The 8th to the 15th of September is Foster and Kinship Care week, a time when we pay homage to the vital role performed by foster and kinship carers in Australia.
In my opinion, foster and kinship carers are crucial to any endeavour to care for and protect children who cannot safely be cared for by their parents. Foster and kinship carers offer these children the best chance to recover and thrive after early adverse experiences.
Put simply, our society simply cannot intervene to protect children and support them to achieve to their potential without foster and kinship carers. We owe them a lot!
I have worked directly with foster and kinship carers since 1995. My work with foster and kinship carers has enriched my career, just as they enrich the lives of children who enter their homes and their care. Borrowing heavily from insights and experiences gained through interactions with foster and kinship carers, I have had the opportunity to develop ideas and programs in support of their endeavours to facilitate better outcomes for children recovering from a tough start to life.
In South Australia, and with the support of my wife, Rebecca, our colleague, Georgina Johnson, and my children, we deliver the Kinship CARE Project, an endeavour to provide statutory kinship carers with information and guidance about how best to support the children in their care, and themselves. The Project arose in response to the Royal Commission into Child Protection Systems, is funded by the Department for Child Protection (DCP), and has been under implementation for 18 months. In that time we have delivered the CARE Therapeutic Framework to 18 kinship carer groups in 12 metropolitan and 6 regional locations. We have reached more than 220 kinship carers and (indirectly, via the training) over 290 kinship children. We have been further supported in this endeavour by the Department for Child Protection’s Kinship Care Program, whose staff have also been trained in The Framework and regularly transport and participate in carer training sessions in support of the kinship carers they work with.
Through our practice, Secure Start®, we continue to provide therapy to children in foster and kinship care and parenting support to their caregivers. We also support the work of the TUSLA (Child and Family Agency) foster care service in Donegal, Ireland, via the implementation of the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care to General and Relative Foster Carers. The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care is my other training program and has been under implementation in Donegal for four years . It is currently being rolled-out by members of my team of 12 local trainers (including 6 TUSLA staff and 6 foster carers), who were trained by me in September 2018. The implementation has been a great success and favourably mentioned in reports of the independent statutory inspection authority for health and social services in Ireland (HIQA) in 2016 and 2018.
Though our various endeavours we hope to maintain our relationship with foster and kinship carers for many years to come. In the meantime, we wish you well in your endeavours and pay recognition to the vital role that you perform.