Young adults are being forced to become parents to their siblings reveals a PeakCare and IFYS report being released in Brisbane today by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell. We’re Just Kids as Well reveals increasing poverty as young adult carers face financial stress and are pressured to become relative carers to reduce the costs of placing children into State care.
“No one actually knows how many children are living with relatives,” says Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director of PeakCare. “There is no system to count them. These children and their carers are invisible.
“We conservatively estimate 12,000 Queensland children live with brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents, aunties and uncles. That’s around three times the number of children 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 little support from either Commonwealth or State Governments. They are doing it alone and doing it tough. Were it not for relatives stepping in to care for these children most would end up in the care of the State.
“Relative carers say they are falling between the cracks. Were they to give up, the cost of their care would inevitably be borne by the State,” says Lindsay.
We’re Just Kids as Well shows the financial stress on young kinship carers and the sacrifices they are making by putting studies and employment on hold. Many young carers began caring in their early twenties and many are caring for multiple children.
“Young carers show strong commitment to the children in their care, but are struggling with changed roles, challenging family dynamics and parenting arrangements,” says Joanne Roff, Manager of Foster and Kinship Care with Integrated Family and Youth Services.
“Most are caring for children with experiences of childhood trauma and developmental, educational and behavioural issues. Some young carers have support from family, friends and community services but others have very limited support.
“They usually don’t have the financial and other supports available to parents, adoptive parents, foster carers and grandparent carers. Young carers are appealing for greater awareness of their existence and greater awareness of their exclusion from services,” says Jo.
We’re Just Kids as Well was written and researched by Meredith Kiraly, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne with financial support from the Sidney Myer Fund.
PeakCare Queensland is a peak body for child protection, out of home care and related services. Integrated Family and Youth Services delivers specialised support and intervention programs for children, young people and families.