Queensland Kinship Care Forum II

The second Queensland Kinship Care Forum was held on the 26th of February 2020 and was co-hosted by PeakCare Queensland, the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) and CREATE Foundation, in association with Integrated Family and Youth Services (IFYS).  This forum followed on from the first forum in September 2019, where key issues for kinship carers in Queensland, and opportunities for advocacy, were identified.  Click here to view a summary.

At the recent forum, as well as hearing from local and visiting guest presenters, Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner, formally launched the research report ‘We’re just kids as well’: towards recognition and support for young kinship carers by Dr Meredith Kiraly from the University of Melbourne.

A highlight of the forum was hearing the voices of kinship carers and particularly the panel discussion with young kinship carers who had been involved in Dr Kiraly’s research.  See the forum program for full details of the presentations. Also, please see below presentations/notes from presenters:

We extend much appreciation for the generosity of IFYS who covered the travel expenses for the local and interstate kinship carers and also to the interstate presenters who covered their own travel costs which assisted greatly.

Thank you to all the presenters and panel members and to all the kinship carers who attended and shared some of your experiences.

Forum evaluation results

Feedback surveys were a two page (nine questions) hard copy questionnaire which was completed by 61 forum participants on the day of the forum.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – please see the survey findings report.

Media coverage

The launch of the report and the issues highlighted around the lack of support and recognition for family members who step up to care for relative children received widespread media coverage.  Please see the media report for details.

Outcomes

Please see below links to:

Summary of key ideas and outcomes from the forum:

Towards recognition and support or all family care / kinship care families

AIMS:

  • to improve life circumstances of children in informal and formal (statutory) kinship care and their carers;
  • to ensure children’s rights are upheld; and
  • to reduce the need for children in kinship care to enter the child protection system solely to access services

What would make a difference for kinship carers:

  • Access to information
  • Help to navigate the system
  • Understanding trauma
  • Financial and practical support
  • Educational supports
  • Supports for family contact
  • Connections to others (peer support)
  • Legal advice
  • Having a voice

Agreed Action:

  • Establish a Queensland Family Care / Kinship Care Working Group to coordinate strategy
  • Strategic partnership with SNAICC, QATSICPP and/or other community controlled representation to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

Ideas for working party consideration:

  • National Family Care / Kinship Care peak body
  • National Family Care / Kinship Care week
  • Stand-alone framework for kinship care, not a subset of foster care
  • Inclusion of kinship carers in the Commonwealth Carer Recognition Act 2010
  • Equity of support from the Commonwealth for all kinship carers (not just grandparents) – particularly re Grandparent Advisor program and Centrelink benefits and allowances – eg rename Grandparent Adviser program to be more inclusive, provide exemption for carers from mutual obligations, family tax benefit to follow the child not the carer, enable all carers to access child care benefit, raise income threshold for child care benefit
  • Allowance like foster care allowance for informal carers eg NZ model
  • Establish mechanism nationally recognised for gaining proof of status/authority eg statutory declaration to enable carers to enrol a child in school, apply for medicare card etc
  • Census modification to enable accurate data collection
  • National program of specific supports for children in informal family care / kinship care – casework, family mediation, support for family contact, counselling, other brokerage funds to meet needs
  • Pilot a support service – build on IFYS work
  • Ideas for advocacy opportunities:
    • National and State/Territory Children’s Commissioners and Guardians
    • Parliamentary Friends of Grandparent Carers, Co-chaired by Senators Rachel Siewert, Dean Smith and Carol Brown
    • Ministers across State/Territory and Federal jurisdictions
    • Local MPs – government and opposition
    • Influence new National Child and Family Wellbeing Plan 2021 (COAG)
    • Reference relevant recommendations from Qld Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (2013), Senate Inquiries re Grandparent Care (2014) and Out of home care (2015), Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2017), Qld Family and Child Commission Review of Foster Care System report (2017) – see information sheet with summary of recommendations relevant to kinship care

Call for nominations to join the Queensland Family Care / Kinship Care Working Group

PeakCare invites colleagues to nominate for the working group so we can develop a coordinated strategy for the best way forward in progressing the interests of family carers / kinship carers and the children they care for.

Please contact Stephanie Fielder at sfielder@peakcare.org.au with your name, position, organisation and contact details.  Ensure your organisation has agreed to your participation in the working group.

Other information

For a copy of the research report ‘We’re just kids as well’: towards recognition and support for young kinship carers by Dr Meredith Kiraly, see this link to the report on the University of Melbourne webpage or contact Meredith Kiraly at mkiraly@unimelb.edu.au

For copies of the recently published Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) journal resources developing practice, which has two issues dedicated to Kinship Care, download the information and order form.