SA Government legislates to strengthen the rights of children in out of home care
The South Australian Government has committed to strengthening the rights of children and young people in care to ensure they have regular and meaningful connections with their siblings through a partnership between the Department for Child Protection (DCP) and CREATE Foundation.
The State Government committed additional funding to CREATE to improve advocacy and support for children and young people in care and leaving care. This includes providing $800,000 over four years to strengthen the voices of children and young people, with a focus on sibling connection.
As part of this funding, CREATE Foundation hosts an annual sibling connection event and this year released a report titled Sibling Connection SA, which included six recommendations aimed at strengthening relationships for siblings in care.
The report draws on the experiences of 26 young people with a care experience and focuses on areas of practice that can be improved to ensure decisions about siblings in care are child-centred and a key focus when making decisions about placements.
“Supporting strong sibling relationships for children in care is critical,” Jacqui Reed, CREATE Foundation CEO said.
“Where possible, sibling co-placements should be the priority but where that is not safe or possible, children must be supported by their caseworkers and carers to build and maintain strong and meaningful connections with their siblings. Enhancing the legislation and strengthening the practice guidance around this is a very welcome move.”
DCP acknowledges that when a child or young person is in care, it is essential that they are supported to maintain and build connections with important people in their lives.
These connections can be crucial to a child’s psychological and emotional wellbeing and sense of identity. To continue to build on this important area of work, DCP is:
- Reviewing and strengthening practice guidance, alongside workplace learning dedicated to sibling contact.
- Several of the recommendations in CREATE’s report, including prioritisation of the Kinship Systems and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle for Aboriginal children and young people and enshrining rights to sibling contact in legislation, are being given consideration in the review of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.
- Consulting with children and young people with a care experience, through CREATE and No Capes for Change.
- Continuing to grow availability of family-based placements, with a strong focus on kinship and community.
“Like all children, children and young people in care have a right to develop and grow relationships with their siblings. For some young people, their relationship with their siblings may be their only ongoing connection with their family,” said Minister for Child Protection Katrine Hildyard.
“This is an area I am passionate about improving with and for children and young people in contact with the child protection and family support system.This is particularly important for Aboriginal children and young people and is a key part of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, which supports the importance of connection to family, community, culture and Country.”
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