Call to better resource kinship carers – Opinion article – Mark Morrissey

Children and young people in kinship care.

At times Tasmanian children and young people are unable to remain in the care of their parents. The reasons are varied and can include parents who suffer mental health problems, incarceration, poverty, addiction and disability. Care by extended family, including grandparents, can be an excellent option for these children. This option is called kinship care and may be short or long-term in duration. Children and young people who are able to live with their extended family will continue to maintain the connection and love that only a family can offer. The majority of these arrangements are informal and don’t involve state intervention.

Alternately, if kin are not available, the other option for these kids will involve entering into formal state care. This expensive option often contributes to poorer long-term outcomes. In my experience the state is often a less than ideal parent.

When kin make the significant decision to care for these kids, they must be adequately resourced. At present they receive very little assistance. The harsh reality is that they often struggle financially and physically. It’s expensive raising children. It is also hard work as any parent can attest to.

It concerns me that these remarkable people, often grandparents, receive very little support and recognition.

Recently Kin Raising Kids, Tasmania, met in Burnie to discuss the unmet needs of both kin and kids. This group seeks to promote the positive outcomes of kinship care and also to raise the urgent need for adequate support and resourcing for kinship carers.

They have identified the lack of resourcing and services for informal kin carers. Many of these services would be in place if the children were in formal state care arrangements.

I believe that kin care saves tax payers dollars as well as giving children a much better start to life.

There is strong evidence that children in kinship care experience fewer behavioural problems, fewer mental health disorders, good educational attainment, intact family relations and overall less need for specialised support services.

There is a need to identify how we can better support and resource kinship carers to provide the care and support these children deserve and need.

Kin Raising Kids is calling upon both the state and federal governments to recognise the important contribution kinship carers make to the lives of children who need extra care and support.

Mark Morrissey