Page 1028 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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(2) What unfunded services exist for foster carers seeking support while providing care for children in out-of-home care and do these same provisions exist for kinship carers.

(3) If kinship carers are unable to access these funded options, what other funded options are available to them.

(4) What actions are the ACT Government taking to provide support for kinship carers in the community.

Ms Stephen-Smith: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) A range of respite support options are made available to foster and kinship carers through ACT Together as required, and in the best interests of the child and the caring family. ACT Together maintains a pool of respite foster carers who are asked to commit to a 12 month respite placement of one weekend per month. In recognition of the specific needs of some placements, ACT Together funds external referrals for respite, such as camps. Respite for carers in some circumstances can be provided in a therapeutic way that supports the attachment and bond between carer and child. This can include services such as babysitting and house cleaning.

(2) ACT Together is funded to provide services for both kinship and foster carers. They provide services for all foster carers and for kinship carers who care for children and young people on long-term court orders. These services include case management, debriefing, advocacy, training and referral to other services as needed. Therapeutic supports including counselling and training are provided for both foster and kinship carers through ACT Together’s therapeutic service. For kinship carers this includes free family and individual counselling. Both foster carers and long-term kinship carers receive the same level of support and consistent, coordinated case management services.

Carers ACT provides a Kinship and Foster Care Advocacy Support Service to provide independent support and advice to assist carers in their caring role and resolve issues with service providers and/or Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS).

A Step Up for Our Kids has also introduced a range of additional supports for carers to assist them in their caring role. These supports include:

i. training for kinship and foster carers on how to provide trauma-informed care to vulnerable children and young people;

ii. ensuring carers are provided with appropriate information and support right from the start of the placement by providing children entering care with a therapeutic assessment; and

iii. ensuring that carers have access to key health information about the child or young person in their care through the provision of Health Passports.

(3) Kinship carers are able to access all services listed in the responses to questions 1 and 2.

For kinship carers caring for children on short-term orders, respite support can be provided by respite carers from ACT Together. This is requested via the CYPS placement coordinator and is dependent on availability of respite carers.

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