ACWA has commenced work on a project aimed at establishing a national policy focus on kinship care.
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.
Funded by a grant from the Sidney Myer Fund’s Poverty and Disadvantage Program, ACWA’s Kinship Care: Making It a National Issue initiative will lay the groundwork for the development of a coherent policy approach to kinship care in Australia through a number of key activities:
- Establishing a reference group: ACWA is currently establishing a reference group made up of representatives from government agencies, NGOs and academia across Australia, to guide and support the project. If you are interested in participating and would like further information on how to put your name forward email ACWA: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mapping and reviewing current kinship care policies and service provision: The project will undertake high-level tracking of current policy and service provision across state and territory governments and NGOs.
- The Kinship Care National Forum: A one-day national forum, bringing together state and federal government representatives, kinship carers and NGO and academic stakeholders, will be held on 23 August 2018 at the Human Rights Commission. Registration for this event will open soon. In the meantime keep up to date with information about the Forum and join our mailing list by emailing: email@example.com
- ACWA 2018 Conference: As part of our upcoming national conference in August, ACWA has established a kinship care subject stream and will be inviting an international plenary speaker to present on this topic. If you would like to put your name forward to present a paper on kinship care which focuses on your practice or research please go to our conference abstracts web page. If you have any questions about submitting an abstract for the Kinship Care Session please contact Dr Wendy Foote at ACWA on (02) 9281 8822 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Special developing practice issue: Contributions to and recommendations resulting from our National Forum will be published in a special issue of ACWA’s developing practice journal, which will be guest edited by Dr Meredith Kiraly (University of Melbourne).