FCAV Statement in response to CCYP ‘In Our Own Words Inquiry’

Statement from the Foster Care Association of Victoria in response to the ‘In Our Own Words Inquiry’ tabled on 27 November 2019 by the Commission for Children and Young People through the voices of young people.


The FCAV commends the work of the Commission for Children and Young People and welcomes the platform to hear the voices of young people in care. The Commission heard from 204 children and young people, some workers and many foster and kinship carers, and found that that a stretched out-of-home care system is failing carers and the children and young people in their care. The inquiry found that the majority of the children and young people in foster care, when they were placed with a carer who listened and showed they cared, felt happy, safe and loved but in stark contrast, too many in residential care were left feeling unsafe.


The inquiry shows that the systemic problem of carer recruitment and retention is unresolved with an alarming decline in the number of carers. In 2017–2018, there were 998 foster carers in Victoria. During this time, 606 foster carers withdrew from foster care programs while only 375 foster carers commenced.


The inquiry also shows that funding of the child protection system has not kept pace with demand. While notifications, investigations and substantiations have tripled in the last 10 years there has only been a 73 per cent increase in funding.


The Commission report says the need to transform the out-of-home care system remains despite the work and investment that has occurred in the Roadmap for Reform. A range of critical systemic problems remain unresolved including that:

  • the number of children entering care is rising faster than the Victorian population,
  • placement instability is ongoing,
  • there is a lack of therapeutic placements,
  • residential care continues to be unsafe,
  • foster carers are leaving the system at a faster pace than new carers can be recruited,
  • high child protection staff turnover.


The FCAV welcomes finding 36 that the Carer KaFÉ statewide kinship and foster carer training is an accessible provider of useful and practical learning for carers across Victoria, however highlights the finding that lack of financial and placement supports was leaving carers unsupported to meet the complex challenges of providing care.

The inquiry findings support the development of the Carer Strategy which was strongly advocated by the FCAV in its scoping report to the Minister in December 2018. www.fcav.org.au/images/FCAV_Carer_Strategy_Discussion_Paper2018.pdf.


“Appropriate support for current foster carers is well accepted as the most effective retention strategy. This highlights the need for all carers to be properly supported and provided with sufficient funding, real supports and access to information to understand and meet the needs of the children and young people in their care.” said Samantha Hauge, CEO. 


The findings within the Inquiry report are consistent with the FCAV’s advocacy to properly resource improved carer support in the following areas as a matter of urgency:

  • Knowledge and information about the child or young person in their care, including prior to or at the beginning of the placement
  • Timely access to funds available either through Child Protection or funded agencies to support the placement
  • Identity documents essential to the care of the child or young person, such as passport, birth certificate and Medicare details.
  • Lack of support and respect for their role is identified as the reason a carer will withdraw from a placement and from providing foster care at all.
  • Respite care when required. The department should develop guidelines to enable the delivery of respite by non-traditional providers when it is in the best interests of the child


These principles are embedded in the new Victorian Government Carer Strategy – “Strong carers, Stronger children.” The FCAV calls on the Victorian Government and Minister for Child Protection, Luke Donnellan to ensure that the strategy actions are fully funded to improve the conditions under which homebased carers provide for the consistency, safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in their homes.


Read the full Report here: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/assets/Publications-inquiries/CCYP-In-Our-Own-Words.pdf