Pleas from grandparent carers for government assistance have been heard, with a review led by a top-level bureaucrat into the extent and quality of supports available to informal kinship carers well under way.
Former state service management director Frank Ogle is consulting widely for the Informal Kinship Care Review that is designed to improve services and develop the first care and liaison program specifically for informal carers.
Kin Raising Kids have long called for greater government support for informal kin carers who save children from the out of home care system, with the group continuing to raise awareness about the inequities that exist between foster, formal kinship and informal kinship care.
Secretary Frank Tyers said the review would hopefully address deficiencies in the state system, and was a move welcomed by its grandparent and other family kin carers.
One deficiency includes foster children receiving government funded medical funds and assistance, and education extras, whilst children in informal care receive none.
Also foster carers and some kinship carers, depending on whether they are “formal” or not, receiving funding allowances for daily expenses and caring of the children in their care.
“We have been pursuing this for a while and supporting Minister [Roger] Jaensch for enabling it to happen,” Mr Tyers said.
“He is obviously trying to get something going to support the need but others are still saying ‘we’ve never done it this way’,” he said.
“There is still skepticism about the review, because how many reviews within Child Safety have happened over the last five years and to what end.”
Mr Tyers said a likely outcome might be a more suitable support service for informal carers, instead of the currently existing Strong Families Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line.
“Many informal carers are fearful of child safety [department] and are not interested in approaching that service to seek advice,” he said.
“They don’t know where they can get legal assistance, don’t know of any avenues for financial support. Many get the kiddies dumped on them and they just don’t know where to turn for help.”
It is understood that in March 2020 Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch provided $200,000 to the department for the review, with $70,000 of this funding received by Foster and Kinship Carer’s Association of Tasmania.
The review will determine how a new support pilot would work and meet the needs of carers.
Mr Ogle is receiving feedback from interested parties who would like to share their experiences of being an informal kinship carer and would like to contribute to the review.
They have until September 30 and can contact Mr Ogle by phone or email [email protected]