Adopt Change implores NSW Treasury to better provide for children in government care as part of systemic reform of sector, commending Minister Washington’s steps towards change. 

National not-for-profit organisation Adopt Change welcomes NSW Minister for Families and Communities the Hon. Kate Washington MP’s movements towards system reform and is calling upon NSW Treasury to better provide for children currently in the out-of-home care system by allocating adequate funding to assist with ensuring they’re in a home with carer families who are supported.  

With 15,895 children in the NSW government care system, Adopt Change is calling for child safety and the issue of children being properly cared for to be placed front and centre of budgetary considerations. Some of these children, as young as two years-old, are not in home based care, instead are being housed in motels and residential group settings, being looked after by workers on shift. Part of the call for better funding, includes making sure carer families – whether they be kin, foster carers, guardians or adoptive parents – have access to appropriate supports to sustain their role in the current economic climate and to enable access of therapeutic care for children heal from their trauma. 

Non-home-based-care and instability exacerbates the trauma experienced by children and young people who are already vulnerable and displaced, causing them to fall behind educationally and delaying access to specialist support services, in particular trauma informed care. Adopt Change works nationally toward a home and healing for every child that is safe, nurturing and stable, and in NSW operates the government-funded My Forever Family NSW (MFF) program to support, recruit, train and advocate for foster and kinship carers, guardians, and adoptive parents from out-of-home care across the state. Through the MFF program, as well as coordinating delivery of the NSW Carer Survey, the organisation has strong insight on carers needs and concerns. 

With carers in short supply and under crushing economic pressures, the number of children entering care and not being raised in a home is rising. The commitment to providing therapeutic care and permanency for healing needs urgent attention, and Adopt Change believes the provision of adequate support for children in the NSW care system should be front and centre when it comes to budgetary considerations. Supporting carers to minimise placement breakdown and increase stability for kids goes a long way to creating better outcomes for care leavers. 

Adopt Change Chief Executive Officer Renée Carter explains,  

The shortage of carer families in NSW has increased the pressure on existing carers. This can lead to inappropriate institutional placements, damaging outcomes for children and carers and increased carer exits. This also reduces the portion of carers willing to recommend caring to others – proven to be the most effective recruitment strategy – and undermine the retention of both carers and case workers to support these children and young people. The provision of adequate support for carers is critical to addressing this crisis.” 

To understand the real needs and costs associated with being a carer in today’s society and economy, Adopt Change has called for a review and analysis of supports currently offered to carers of children in out-of-home care and to subsequently make provisions within the NSW budget accordingly. 

Commending the Minister for putting system reform on the agenda, Ms Carter implores NSW Treasury to allocate enough funding to support real and immediate change, 

We applaud Minister Washington’s acknowledgement of the troubles with the out-of-home care system in NSW and welcome long overdue change. Kids shouldn’t be languishing in care, so it’s important to see system reform is on the agenda. It’s heartening to see that change is on the horizon.” 

Ms Carter also says it’s important to integrate all voices and perspectives across the sector. acknowledging there is a wealth of knowledge to draw from carers, care leavers, government, caseworkers and more, to make the system better for those it serves to support – vulnerable children.    

“The last few challenging years have really brought home to all of us just how important carer families are, not only for children in out-of-home care but for the entire NSW community. If there was ever any doubt, it is now abundantly clear that we can’t take carers, their support needs or their invaluable contribution for granted. Becoming a carer means opening your homes and lives to provide the everyday experiences of childhood in a safe and stable environment, and this needs to be adequately supported,” concludes Ms Carter. 

Adopt Change has lodged a NSW Pre-Budget Submission outlining the need to better support children in care, carers and care-leavers.