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In 2013–14 there were over 143,000 children receiving child protection services (investigation, care and protection order and/or in out-of-home care) across Australia.
- Just over 43,000 children were in out-of-home care at 30 June 2014
- 41% of those in out-of-home care were in foster care, 48.5% were living with relatives/kin and more than 5.5% were in residential care
- 35% of children in out-of-home care were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
What is out-of-home care?
The term ‘out-of-home care’ refers to children and young people who are placed in statutory care because they are in need of care and protection that is necessary for their safety, welfare and wellbeing. Often referred to as foster care, children and young people in care have received a court order about who takes care of them, and who can make decisions for and about them.
Children in out-of-home care are placed with relatives, kin, foster parents, adoptive parents, in residential care or independent living arrangements. Children and young people stay in care until they can safely return home or until they turn 18 years.
Where do we fit in the out-of-home care sector?
CREATE aims to influence change to make a better life for children and young people in care.
The demand for out-of-home care (OOHC) is ever increasing with the number of children and young people in care doubling in the last decade and increasing by about 10 percent a year in most jurisdictions. At 30 June 2014, there were 43,009 children in out-of-home care across Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people comprise over 30 percent of this number and are over-represented in terms of their proportion of the Australian population.
Statutory child protection is the responsibility of state and territory governments. Government departments responsible for child protection provide assistance to vulnerable children who are suspected of being abused, neglected or harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection. Across Australia, more and more out-of-home care services are delivered by government-funded community organisations.
CREATE believes children and young people in out-of-home care have the best insight into how the system works and their experiences within the care system provide the best source of information for improving the system.
CREATE consults with children and young people to campaign with governments and service providers to address their concerns, such as a participation in decision-making and transitioning from care. Through our Young Consultant training and youth advisory structure, children and young people are assisted to advocate on their own behalf and train workers and carers about the on-going needs of children and young people in care.
Why are we needed?
Children and young people in out-of-home care have the right to be safe from harm, they need to have their care and developmental needs met and to be provided with the same life opportunities as other children and young people. They need safe, stable and supportive living environments whilst work is conducted by child protection agencies to support their return home. Young people nearing adulthood often require support to stay engaged in education and employment, connect with family and community and prepare for the transition to independent living.
CREATE supports children and young people in out-of-home care by listening to what they have to say and by helping them tell governments and other organisations about their experiences in care to help improve the child protection system.
(Statistics from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Child protection Australia: 2013-14. Canberra: AIHW)