The role of foster and kinship care agencies is to source safe care arrangements for children and young people in need of out of home care. Before foster care is even considered, agencies will try and identify a suitable kinship caregiver that the child already knows to care for them until reunification with their parents can be achieved.
There are many reasons why children can’t live with their parents, at any given period. Children are removed from their parents when the Department of Child Safety holds great concern for their safety or wellbeing. However, the goal of foster and kinship care is to work towards reunification. Where possible, supports are put in place to help equip parents with the knowledge and skills to care for their children again.
In the meantime, agencies will first try to identify members of the child/ren’s extended family (also known as kin) as viable caregivers. They’ll try to look for family members who the young person may already know and feel comfortable with, which can help reduce the emotional impact on the child. Being cared for by kinship caregivers also allows children to remain connected with their parents and broader family, which is important for their wellbeing and also assists with the reunification process.
For any caregiver to be considered, including kin carers, they’ll need to prove that they’re capable of caring for the young person. Additionally, potential carers will need to prove they can provide a safe home for the child/ren (i.e., have no history of abuse or harm).
Kinship caregivers are generally people that the young person knows. This could include their grandparents, aunts and uncles (including great), cousins, older adult siblings or a close family friend.
For First Nation’s children, the Queensland Government mentions:
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a kinship carer may also be another Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is a member of their community or language group, or compatible with the child’s community or language group.”
Out of home care studies have demonstrated that children who are placed with kin are more likely to experience greater wellbeing and behavioural outcomes.
Most children in care have generally experienced some form of trauma, difficulty or disturbance in their lives. Thus, kinship carers can play an important role in providing them with a sense of normalcy by helping to make them feel safer and more supported when in their care.
In comparison to foster care, kinship care offers greater benefits to children and young people, such as:
Foster care is another form of family-based care for children and young people who aren’t able to live with their family. When care agencies aren’t able to identify kin, they’ll try and match them with a suitable foster carer.
Like foster carers, kinship carers can access ongoing support and training at any stage during their care journey. Kinship carers also receive financial support to cover the costs that are associated with supporting young people. This includes items such as clothing, shoes, food, doctor visits, etc. Click here to learn more about the types of carer allowances.
Other types of ongoing support that kinship carers can receive include:
Our foster and kinship care practitioners are here to support carers and young people every step of the way. Click here to see how we’re empowering carers to ensure that young people have a safe place to call home.