Do you know how many Queensland children are currently being cared for by relatives? We’re not talking about children in the care of the State who are living with approved kinship carers. We’re talking about children who are living with relatives as a result of private arrangements agreed to by their parents.
It is a matter of great concern that no-one actually knows the answer – because there is no system in place to count them. These children and their carers are invisible. Of even greater concern is that we can conservatively estimate that there are now over 12,000 Queensland children living in these arrangements – that’s around three times the number of children in care who are currently living with approved kinship carers and almost 2,000 more children than the total number of children in State care. Of greatest concern is that these relatives receive very little support from either the Commonwealth or State Government. They are often doing it alone and doing it tough.
We can also assume that were it not for the grandparents, aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters, and cousins stepping in to care for these children when their parents were unable to, most would have ended up in the care of the State, and many still may if these relatives remain invisible and continue to receive little recognition or support.
PeakCare fully appreciates that from the perspective of all State Governments (not only Queensland’s) much of the responsibility for the support – especially financial support – that should be given to relative carers lies with the Commonwealth Government. This may be so, but from the perspective of the relative carers, they are ‘falling between the cracks’ and were they to give up on their struggle to adequately care for these children, the responsibility and cost of their care would inevitably be borne by the State.
The complexity of working out better solutions is enormous. This makes it all the more important that relative carers and your organisations are well represented at the Kinship Care Forum II being held on Wednesday, 26th February at Brisbane International Virginia at Boondall. Look for more details about how to register for this forum elsewhere in this week’s edition of eNews.
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