This Foster Care Week we join in the call for carers to be supported with the basics such as birth certificates and Medicare cards, to be unburdened by the financial pressure to pay for health and education expenses that aren’t covered by the care allowance.
Improving parenting skills to better protect little ones
The very real need to better protect newborns and toddlers from abuse and neglect was the driving force behind OzChild’s quest to break the cycle of disadvantage many children and young people face.
This resulted in OzChild being the first Australian agency to be accredited as a SafeCare provider to increase the safety and well-being of newborns and toddlers.
The SafeCare program addresses the need to improve the parenting skills for parents of children aged 0-5 who are at risk of or have been reported for child neglect or physical abuse – assisting with placement prevention and reunification of children from the out-of-home care system.
Extensive randomised studies have shown highly positive outcomes compared to services as usual in increasing parenting skills, reducing likelihood of child maltreatment reports, reducing parental depression and increasing program satisfaction.
Since the program’s inception in Melbourne’s south east, 208 families have been referred and 56 parents have graduated.
Of the 58 families who participated in SafeCare during 2018-19, 28% successfully completed the program while the remaining 72% were still engaged at the end of the 2019 financial year.
In 2020, SafeCare began servicing the north east of Victoria – within the City of Shepparton – one of Victoria’s top 15 most disadvantaged local government areas. Evidence links disadvantage with child maltreatment – it is our hope our entry into this region will improve the health and wellbeing of children within the Goulbourn Valley.
In Victoria, the growth in OOHC is the fastest in the nation – a grim reality for the state which has endured the harshest and longest lockdowns. With more than 45,000 children already in OOHC across Australia, an additional 4,500 children are estimated to enter OOHC because of the pandemic – put simply, we do not have enough carers.
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