Changes provide forever homes for vulnerable Queensland kids
Published Sunday, 23 July, 2017 at 07:34 AM
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Queensland’s most vulnerable children will have a more certain and stable future under proposed changes to the Child Protection Act 1999.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said as part of the Queensland Government’s proposed changes, new provisions will require that finding a permanent and stable home forms part of the case plan for each child coming into care and a new “permanency care order” will be created.
“These changes are being made to provide a safe, secure and certain future for some of the state’s most vulnerable children,” Ms Fentiman said.
Ms Fentiman said under the proposed changes, the new permanent care order will provide children in long-term out-of-home care with an option for a more stable and secure family arrangement.
This means a child will remain with their carer family until they are 18.
“These orders will provide vulnerable children and carers with the same certainty as adoption but without severing children from their legal identity or cutting off all ties to their extended families,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Young people who are in, or have been in, out-of-home care strongly supported the introduction of this order as a means of providing long-term care within a normal family environment”.
“The children I have spoken to tell me they want a forever home, somewhere they can call their own and know that they will not have to start all over again.
“We have children living with some amazing dedicated and committed foster carers and we want to provide them with the stability they need to get the best possible outcomes for these children.
“That stability will help to promote positive life-long outcomes for these children as well as enabling them to maintain connections with their community and culture and significant people in their lives.”
The proposed changes will limit the making of consecutive short-term protection orders to a maximum of two years.
The new permanency order makes obtaining long-term orders significantly easier on children by streamlining court processes and eliminating the requirement to continually prove that the child cannot be safely returned to a parent at any stage of the court process.
Ms Fentiman said new permanency principles would be introduced, as well as provisions in the Act that guide how best to achieve permanency for a child.
Professional foster care to commence in Queensland for the first time
In addition to proposed changes to the Act, Ms Fentiman said as part of the strategy to provide better outcomes and stability for children, a new $3 million trial (over two years) would see professional foster carers trained to provide stable, supportive family environments to children and young people with very complex needs who may otherwise live in residential care.
A similar trial was announced in Victoria in October.
“What this means is that we will continue to build the skills of carers to better enable them to support children and young people who have suffered a trauma, who have a disability or need specialised behavioural support, and to care for large sibling groups,” she said.
“Because we know the best place for children and young people coming into care is in a family environment, we want to help make that a reality for all children, no matter what their needs.
“This new trial will mean we have carers ready and willing to take on children and young people with high-support needs, and that they have the skills to help them.
“For children coming into care they need a stable home environment and a place where they belong.”
Ms Fentiman said foster and kinship carers across the state were some of the most passionate and dedicated people.
“We are extremely lucky to have so many families out there willing to step in and provide a loving home for children who cannot live safely at home,” she said.
“But we know there are some children coming into care who need an extra level of support and these professional foster carers will help fill that gap.
“This is about ensuring all Queensland children face a bright future and are able to overcome any hurdles they face in their childhood.”
Media Contact: Ron Goodman 0427 781 920