In Victoria during 2018-19, 34 children aged 10-13 years were in detention and all were unsentenced. While the number of children is low, the costs of incarceration to these children, their families, their communities and society are high.
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.
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