The Andrews Labor Government has developed a new model for kinship care that will identify carers earlier, strengthen community connections for Aboriginal children in care and deliver better, more flexible support.
The new model – part of a new package of measures for kinship carers – is supported by a $33.5 million investment and recognises the vital role that kinship carers play in caring for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable children.
Kinship care is provided by relatives or a member of a child’s social network to children at risk who cannot live with their parents. This is predominantly undertaken by grandparents.
The changes will focus on:
- Better and earlier identification of kinship carers through new kinship networks
- Strengthening connections for Aboriginal children and young people with family reunification supports, culture and community
- Assisting carers, children and young people through increased, ongoing and flexible support and
- Increasing case management of kinship placements by community service organisations.
There is also a greater emphasis on assessing the needs of carers, children and young people. This includes:
- 36 new dedicated kinship practitioners employed by the Department of Health and Human Services to actively search for a child or young person’s family and support them to provide care
- Kinship carers will also now have access to these dedicated practitioners who will act as a key contact point helping kinship carers when things change or when they need assistance
- Additional support for new kinship placements by Child and Family service organisations, including Aboriginal agencies. New placements will be better supported from the start and by identifying the needs of carers, children and young people and linking them to the supports they need
- Additional support to Aboriginal agencies to strengthen assistance to Aboriginal children and young people including finding extended family, supporting carers and helping children and young people return to their parents where possible
- Additional flexible brokerage funding to support and stabilise existing Kinship care placements.
The Labor Government has also released a new manual for Kinship Carers. The manual is available at https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/kinship-care
These new measures align with the Government’s $168 million Roadmap for Reform, specifically improving home based care and outcomes for children in out of home care.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“We’re strengthening kinship care across Victoria to ensure they’re given even greater support to look after some of our most vulnerable children.”
“We know that kinship carers need more support – this is about enhancing the quality of the placement and providing greater stability and support for children.”