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Foster carer cash alarm

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Sat, 07/14/2012 - 08:20
Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 

THE State Government has been urged to take action to prevent foster homes becoming "kiddie farms".

An advocacy group for families with children in state care is concerned a small number of carers might be taking on more kids than they can properly care for, and receive payments of almost $40,000 a year for each child.

It is understood the Department of Health and Human Services has given a number of carers funding to pay for extensions to their houses to cater for extra children.

Others have been given money to buy mini-vans.

Family Inclusion Network spokeswoman Deb Charlton said many foster parents were doing a fantastic job, but there was potential for the system to be abused.

"There are some beautiful carers but unfortunately there are others that treat it as a profession, for its pay cheque," she said.

Latest figures from Child Protection Services show 38 foster carers were looking after four or more children.

This includes six carers each looking after six children, one with eight children and another with nine.

Payments range from $359 a fortnight to $1508 a fortnight.

Ms Charlton said children in care often had complex needs, with many suffering trauma, mental health and developmental problems.

She said these children needed a high-level of care that could be compromised by overburdened foster carers.

Children and Youth Services deputy secretary Des Graham said carers with large numbers of children were often looking after multiple siblings from the same family.

"In addition, some carers have the capacity to care for more than five children and young people, and are happy to do so," he said.

"No carer is asked to look after more children than they feel comfortable with."

The issue was compounded by recruiting difficulties.

Children's Minister Michelle O'Byrne said the approval process for new foster carers was lengthy.

The Family Inclusion Network said Child Protection Services was plagued by a number of concerning issues.

Ms Charlton was critical of the way case workers dealt with parents and families of children taken into care.

She said they often "sit in judgment" of struggling parents, many of whom simply needed better support.

It concerned her more efforts weren't made to keep children with their families.