Major Funding Boost for Home-based Care
17 March 2015 at 10:22 am
The Victorian Labor Government has announced a $43 million funding boost to move children out of residential care and into home-based care, with a focus on primary school age and Indigenous children.
Announcing the package at child and family welfare organisation Berry Street, Minister for Families & Children, Jenny Mikakos, said the Government’s priority was to ensure primary school age children lived in home-based care wherever possible.
“The Andrews Labor Government is taking immediate steps to boost the wellbeing of children and young people in out-of-home care, finding them the best possible placements and changing their lives for the better,” she said.
Home-based care – such as kinship and foster care – is preferable to care in residential units for most children but a shortage of home-based care has seen some children placed in residential care as a stopgap measure.
According to the Victorian Government, the new Targeted Care Packages will enable services and support to be targeted at the needs of individual children and the foster or kinship carers who look after them.
It said its the first priorities are to move primary school age children living in residential care into home-based care and to focus on the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
The Victorian Council of Social Service said the moving of vulnerable children out of residential care and into home-based care was a welcome approach.
“Supporting children to move into kinship and foster care through individually tailored Flexible Support Packages will help improve therapeutic care within the child protection system,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“The State Government should be commended for moving quickly to put $43 million over 4 years towards moving children out of residential care and into a supportive kinship or foster care environment.
“VCOSS is pleased to see that the new Flexible Support Packages are intended to cover the needs of each individual child. We also welcome the specific approach to move primary school age children out of residential care into home-based care and to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.”
Berry Street CEO Sandie de Wolf said the announcement came at a time when the demand for out-of-home-care was increasing.
“The out-of-home-care system is already beyond capacity and unable to meet demand,” she said.
“Some young people, due to their experiences of trauma and violence can feel more contained and safe in residential care, but it’s a bleak situation when many children who should be in foster care or with relatives are placed elsewhere due to shortages.
“The Government’s pledge to significantly invest in this area and provide tailored financial packages will enable more children in residential care to move towards a foster care placement, without compromising on much-need therapeutic support.
“Tailored therapeutic support is of particular importance for Aboriginal children and so we also welcome the Government’s priority to address their specific needs and alarming over-representation in out-of-home care.”
The new funding is available immediately and the Government said children would start benefiting from the new packages in April.