Now all foster children in Australia for the first time will receive individual plans detailing the support they need after leaving care. This comes under the new national scheme wherein uniform standards in meeting each child’s requirements at the time of entering foster care will be ensured. At present child protection systems are different for each of the states and territories. This scheme will unite them all.
The state and federal ministers agreed to a consistent benchmark for the care of children who are unable to live with their parents, federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin said. This would include health, education and training, increased support for carers and improved planning for transition from care from the age of 15 years. Immediate attention would be paid to physical, developmental, psychosocial and mental health needs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities would also be involved.
The system would come into force in July next year. The “transition from care” scheme, which starts when a child is 15, will be developed in consultation with each child and be reviewed annually. Ms Macklin said, “The national standards are the result of extensive consultation with state and territory governments, the non-government sector and children and young people who are living in, or who have left care and their carers… This is the first time a national government had provided leadership in child protection.”
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Child Protection Australia 2008-09, there were more than 34,000 children in out-of-home care on June 30 last year.