The Department of Communities (Communities) values family and foster carers and the fundamental role they play in the care of children – we are partners in care and we need to work together.
During National Child Protection Week 2019, Hon Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Child Protection announced that Communities would partner with the Foster Care Association of Western Australia (FCAWA) to better understand the lived experience of carers and the support they need. This led to the Foster Care Refresh project which was developed to improve outcomes for children in care by working with foster, family and significant other carers and the sector to identify how we can work better together. The Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Child and Family Alliance WA were also partners in the project.
The three consultation phases of the project have been completed. The three phases of the Project canvassed the views of Communities and community service organisation (CSO) carers through face-to-face consultations and online feedback opportunities. It also included engagement with designated Communities staff, who provided their feedback on the issues and ideas raised by the carers.
Phase 1 engaged with Communities family and foster carers and phase 2 sought feedback from CSO carers.
A roundtable meeting was chaired by the Commissioner for Children and Young People on 14 February 2020. Invited participants included executive staff of Department of Communities, academics with expertise in foster care planning, representatives of community service organisations, representatives of the Aboriginal community of WA, and family and foster carers. The Roundtable participants considered and discussed the findings from Phase 1 consultations, made observations and recommendations to feed into the final report.
Phase 3 provided an additional opportunity for Communities’ carers and designated Communities staff to provide feedback.
Thank you again to all Communities and CSO carers who participated in the consultation feedback and provided their insights and ideas, which has broadly focussed on:
- Building effective partnerships
- Strengthening carer capability and confidence
- Responsive and agile system.
Throughout this three stage consultation process carers identified what is working well, areas for improvement and suggestions for change. Carers offered suggestions to improve the foster care experience, including:
- better communication
- consistency in worker/child/carer case management
- a more responsive and inclusive system with regard to planning and decision making, including cultural planning
- greater access and in-home support for children with complex needs
- system reform to access better health and educational services.
The Foster Care Refresh Project Report (Report) provides a summary of the feedback provided by carers and staff across the three phases of consultation. The information has been grouped to highlight what carers reported is working well, areas of concern and suggested measures to address the areas of concern. A snapshot of specific feedback received from some carers can be viewed in the companion resource to the Report.
Recommendations and actions were developed in response to the information received from carers, staff and subject matter experts. A detailed implementation plan and specific workplans will be developed to respond to the recommendations and actions outlined in the Report. Implementing the recommendations and actions in the Report will provide further opportunities for carers, Communities and the sector to support the best possible outcomes for children in care.