Out-of-home care is a special term used to talk about all different types of care arrangements when you can’t live with your parents. It can mean foster care, kinship care, residential care or supported living arrangements.
It’s important to remember that coming into care is not your fault. You have the right to live in a place where you are safe, have food, clothes, and people looking after you.
There are many reasons why children and young people come into care. Sometimes families have a hard time and need help from other adults to care for their children, or it may not be safe to live at home at the moment.
You can always ask your caseworker to explain the reasons why you cannot live at home.
If you feel like you aren’t being listened to, and want help to have your say, you can find more information here.
All children and young people in care have rights which must be respected. Every State and Territory has a Charter of Rights which explains your right to things like going to school, and visiting the doctor or dentist. It says that other people must consider your privacy, and that you are allowed to have a say in the decisions about your life, like where you live or seeing your brothers and sisters.
A carer is someone who chooses to look after kids because they care about what happens to them. A carer can be someone in your family, like a grandparent, aunt or family friend. Or it can be someone who offers to care for you when you can’t live at home.
A caseworker is a professional helper who works for either with the government or an agency, and is responsible for you and seeing that your needs are being met. It is their job to support children and young people and make sure that they are being cared for properly while they are in care.
There were 45,000 children and young people living in out-of-home care across Australia between June 2018 to 2019. However, this number changes every year as children and young people come in and out of the care system.
If something is bothering you or if you feel unhappy or unsafe, you can always speak up. You can talk about your concerns with someone you trust, like your carer or caseworker. You can also contact an independent advocate like the Children’s Commissioner or Guardian if you feel that your complaint has not been resolved.
Transitioning from care refers to the journey a young person goes through when they leave out-of-home care to become independent. Your caseworker should start to talk to you about transitioning from care after you turn 15. This involves planning what you would like to do in your future life outside of care, and helping you prepare for adulthood by letting you know where you are going to live, who to go to if you need help, and building independent living skills.
Advocacy is a special word used to describe any actions that help support a special cause, a person, or a group of people to have their voices heard and influence change. At CREATE, we represent the voices of children and young people in out-of-home care, and advocacy is an important piece of our mission. We use many different ways to advocate for a better care system so that all children and young people with a care experience can live happy lives and reach their full potential.
CREATE Foundation is the national peak body representing the voices of children and young people in out-of-home care, including foster, kinship and residential care. We provide programs and services across Australia that connect and empower children and young people with a care experience. As a systemic advocate, we aim to make a better life for children and young people in the care system, and ensure better outcomes as they transition to independence.
Every young person’s care experience is unique. If you are a young person and would like to meet others with a care experience, participate in CREATE events or programs, or help make the care system better by getting involved, reach out to your nearest CREATE team. They would love to hear from you!
If you are a member of the general public, you can help volunteer at a CREATE event, support CREATE’s work by becoming a CREATE Mate, writing a letter to your local politician or providing a donation.