Page 356 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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expand Karinya House so that it can provide 24-hour supervised support for up to three months for mothers whose babies are at risk of entering care. We want to get in early to provide support before a baby has to leave their family.

I would like to briefly show the value of this investment. While I was at Karinya House I met two young women who were staying there, the manager of Karinya House and volunteers as well. It was wonderful to hear about the plans that these young women had for themselves and their children’s future thanks to Karinya House. The challenges they and their babies had faced were huge, but thanks to this support they were now turning their lives around. It was easy to see at first hand the impact of stepping up to provide the right support at the right time. Expanding the services at Karinya House will help us step up for even more vulnerable young mothers and their babies.

Another announcement was the child health passport. This is a document for children in out of home care that will stay with them and track critical health information. The first round of the passports is being distributed this month to all children aged 14 and under entering out of home care. It is only a small cost but with major benefits. Carers have told us the difficulties that they often have in knowing the complete health history of a child or young person in their care, and this passport will address that.

As I mentioned earlier, “A step up for our kids” will provide agencies with far more autonomy than ever before, something that they have asked for. For the first time these organisations will be responsible for case management of all children in kinship, foster and residential care where they are on a long-term order. It will also create a continuum of care where service providers are providing support throughout a child or young person’s time in care. It is a significant change and we are working closely with service providers to ensure that the new system can be delivered. The sector is excited about the reforms and there is already a lot of interest being shown.

The Community Services Directorate held a pre-tender information session on 2 February, attended by more than 50 people from 30 different organisations. There was strong interest from our valued local service providers as well as organisations from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. I expect the formal tender will be released later this month. My directorate also recently met with peak organisations to discuss the new strategy and is hosting ACT carer roundtable sessions to talk to carers about how changes under the strategy will affect them.

We have begun to establish a team of therapeutic assessors who will gradually assess all children and young people under the new system. The therapeutic assessment model is central to the implementation and success of a trauma-informed system which is based on the understanding that all children and young people who enter care have suffered trauma as a result of the circumstances that have led them to enter the care system. Initially, assessments will focus on children and young people entering the care system and the needs of young people who reside in non-family-based placements. All assessments will result in a therapeutic plan which will be implemented and reviewed regularly. “A step up for our kids” is a five-year strategy and in that time I will be able to provide the Assembly with updates on how this strategy is supporting vulnerable children, young people and their families.

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