“More than 200 children come into care in the ACT each year and around 25% of those are re-entering the system,” Ms Hunter said.
“Of those, many will suffer trauma that may affect them well into their adult life. In recent years, increased attention has been given to the link between childhood trauma and brain development.
“We must better support those who are taking on this difficult and important role of providing care for these children.
“The Greens package is about bringing in achievable, concrete improvements for carers. The Greens Care and Protection Package comprises four parts:
· $360,000 over four years to implement Calmer Classrooms within the ACT Education system.
· $800,000 for over four years to implement a new training program for kinship carers.
· $1.6 million over four years to create a new specialist service for young people transitioning out of care.
· A review of the current foster and kinship care payment program.
UPDATE: 04/09/12 15:04: Joy Burch’s office has made this reply:
The Greens policy announcement today appears to be a copy of programs already funded by the ACT Government in recent budgets. For example, they commit $1.556 million over four years to “create a new specialist service to provide support to these vulnerable young people as they transition to independence,” yet the 2011-12 Budget already allocated $2.07 million over four years to establish a Transitions Team within the Community Services Directorate to support young people transitioning from the out-of-home care system until the age of 25. In February 2012 the ACT Government passed laws which entrenched this support in legislation (see attached).
In January 2012 the Transition Team was established, and it has been working with young people as intended to deliver the new outreach service. Specialised youth workers and health workers were recruited to work directly with young people. It is unclear whether the Greens’ promise is to replace this program, or to appropriate additional funding to essentially duplicate this service.
As the 2011 media release attached said: “The new outreach service (the Transitions Team) will work with young people to coordinate appropriate supports that address their changing needs in areas such as accommodation, training, employment, health and living skills. They will also have access to funding for one-off expenses that are not provided by other agencies.”
The Greens also commit $800,000 “to implement a new training program for kinship carers to support them in providing this caring role”. However, the 2009-10 Budget allocated $800,000 over four years to support kinship carers through programs including:
· The establishment of a Kinship Carers Advocacy and Support Service, which commenced in December 2010 and is delivered by community organisation Marymead Child and Family Centre;
· The establishment of Kinship Care and Mediation and Counselling Service, which commenced in November 2010 and is delivered by community organisation Relationships Australia. It provides individual and family counselling as well as mediation services for kinship carers.
UPDATE 04/09/12 16:47: The following has come in from the Greens (CC’d Joy Burch and her media advisor):
Clarification of Greens Care and Protection policy and current Government Programs for the benefit of Minister Joy Burch.
The statement from Minister Burch makes incorrect comparisons between programs and shows that Ms Burch struggles to understand her portfolio. None of the Greens programs replace existing announcements – simply, they are all quite different and additional.
We supported the last budget which saw the establishment of a Kinship Carers Advocacy and Support Service and the establishment of Kinship Care and Mediation and Counselling Service; our announcements are additional to these programs. We are talking about a brand new training program, delivered for free, to frontline kinship carers who are in new situations caring for often traumatised children. This program is similar to the compulsory program that exists for foster carers, but will be tailored for kinship carers and the unique hardships facing grandparents in particular. It will assist in responding to trauma, the difficulties of contact with birth families, and navigation of the complex and disempowering system.
The original Transitions Team as promised by Labor was to have 4 workers, two within Care and Protection Services, and two within a non-government agency. To date the whole team has operated from within Care and Protection Services. We agree that a team within the system is needed. However, we also believe that many young people will want and need advocates who are outside of the system in which they may or may not have had negative experiences with. The Greens policy announced today will provide young people with the ability to access a specialist service outside of the directorate. The Greens initiative adds a community based service to provide more comprehensive assistance.
Again, we are not duplicating any services. These services will be in addition to the services that the ACT Government has funded in the last budget.
The ACT Greens have been supporters of the improvements that have been made to establish a Kinship and Grandparents Support Group and the access to Relationships Australia counselling services. However, information from stakeholders tells us that more needs to be done and we intend to deliver. The Greens new training program will better support Kinship carers as they come into the system.