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A Week to say thank you to those who care: Foster and Kinship Carer Week is in the spotlight.

by PeakCare Qld on 28th April 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> April -> A Week to say thank you to those who care: Foster and Kinship Carer Week is in the spotlight.

The Queensland child protection system relies on the generosity and capacity of countless foster and kinship carers who give tirelessly of themselves and their families in supporting and caring for children and young people in the care system. For decades foster and kinship carers have been the backbone of child protection in Queensland. Currently 5100 carer families in Queensland support over 8000 children and young people in care.

This week is Foster and Kinship Carer Week (FKCW). FKCW runs from 25 to 30 April 2016. Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the dedication and commitment of Queensland's foster and kinship carers who provide children and young people with a safe, loving and stable home.” It is a partnership between the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS) and Foster Care Queensland (FCQ). DCCSDS and FCQ together with local agencies have planned celebratory activities for foster and kinship carers across the state. For example in Brisbane: Inala Community House, Mercy Community Services, Key Assets, Indigenous Family and Child Support Service, Life Without Barriers, Kyabra, UnitingCare Community and the DCCSDS’s Regional Foster and Kinship Care team joined together for morning tea with their foster and kinship carers.

FKCW is an opportunity to take stock, note the vital contribution of foster and kinship carers and to say ‘thank you’ to each and every foster and kinship carer who contributes to the wellbeing of children and young people in Queensland. In acknowledging the important contribution of foster and kinship carers it is also important to respect that so many of these carers have been in the system for substantial periods of time and they continually bend and flex depending on what is required of them.

Given the Carmody Report Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection (June 2013), outlined the importance of family relationships and connections for children and young people as echoed by a plethora of research and practice wisdom concluding the same, those working with and supporting children and young people are ever aware that maintaining safe and connected relationships with families, kin and culture is of paramount importance. Foster and kinship carers play a vital role in this dynamic. The willingness of foster and kinship carers to work with families of the children and young people in their care to enhance relationships and ensure they provide an additional support opportunity is heartening. It is yet another generous offering they provide to those in their care that transcends beyond the ‘care experience’ into the future lives and wellbeing of all those they care for, interact with and provide a home. “These foster and kinship carers are critical partners in advancing Queensland’s child protection and family support reforms, Supporting Families Changing Futures” said Minister Fentiman.

Kyabra’s Intake and Assessment team Co-ordinator, Karen Vanderburg, has observed a shift in the past few years of foster carers wanting to work with families and be part of the larger team that supports children, young people and the whole family unit: “They’re on the front line day in and day out. They are always there doing the hard work they do and it is every day for them. There is a real community of care now and foster and kinship carers are an essential part of that community.”

Foster and kinship carers aren’t just the backbone of the care system, they are often the innovators. Given their close proximity to the children and young people they know so well, they are able to meet their holistic needs whilst thinking outside of the square. In a recent PeakCare roundtable meeting many spoke of the important role foster and kinship carers play in the child protection system, particularly given that they are readily available at times when other organisations are not. They also spoke of their preparedness to provide a conduit to heal relationships between children, young people and their family members and kin and the importance of all in the system embracing this offering. This willingness fosters positive relationships and connections essential for children and young people as they grow and transition from the care system with lasting relationships and connections that enhance their lives and wellbeing.

The week of celebrating carers ends with the Queensland Foster and Kinship Care Conference 2016 to be held from 29th April to 1st of May at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. FCQ has planned engaging speakers and a program for all carers and workers dedicated to the protection and wellbeing of children and young people.

For further information on FKCW visit www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety

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