As we come towards the end of what has been a difficult year, school and kinder stop for holidays and there’s lots to do. There’s the end-of-year busyness as we rush towards the finish line. There’s lots of trying to squeeze in seeing friends, buying presents and preparing food for gatherings. While all this activity can be fun for some – and certainly many people feel like there’s extra to celebrate this year – for others it’s an extremely stressful and anxious time of the year.Continue reading “For some, Christmas isn’t merry and bright”
It’s been a year like never before. One that has —in so many complex ways —demonstrated the constancy of change, as well as how rapid change can so brightly shine a light on existing inequality. A time when we’re confronted to see the reality of what lies before us and work through some of the most challenging times in our lives.
At the same time — amongst the very real upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it will continue to have on children, young people, families, and societies the world over — there are glimmers of hope. We’ve been presented with a time potentially like never before, when all is laid bare, to challenge ourselves and reimagine how we can work together to courageously change lives and shape a new future. This includes a future where — as we believe at Berry Street — children, young people and families are safe, thriving and hopeful.
The number of children and young people coming into out-of-home care in Victoria has increased significantly in the past 5 years. But for those who have experienced significant and repeated trauma, traditional out-of-home care (such as foster and residential care) doesn’t always provide the right specialist support.
It is critical that they get the care they need to recover and ultimately thrive. This is why Berry Street runs a new, proven model of care to reimagine the future for our most vulnerable children and young people: the Teaching Family Model (TFM).
Residential care is not somewhere kids should have to live.
All children deserve a safe home with adults who care about them. Unfortunately, there are lots of kids who end up living in residential care with paid carers rostered to come into the unit and look after them.
However, for one 11-year-old that we’ve been working with, it’s been a positive place for him to live… temporarily.Continue reading “Rupture, repair & building resilience in residential care”
COVID has taken a huge toll on our collective mental health and wellbeing in Victoria.
For a lot of people who have previously suffered trauma or experienced any mental health problems it’s been even harder. For some children in out-of-home care who have experienced developmental trauma as a result of neglect or abuse, it’s been devastating.
Reports show during Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, there’s been a dramatic increase in Victorian children hospitalised due to self-harm and an unprecedented number of calls from Victorians to mental health services.
In this article we’ll explain how using a relationship-building approach can help a child feel safer, more secure and cared for.Continue reading “How to adopt a relationship-building approach”
For children who have experienced significant and repeated trauma, traditional out-of-home care (such as foster and residential care) doesn’t always provide the right support. Berry Street is implementing a new, proven model of care to reimagine the future for our most vulnerable children: the Teaching Family Model (TFM).
TFM is an evidence-based, alternative approach to traditional residential care. It offers an innovative way of caring for children and young people in a family-style setting. TFM practitioners provide children with trauma-informed care, help them learn important interpersonal and living skills, and how to better manage their emotions.
In these uncertain times, it’s understandable that carers may be feeling elevated concerns about how to manage the changing expectations of contact with family members. As a therapeutic service, Take Two offers this guidance in managing the heightened emotions and thoughts of children in the out-of-home care (OOHC) system in these times. We also provide a list of some free video calling apps and programs that might be suitable to use.
Communities around the world are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. And for anyone who has suffered trauma or lives with anxiety normally, it’s an even more difficult time.
For families with children – especially children who are in out-of-home care – spending weeks at home without any school or other group activities will likely be pretty tough at times.
Over the coming weeks, Berry Street’s Take Two service will be providing resources to help families with children who have experienced developmental trauma to support and manage their wellbeing.
Children in out-of-home care often have uniquely strong sibling relationships. This article looks at some of the reasons siblings are separated and ways sibling relationships can be maintained and nurtured while children are in out-of-home care.
By Dr. Trish McCluskey, Berry Street
Almost all of us have one, or more. Sometimes we wish we hadn’t and then we cannot imagine our lives without them. Remember primary school? We fight with them, they fight with us and then we fight for them.
Siblings: our closest genetic relative, our soulmates, rivals for parental affections, the keepers of our unembellished history.
For children in out-of-home care and indeed for all of us, our siblings are usually the longest relationship of our lives. Sometimes these are close and loving relationships and other times they are not. Interestingly even fraught sibling relationships can often be repaired and research shows siblings being identified as major supports as we get older.
Why then do sibling relationships seem to be so underestimated and overlooked for children in foster, kinship or residential care? Continue reading “The longest relationship”
During Foster Care Week, we are focusing on the #SaveFosterCare campaign, a collaboration between Berry Street and the Foster Care Association of Victoria. We are working together in the lead up to the State election to save the foster care system. We are calling on the State Government and the Opposition to increase reimbursement rates for carers.
Foster carers willingly open their hearts and their homes to thousands of Victorian children and young people. They deserve to be supported.
More and more foster carers are leaving the system each year due to the financial stress. The gap between reimbursements to foster households and the actual costs associated with caring for foster children continues to widen, placing significant stress on families.
- 616 foster carers left the Victorian system in the last year, while only 442 new carers could be recruited. It’s the third year in a row the Victorian system has lost more foster carers than it’s gained.
- Foster carers in Victoria still receive the lowest reimbursements in Australia, estimated to be over $5,000 less than it costs to care for a ten year old every year. This financial stress leaves many carers struggling to continue.
- At the same time, reports to Child Protection are increasing and many more vulnerable young children are being placed into Residential Care. Residential Care is an extremely important service but is not the right option for every child, particularly very young children who would benefit more from a home environment.
The financial cost of fostering is deterring as many as 60% of potential foster carers.
Berry Street and FCAV are calling on the State Government to increase reimbursements to carers, and provide them with a simple, fair system.
The time to act is now.
Visit www.savefostercare.org.au to voice your support and help vulnerable children.
Spread the word and help the #SaveFosterCare campaign create change!
Post written by: Skye Doyle, Media & Communications Officer, Berry Street
Presented by Claudia Whitton, Policy and Research Manager and Audra McHugh, Policy Officer at CREATE.
This session provided an overall summary of the CREATE Report Card which collects the experiences of young people living in out-of-home care. The full report is available to download online.
The CREATE Report Card is a survey that is completed online and is open to all young people living in care between the ages of 8 and 17. The survey intends to hear as many young people as possible and present their experiences to those working the sector. Alongside gaining key statistics on care in Australia, the report also gives an understanding of what makes a good care placement.
83% of children overall say that they are “quite” or “very” happy in their current placement. 75% feel as though they are treated exactly the same as other young people.
A big part of having a good placement is concentrating on relationship building. Key to relationship building is in the difference between a child in care being able to speak freely, and feeling as though someone will listen when he or she speaks. Giving the kids a voice, allowing them to take part in and gain a deeper understanding of their care planning leads to those plans being executed more effectively.
What CREATE hopes for in the future is an increase in the engagement of young people in the plans made about their lives, particularly the transitioning from care plans. With stronger involvement in their life decisions, young people in care are able to transition out of care and live more independently.
Child protection is everybody’s business…we all have an opportunity to improve the lives of young people in care
Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.
In 2010 kinship care overtook foster care as the predominant form of out-of-home care in Victoria. Children are usually happier in kinship care, but is it always the best choice? That’s the question Meredith Kiraly asked.
Kinship carers are usually poorer, older and in a poorer state of health than other foster carers. The majority of kinship carers are the grandparents of the children they care for, and often they take on children because they can’t turn down their own family.
But is love enough?
Meredith says that while love is obviously important, there also needs to be safety and wellbeing in care scenarios.
Kinship care assessment is far less rigorous than foster care assessment, often involving little more than a police check. It’s based on the assumption that carers and children already share a close relationship, but this is not always the case. Given that less than 1% of people who engage in acts of child molestation have a criminal record, there are questions over whether this assessment is adequate.
Meredith told the story of an infant girl who was in stable foster care. She was moved to live with her grandparents prior to initial assessment. Further assessment was delayed for months after she was placed with her grandparents, and warning signs – minor cuts and bruises, were ignored. A year later she was admitted to hospital unconscious with a head injury, it was not until this point that she was returned to foster care. In this child’s situation, there was no urgency, she was in stable foster care to begin with, so why was she moved before proper assessment was made?
Meredith indicated that more extensive assessment of kinship carers is needed to ensure that kinship care provides a safe, stable and nurturing environment for children. Do you agree?
Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.