Page 168 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015
circumstances change. This increased stability will also be seen in the placing of a greater emphasis on creating a permanent home for a child in care through more investment in permanency and reducing the amount of time that children must wait before a permanent, secure placement can be arranged. The increased stability will also be seen as children enter adulthood, with the carer subsidy payment continuing for young people until the age of 21, where this is appropriate.
I believe that “A step up for our kids” will make a considerable difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people living in the out of home care system.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.
MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what difference will “A step up for our kids” make for carers?
MR GENTLEMAN: “A step up for our kids” is also about better supporting foster carers and kinship carers as valued partners in the care system. Carers are at the heart of support for children and young people in care. Carers provide the love, support and stability that vulnerable children and young people need as they rebuild and go forward with their lives. We are stepping up for foster carers, more so than ever before, with a more equitable system of support, the better provision of information and a more streamlined process.
In recent years we have invested in our relationships with carers, but we realise that sometimes a carer may not want to come to us with their concerns. This is why we are funding an independent advocacy service for carers to assist them in resolving issues with agencies. This is the first service of its kind in the ACT.
In stable homes, children are supported and given a home past the age of 18. The strategy looks to mirror this support by extending the period for which carer subsidy payments can be made, where appropriate, through to the age of 21, rather than stopping at 18. The strategy will set out the framework for improving the timeliness of decision-making processes affecting the carer, child or young person and carers will be able to secure permanency earlier than has been possible in the past.
Madam Speaker, kinship carers are the biggest providers of support for children and young people in care and we are stepping up for kinship carers. Kinship carers may often not have the full breadth of information for supporting children that foster carers do and we will address this matter through enhanced support and training opportunities. “A step up for our kids” will mean better support for kinship carers so that they can do the best for the children in their care.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.
DR BOURKE: Minister, over the lifetime of the strategy, what outcomes would you expect to see for children in care?
MR GENTLEMAN: As I have mentioned, “A step up for our kids” requires a significant cultural change in the way out of home care services are delivered in the ACT. We are working to build the foundations of a new system of care and I expect