:

  • High-level tracking of current policy and service provision across state and territory governments and NGOs to identify service gaps and associated risks.
  • The hosting of a one-day national kinship care forum at the Australian Human Rights Commission in August 2018 to examine the issue and discuss solutions. A summary of the day, including presentations and outcomes, can be found in this wrap-up report.
  • A series of presentations at ACWA's at 2018 national conference.

The Final Report

In January 2019 ACWA released its final report Support for children in kinship care provided by the Commonwealth States & Territories of Australia.

Written by Dr Meredith Kiraly (University of Melbourne), the report provides a comparative view of kinship care policy and practice across Australia and identifies a range of areas where work is required to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in kinship care.

ACWA hopes this report will provide valuable information for further work in the area of kinship care service provision and policy development.

Other key documents developed under the project include: