At age 27 Tracey Hamilton took on full-time care of her two nephews and niece. At the start she found it extremely difficult to source any ongoing support for the children and herself. She battled for recognition as a kinship carer for over two years, and has now received full recognition. The children have now been in Tracey’s care for over four years with full financial support and support for their trauma difficulties being received.
A policy framework for kinship care in Australia?
The use of kinship care in statutory child protection in Australia is growing year on year; kinship care now provides more statutory placements (formal kinship care) than foster care. Outside of the formal child protection system, many more kinship care arrangements are made informally within families; a large proportion of these children grow up in poverty. There are many gaps in knowledge about kinship care, and in support for children in both informal and formal kinship care. There is little, considered, policy development about kinship care at a national level and thus little recognition of the needs of these children and carers. Children in formal kinship care are yet to be accorded the same rights and support as children in foster care. Indigenous children are highly over-represented in kinship care, yet there is insufficient recognition of the unique nature of indigenous kinship care. Too many Indigenous children are still being cared for by non-Indigenous people.
This Policy Workshop is aimed at raising awareness of the outstanding issues and unmet needs of children in kinship care and their carers and families. It will be conducted as an interactive panel presentation including key experts in particular areas relating to kinship care policy and programs. Each of the 5 Panel members will provide a 3 minute prepared statement outlining their view about key issues and priorities for policy and program development based on their particular practice, policy and/or research knowledge and experience. Following this, the Facilitator will chair a discussion drawing out areas of commonality and difference among views presented by Panel members. There will be at least 30 minutes for delegates to ask questions or comment on potential policy or practice implications of the various ideas presented.
Audience participation will be actively facilitated by Dr Wendy Foote.