New initiative dedicated to finding family placements for children in care

South Australia is launching a new program, Finding Families, aimed at securing better care for children in the child protection system.

South Australia is launching a new program, Finding Families, aimed at securing better care for children in the child protection system. This initiative focuses on moving children and young people from residential care to family environments, where they have better chances for positive life outcomes.

The program consists of a dedicated team of seven senior placement officers. Their goal is to find suitable and sustainable placements with relatives or community members for children currently in residential care. This initiative is particularly targeted towards children under 10 years old, including siblings, and gives special attention to Aboriginal children who are over-represented in the care system.

Finding Families is divided into three teams: one for general placements, another working with Aboriginal children in partnership with KWY Aboriginal Corporation, and a third focusing on children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. These teams will work alongside case managers and residential care staff to identify children who could benefit from the program and then find appropriate family or community care for them.

Supporting carers is a key aspect of the program. This involves providing necessary services and support to ensure the success of these new living arrangements.

Current data shows that while a significant portion of children in the child protection system live in residential care, the majority are in family-based care. The Finding Families program aims to increase this percentage by transitioning more children into family environments.

Initially, Finding Families will run as a 12-month trial to refine its approach and gather insights on the best ways to connect with families and support networks. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated at the end of this period.

In addition to Finding Families, the South Australian Government is investing $13.4 million into Family Group Conferencing as announced in the 2023/2024 State Budget, further demonstrating its commitment to improving child welfare across the state.

Minister for Child Protection Katrine Hildyard said that all children and young people deserve to grow up in an environment where they feel loved, supported and nurtured, and have opportunities to thrive and reach their potential.

“We are determined to try and help ensure that they can through working with young people and families to look at every possible option for safely keeping young people connected to family and living in a family home.”

“Finding Families will focus on doing just that. It is an innovative new program which dedicates staff resources to the sole purpose of identifying family-based placements for children and young people currently living in residential care.”

“This team will be flexible and often on the road, having conversations with people of significance to the child or young person, to form a bigger picture of possible support people for the child.”

“Importantly, there will be teams dedicated to working with Aboriginal and multicultural families, with a strong and clear focus on ensuring cultural factors are considered when finding family-based placements for children.”

“We recognise the importance of Aboriginal children being connected to family, culture, country and community and I am really grateful to KWY for partnering with DCP on this program focused on giving more Aboriginal children and young people an opportunity to connect with and be cared for by their family and community.”

Craig Rigney, Chief Executive Officer, KWY Aboriginal Corporation, said “This initiative and collaboration are to be commended and acknowledging the importance of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in KWY Aboriginal Corporation working alongside DCP throughout the pilot.”

“Being able to work within community for our community and our families is at the core of our daily business.”

“Our specialised workforce and way of engaging with our families is crucial to the success of the initiative.”

“The overall outcome for these specialised teams is to connect our children with community and families leading to a reduction of our children in out of home care across SA.”

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