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An opportunity to care

An opportunity to care

Urgent need for foster carers in Gippsland

There is an urgent need to place Gippsland children in foster care, ranging from overnight to longer term.

Over the last year, OzChild has had almost 350 referrals within Gippsland, 37 of them were sibling groups of two or more, but only 34 children were able to placed.

The need is already great but is likely to increase further, according to OzChild’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, who is expecting an increase in children being removed from families as the devastating effects of COVID-19 become known.

"No doubt many hundreds of families are struggling, and children and young people are at greater risk of harm as a result of the coronavirus crisis," Dr Griffiths said.

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“Family violence, abuse and neglect doesn’t stop during a crisis. In fact, the chance of children and young people being placed in harm’s way is increased.

“Families have been forced to spend long, uninterrupted time together, normal support systems have not been in place and greater financial and emotional stress can place vulnerable children, young people and families at greater risk.

"I am certain, the demand on the foster care system will be greater than ever before, for a long time after the coronavirus crisis. The need for more foster carers has never been more important, recruiting foster carers in Gippsland is a priority for our team,” Dr Griffiths said.

In Victoria during 2018-19 more than 12,000 children and young people were in out-of-home care (AIHW Child protection Australia report 2018-19). The reasons are often complex and varied, but the challenge of recruiting foster carers or placing children into a kinship care arrangement remains.

“Our In-Home Care team supports hundreds of children and young people throughout Victoria, sadly that number continues to grow.

“While foster care can be challenging at times, the rewards can be life changing. I encourage anyone wanting to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children in Gippsland to reach out to our team, with so many kids in need carers are in high demand, demand that is only expected to grow,” said Dr Griffiths.

Who can become a foster carer?
• Anyone over the age of 21
• Anyone with secure accommodation and appropriate space and safety in the home
• Race, gender, marital status, employment, sexuality and religion do not affect a person’s eligibility to become a foster carer

OzChild provides full training and on-going support to all carers.
• 24/7 carer support
• Respite support
• Ongoing training opportunities
• Community building and access to other social (virtual) events

Visit ozchild.org.au to find out more. OzChild's Gippsland office is at 2/55 Grey Street, Traralgon.

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