FKAT Survey

In September 2015, the Foster and Kinship Carer’s Association of Tasmania (FKAT) circulated the ‘Tasmanian Foster and Kinship Carers Survey 2015’. Respondents were evenly distributed between carers who were contracted to the Out of Home Care (OOHC) service provided by Child Protection Services and those who were contracted to external (NGO) Service Organisations. The survey results reveal a strong differentiation between these two groups, with carers contracted to OOHC reporting significantly lower levels of satisfaction with services and support provided. A large proportion of carers reported dissatisfaction with their foster child’s Child Protection case worker and the support and assistance they provided to them and their foster child. There were many carers feeling that there was an antagonistic relationship between themselves and their child’s case worker and that the case worker did not consider the carer’s views or concerns in any decision-making to do with the child. Other survey outcomes were that carers were satisfied with most aspects of training that had been provided to them, half of the survey sample reported that they would support the accreditation and mandatory training of carers, and a majority of carers reported that they would support the establishment of an independent committee to hear and address care concerns. The results in regards to the Out of Home Care support service are concerning. It would appear that carers contracted to Out of Home Care are not receiving adequate support from the Out of Home Care support service. There undoubtedly needs to be major changes in regards to carer support services. In relation to Case Management, carers in the survey frequently reported that they were treated as ‘the enemy’ by Child Protection. The results of the survey also reveal a problem in regards to Child Protection providing adequate and timely information to carer families on issues relating to the child or young person in care. It is clear that Child Protection Services needs to place more focus on the importance of providing information to carers and engaging carers in decision making including the development of a child’s care plan. Carers need to be seen as a key stakeholder in the life of a child or young person in care and treated accordingly. Effective casework in Child Protection cannot be achieved or maintained without the development of strong and supportive relationships between Case Management and carers who are responsible for the day-to-day care provided to the children. The question we face is how can we better meet the needs of these children and those who care for them. A list of recommendations are provided in regards to the Child Protection Case Management and Out of Home Care services stemming from the results of the survey and the feedback from kinship and foster carers, that attempt to resolve this issue.