The recent Anglicare report, Breaking the Cycle, paints the picture of a system sitting precariously on the edge.
One of the key remarks in the report, as reported in The Examiner on September 11, explores what happens when children are removed from their family home and placed in out-of-home care.
It becomes a catch-22.
Most families who have a child removed from the home experience a dramatic reduction in income.
This income is financial assistance from the federal government.
The Family Assistance payments are there to help raise children.
If a child is removed from the home that payment should go with the child.
However, it’s also argued – including within the Anglicare report – that the removal of income places additional stress on the family.
This leaves the family struggling to support themselves in order to have the child or children return back to the home.
Evidence suggests that the best outcome for the majority of children is to have them return to the home.
But, not to the environment that they left. Instead to an improved situation.
The removal of this payment delays this reunification, according to Anglicare.
Despite this, foster carers deserve the financial assistance to support the child they are willingly and generously bringing into their families.
Where does this leave us?
There are initiatives currently in place to help parents that are struggling. We must remember there are a variety of reasons to remove children from their home. While it’s generally a case of neglect, the cause can be behavioural issues, violence, drugs, grief or health issues.
The focus should be placed back on the preventative measures.
Much like the health system, an ideal world would see considerably more money invested to keep children in homes, rather than funds to try and return them to the home or keep them safe via foster homes.