Comprehensive support for Indigenous carers and young people

Jenny R. Higgins and Nikki Butler, Australia, 2007

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost five times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care compared with non-Indigenous children (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007). Yet there is a serious shortage of culturally appropriate placements to accommodate them. Even with intensive recruitment efforts, professionals have been unable to recruit sufficient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers to meet the demand.

Project background

Phase 1 – Identifying Strengths and Barriers

In 2005, the National Child Protection Clearinghouse, at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, was commissioned by the Australian Council for Children and Parenting’s (ACCAP) Children at Risk Committee, to conduct:

  • A literature review titled The Recruitment, Retention and Support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foster Carers: A Literature Review.  (Richardson, Bromfield, & Higgins, 2005); and
  • Interviews and focus groups with professionals from government, non-government and Indigenous organisations, as well as carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and Indigenous young people in care titled: Enhancing Out-of-Home Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People. (Higgins, Bromfield, & Richardson, 2005).
Phase 2 – Profiling Promising Programs

In response to the needs identified by the participants, and guided by the examples of promising practice they shared with us, FaCSIA granted funding to AIFS to extend the program to profile promising practices in the sector (this phase of the project is referred to as Phase 2: Profiling Promising Programs). The term ‘promising’ describes programs that have been successful in meeting their goals and objectives, but which have not necessarily been externally evaluated, the majority had not, and the term ‘promising’ applies to the collection of organizations profiled for this project.

In mid-2006, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, in collaboration with SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care), profiled promising programs and services across Australia in order to disseminate the information to other professionals in the sector.

The booklets

The findings from Phase 2 are presented in four individual booklets. Each booklet covers a theme in relation to out-of-home care with profiles of successful programs and services relevant to that theme. Where practicable, profiles are accompanied by practice models relating to that theme.

In Booklet 1, Characteristics of Promising Programs and Services, common characteristics of the programs and services that we profiled are outlined. These cover two areas: organisational practice and service delivery.

In Booklet 2, Assessing, Training and Recruiting Indigenous Carers, specific programs that assess and train Indigenous general and kinship carers are profiled, and a model of how successful organisations have conducted effective carer recruitment, based on the findings from Phase 1, is also included.

In Booklet 3, Comprehensive Support for Indigenous Carers and Young People, programs that offer comprehensive support for carers and young people are profiled in detail.

In Booklet 4, Indigenous Responses to Child Protection Issues, programs that collaborate with child protection services to ensure culturally relevant responses to child protection issues are profiled.

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