News - OzChild
Specialist foster carers given a boost with payments increased to $75,000 for caring for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable children

Specialist foster carers given a boost with payments increased to $75,000 for caring for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable children

Leading child welfare agency, OzChild is celebrating the news of increased reimbursements for carers of children and young people in the Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) program in Victoria.

TFCO was launched in Victoria on 1 April 2017 by the Minister for Families and Children. OzChild has since been successfully delivering the program for children under 12.

“After 21 months of service delivery it is not surprising to see some really promising results emerging from this program given its strong evidence base. We are now seeing some very positive outcomes for the children completing the program, keeping children safely in family-based care and out of the residential care system. OzChild teams are showing increased proficiency in the delivery of this evidence-based model,” said OzChild Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths.

In Victoria more than 10,000 children and young people are currently placed in out-of-home care. The reasons are often complex and varied, but the challenge of recruiting foster carers remains.

“Sadly, for some children in out-of-home care the effects of childhood trauma, neglect or abuse make it difficult to manage their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. This can put those children at risk of being excluded from the benefits of a stable family environment, creating a cycle of worsening behaviour and negative outcomes,” says Dr Lisa J. Griffiths.

In addition to a TFCO carer having to deal with complex behaviours, they must be available for daily clinical phone calls, weekly carer meetings, and regular other meetings/appointments. They are also expected to be responsible for all the child or young person’s transport needs and be available if the child or young person needs to be removed from school.

“The Treatment Foster Care Oregon program is crucial in providing the support so desperately needed by some of our most vulnerable children. We are however limited by the number of carers we can recruit restricting the number of children being able to enter treatment,” says Dr Griffiths.

Dr Griffiths adds, “an increase to the care giver reimbursements will not only provide some financial relief for those carers already engaged in the program but will hopefully assist in recruiting more of these specialised foster carers. We welcome this news and applaud the Government’s commitment.”

The increase will see TFCO carers receive a tax-free reimbursement of $75,000 for a 12-month placement. Experience in delivering the program has shown that successful carers are often those who have experience and knowledge in dealing with complex behaviours. The program therefore wishes to attract related professionals to become carers. The average salary for teachers, social workers, police, nurses and psychologists is $71,800 which is then taxed, unlike the tax-free reimbursement offered to TFCO carers.

Whilst this payment is not a replacement salary it should ensure carers are not financially disadvantaged by the cost of providing care to children and young people

Number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home-care system continues to rise

Number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home-care system continues to rise

20 February 2019

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children deserve the same opportunities as all other children yet they are now 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children with the number of Aboriginal children in the out-of-home-care system increasing every year.

We couldn’t agree more with AbSec who are calling for the establishment of an Aboriginal child and family commission to provide leadership and support for the system’s work with Indigenous people, by directing investment to community designed and delivered support services, and improving transparency and accountability.

At OzChild we strive to deliver culturally responsive programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

That's why our indigenous services help to connect Aboriginal children and young people with their community and culture and why we developed our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Read more about this story here.

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths celebrates five years as Chief Executive Officer at OzChild

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths celebrates five years as Chief Executive Officer at OzChild

February marks five years since Dr Lisa J. Griffiths took over the reins at OzChild and our future certainly looks bright!

When Lisa arrived at OzChild five years ago the landscape of programs and services delivered was very different to today.

Throughout her career, Lisa has been instrumental in introducing systemic change involving primary prevention programs, evidence-based interventions and community awareness projects that address long term strategic needs, and enhanced outcomes for the community.

Lisa firmly believes in evidence based programs to deliver tangible outcomes for vulnerable people and is a strong advocate for using what works for Australian children and families facing vulnerabilities.

This belief led the introduction of new evidence based models into the program delivery offered by OzChild. Now the largest provider of evidence based programs in Child Protection, Family Violence and Youth Justice in Australia, OzChild is leading the sector achieving greater outcomes by doing what works!

Since Lisa joined OzChild in February 2014, the organisation has undergone a significant transformation improving its financial position, introducing evidence based programs and expanding its operations interstate.

“OzChild has seen growth of more than 130%, program and service delivery has increased significantly and into new states and territories. Under Lisa’s leadership support from state and federal government has increased as belief and understanding of the OzChild way is widely recognised," says Helen Maxwell-Wright Board President.

Strengthening our impact with evidence based programs for children, young people and families is changing lives. This carefully considered strategic direction supported by the Board and implemented by Lisa and the Executive Leadership Team will make an enormous difference to many and leave a lasting legacy.

OzChild’s success over the past five years is a true testament to her dedication and unfathomable passion for changing the lives of children and young people. Lisa’s humble dedication to her role is remarkable.

When Lisa was asked to reflect on the last five years she said:

Lisa’s energy and enthusiasm are felt right across the organisation and shared by everyone. Her dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of children and young people is inspiring.

National Executive Director of Services, Michelle Van Doorn and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Powell have shared Lisa’s journey at OzChild from the start.

Michelle describes Lisa’s arrival as a “breath of fresh air.”

“Lisa is truly an inspirational leader - she is strongly values driven, authentic, collaborative, innovative and totally committed to making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people. In Lisa's five years at OzChild she has not only lead the transformation of the organisation but has strongly influenced the broader service system to be evidence based in its approaches with children and families.”

Chief Operating Officer Mark Powell was keen to add “I enjoy Lisa's challenging approach to the problems our sector addresses, thinking outside current practice and challenging the status quo.”

Mark believes Lisa’s greatest achievement so far has been leading our entry into NSW; “a sector with old established organisations who have strong ties to government. OzChild broke into that market off the back of Lisa's determination to the vision she set for OzChild.”

As a leader, Lisa has ensured the progression of the professional careers of those around her. Investing in the development of her staff is important to Lisa as she firmly believes in us all setting each other up for success.

Jarrod Edwards, Chief Transformation Officer at OzChild adds, "the ability for OzChild, as a team, to support vulnerable children, young people and families requires the contribution of many supported by leadership that inspires each of us. Lisa's ability to influence Ministers, navigate bureaucracy, create a sense of belonging for staff and volunteers alike, as well as convince the Executive Leadership Team to dress up and dance like 70's pop stars, is the leadership that binds all of our contributions together."

Lisa has a mantra that to achieve better outcomes for the children and families we serve, “a collaborative approach must be taken”.

Her believe in the spirit of collaboration is admirable - within the sector and beyond. We are all in this together and to ensure successful outcomes for children, young people and families it is in their best interest we share what we know.

Dea Delaney-Thiele, OzChild’s National Executive Director of Aboriginal Partnerships didn’t know where to start when asked to share her thoughts on Lisa.

“Lisa is an extremely caring, compassionate and exceptionally professional leader who 'works' with her staff in many ways that is underpinned by an evidence based agenda; which truly matches with me as a person!

“Lisa truly supports Aboriginal Peoples' inherent right of self-determination.... she allows me the latitude I need to achieve the best I can with my national Aboriginal partnership role. A role that has many challenges and tasks that we work towards, to help build awareness of our true history and to build a culturally competent workforce. It is an exciting role... from little things, big things will grow, and I have Lisa to thank for that!

“It is such a privilege working with Lisa...what an awe-inspiring leader she is. I am sure she will leave a legacy on so many levels, in particular for our most vulnerable children, that will be talked about for many generations to come.”

Behind the scenes Lisa works strategically to strengthen OzChild relationships sitting on ministerial advisory councils in various states to ensure OzChild is placed at the forefront of the community sector.

Lisa is also a beloved wife, mother to five children and a former double Commonwealth games medalist in Judo. But, it doesn’t stop there! Lisa has recently been awarded a Doctorate in Business Leadership for her thesis on an Evidence Based Ethical Leadership Model for the Community Services Sector.

Our President, Helen Maxwell-Wright says ”Lisa is an inspirational leader with incredible foresight and ground-breaking ideas, contagious energy, enviable charisma and creativity. She is an invaluable asset to OzChild and we wholeheartedly congratulate her on this milestone and thank her greatly for her enthusiasm and fearless leadership.

“The future of OzChild certainly shines bright with Lisa J. Griffiths at the helm of the ship.”

New reforms will help strengthen NSW families

New reforms will help strengthen NSW families

25 October 2018

Leading child welfare provider OzChild welcomes the NSW Government’s tabling of a landmark child protection bill into parliament this week.

The Amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act and the Adoption Act will improve prevention services to keep children safely at home with their families and restore family connections when it is possible to do so.

OzChild’s Chief Executive Officer Lisa Griffiths said the organisation supported changes to be introduced by the Government that would secure better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families.

“We applaud the NSW Government’s significant investment of programs that are proven to work in strengthening families and help prevent children and young people entering the Out-of-Home Care system,” Ms Griffiths said.

“The evidence based and evidence informed programs we deliver in NSW are internationally proven and I am proud to say show significant improvements for the children, young people and families we work with.”

As part of the Government’s reforms, there will be greater engagement with Aboriginal families and communities to mitigate child protection risks before children are placed in care.

Associate Professor Dea Delaney-Thiele, OzChild’s National Executive Director of Aboriginal Partnerships, welcomed the reforms.

“This is a positive move to help ensure Aboriginal children and young people are supported in culturally safe environments,” Associate Professor Delaney-Thiele said.

“It will give the extended family the opportunity to be involved in decisions about the care of their children and reduce the number of Aboriginal children and young people being removed into Out-of-Home Care.”

OzChild provided a comprehensive submission to the public consultation process following the release of the discussion paper, Shaping A Better Child Protection System in 2017.

OzChild currently provides early intervention programs Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare and Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect in Western Sydney and will begin the delivery of Treatment Foster Care Oregon and Functional Family Therapy before the end of this year.

Firefighter by day, volunteer by night

Firefighter by day, volunteer by night

22 October 2018

Working as a mentor has helped one of OzChild’s volunteers better relate to the children and young people he deals with in the course of his work.

As a shift worker, Max McQueen often felt he should be doing something more productive during his downtime, so he decided to investigate volunteering.

“As a firefighter I occasionally attend emergencies with children involved, so I thought volunteering with children would help me learn how to better relate to them and make them feel comforted during what can sometimes be traumatic experiences for them,” Max said.

“I often had time off during the week when my friends and family were busy, so I thought becoming a volunteer would be a really beneficial way to spend some of my spare time.”

Max, who has been volunteering with OzChild’s Positive Horizions program for just over 12 months, typically mentors his young charge between 3 – 5 hours each week depending on the activities they plan.

“I usually pick him up from school one day a week and we’ll do an activity that we’ve planned together. Anything from a visit to the pool, to kicking the footy to cooking dinner for his family,” Max said.

“We’ve had a heap of fun experiences over the last year, but I think my favourite thing has been watching his confidence grow.

“When I first took him to the park he was hesitant about even climbing to the top of the play equipment but just recently he told me that he went on the flying fox and giant swing at the school camp and wasn’t even scared. I felt intensely proud of him.”

Max had volunteered previously with other organisations such as St John’s Ambulance and Meals on Wheels but is really enjoying his role as a mentor in the Positive Horizons program.

“Honestly it has been such a rewarding experience; to know that by offering a child some consistency in their life and listening to them, you can really foster a sense of support that gives them courage to face the challenges that childhood presents,” Max said.

“I’ve also learnt a lot about how best to relate to children, and that in turn has given me the confidence to be able to support them appropriately when we attend emergencies at work.”

Volunteers are crucial to the work that OzChild does with children and families and Max is encouraging other residents living in the Shire of Cardinia to consider volunteering.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer with OzChild’s Positive Horizons call Claire on 8796 000 or cmasterson@ozchild.org.au.

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