Queensland foster and kin carers are being asked to take part in a survey to identify positive ways to give kids a chance of a permanent home.
Leith Harding, from QUT’s School of Psychology and Counselling said in Queensland there were more than 10,000 children in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) with 90 per cent having experienced abuse and neglect.
“Many children experience seven or more placements and too many children never experience a stable, permanent home,” Ms Harding said.
“Out-of-Home Care is complex. I want to step back and look at the issue from the perspective of the foster and kinship carers.
“Because they care for the children daily, I believe foster and kin carers have a unique perspective on the factors that may influence positive placement outcomes for children who have been removed because of safety concerns.
“Ideally we want children to be able to go back to the family home, but only if it is safe and appropriate to do so.
“Children need stability and permanency either in their family or in another permanent family, and contact with their family.
“What we are seeing is that many children are going from foster carer to reunification, back to foster carer and if this cycle continues they get older, miss schooling and eventually are in residential care or living on the streets.
“We don’t get too many bites at the cherry to make this work - to achieve positive permanent placements - so we need to be getting it right so that children are not being moved from family to family.”
Ms Harding said this research aimed to identify the factors that would create and maximise positive permanent placement outcomes and reduce negative outcomes for children transitioning from temporary care to a permanent placement.
This issue has a personal connection for Ms Harding, who is a biological and adoptive mother, and former foster mother, and is undertaking the research as part of her PhD.
“By listening to the experiences of foster and kin carers when it comes to reunification, long term guardianship and/or open adoption, we can help inform best practice for the future,” she said.
“Ultimately I would like to find a number of solutions that have positive outcomes for these kids.”
As part of the research, participants will be asked to complete surveys about their perceptions of the child in their care, and their experience of parenting the child.
Surveys will be anonymous and will not impact current or future relationships with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
To take part, visit https://OOHCsurvey.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9TQoIjAGVhl0ds9.
Leith Harding is also a member of QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation