Northern Tasmania has the least number of active and authorised foster carers in the state.
Data provided by advocacy body Foster Carers Kinship Association Tasmania shows there are only 58 active foster carer families in the North. This is compared to 64 in the North-West and 139 in the South.
FKAT chief executive Kim Backhouse said there was a general trend across the country, not only in Tasmania, of an increase of children entering the foster care system but carer numbers were declining.
“There is an overall trend in out-of-home care: that the number of children entering the system is increasing and children have increasingly complex problems as a result of extremely damaging family situations,” Dr Backhouse said.
“For this reason alone we need to have more foster and kinship carers not only locally but nationally.”
A number of Northern foster care organisations have begun recruitment drives to try and increase the numbers of foster carers. Launceston and North-West Coast-based Glenhaven will begin their training course this weekend.
Dr Backhouse said FKAT recognised the increased need for carers, because of Tasmania’s ageing population but said foster and kinship care was a “vital element” of the out of home care system.
In 2015 FKAT provided the state government with feedback from its network of carers.
“The government acknowledged that they needed to better support foster and kinship carers who look after our children in state care and that is why we have constantly advocated for the reform into Out of Home Care alongside their extensive reform program for children and families,” she said.
The reform program includes the child protection redesign and the joined up services, youth at risk, and the family violence action plan. Dr Backhouse said another issue is multiple placements of children and young people in out-of-home care.
“Children may be placed in out-of-home care for short, medium or long-term periods or permanently. Some children are placed in out-of-home care under respite arrangements,” she said.
In 2016-17, the government budgeted more than $40 million for out of home care.