The Department of Communities (Communities) values family and foster carers and the fundamental role they play in the care of children – we are partners in care and we need to work together.

Providing family and foster carers with the right support, at the right time and for the right reason, will bring about the best outcomes for children in care.

During Child Protection Week 2019, Hon Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Child Protection announced that the Department would partner with the Foster Care Association Western Australia (FCAWA) to review processes around recruitment, suitability and support mechanisms. This led to the development of the Foster Care Refresh project.

Consultation

Phase 1 and 2 of consultation is now complete. Phase 1 engaged with Departmental family and foster carers and phase 2 sought feedback from Community Sector Organisation (CSO) carers, in partnership with the Alliance for Children at Risk.

Phase 3 is now underway and provides an additional opportunity for Communities’ carers and designated Communities staff to provide feedback.

Departmental registered carers are invited to complete an online survey that is open until 20 July 2020.  Carers who attended the face-to-face sessions can also participate in the online survey. 

Thank you again to all Communities and CSO carers who participated in the consultation feedback and provided their insights and ideas, which has broadly focussed on:

  • Building Effective Partnerships
  • Developing a Capable and Confident Workforce
  • Responsive and Agile System.

Many carers displayed genuine care and admiration of Communities’ and agency workers and acknowledged the complex and demanding environments in which workers are operating.

Carers offered suggestions to improve the foster care experience, including:

  • better communication
  • consistency in worker/child/carer case management
  • a more responsive and inclusive system with regard to planning and decision making, including cultural planning
  • greater access and in-home support for children with complex needs
  • system reform to access better health and educational services. 

The Refresh Project Team is scheduling feedback sessions with Regional Leadership groups and has met with the Child and Family Alliance WA.

Some early opportunities and actions have been implemented already, including policy and practice guidance for medical assessments and decision making.

Roundtable meeting

A roundtable meeting was chaired by the Commissioner for Children and Young People on 14 February 2020. The meeting brought together foster carers and experts on family and foster care to consider the information gathered in phase 1, and to make recommendations to address gaps and improve the experience of carers and the children in their care.

The Roundtable group made several suggestions for immediate action as well as recommendations for long-term initiatives for consideration.

Final report

It is envisaged that post the collation of all feedback, a Foster Care Refresh Report will be prepared and provide an opportunity for systemic issues and system wide practice improvements to be developed in an inclusive and respectful process with carers, Communities staff, and the CSO sector.

How do I find out more?

If you have any further queries, please email fostercarershaveyoursay@communities.wa.gov.au.