As the situations and requirements of each child and family are different, so are the kinds of care that may be required. Carers can nominate the type of care they are interested in and able to provide.
Kinship care is defined as care provided by blood relatives or kinship relatives of an Aboriginal child when they cannot live with their parents. Kinship care provides an environment where Aboriginal family, community and culture are valued and are central to a child’s safety, stability and development, when they cannot live with their parents. In Aboriginal culture, family is inclusive of extended family members and other persons identified as kin by cultural traditions. It may not be a blood relative.
Foster carers provide children or young people with a safe, stable and secure family environment for the child or young person until they can return home. For some children, it takes longer to achieve this goal and they need to remain in foster care for a longer period of time.
Emergency placements are for children who need an urgent placement because there are concerns for their immediate safety. These placements occur during office hours but also after hours and on weekends. Due to the urgency of these placements there is minimal notice. Usually the child will have an alternative placement organised within 48 hours. Emergency carers need to be able to provide care for very young children at short notice.
It is recognised that parents and carers need a break from their caring role from time to time. Carers can provide respite care for children placed with other carers for short periods of time, e.g. school holidays, weekends or for short periods during the week. Respite care is usually planned care and can be scheduled in advance.
Short to Medium-term Care
These are placements usually up to three to six months in duration. Short to medium-term placements have a strong focus on reunifying the child with their parents, extended family or within their community of origin.
These placements are for six months or longer. Long-term placements can become more permanent placements, if all efforts to reunify the child with their family, extended family or community have been unsuccessful.
To ensure Aboriginal children are provided with appropriate care the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, is applied for every Aboriginal child in need of care (a key principle of the Care and Protection Act 2007). The order of priority for selecting a suitable placement is:
- with a member of the child’s family
- with an Aboriginal person in the child’s community in accordance with local community practice
- with any other Aboriginal person.
If a child can’t be placed with any of the above, alternate placement choices can be made. Other options then include placing the child with a carer who is not Aboriginal, but is considered capable of promoting the child’s ongoing contact with their family, and ongoing connections with the culture of the child’s community. Wherever possible, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children are placed with carers who live in close proximity to the child’s family and/or community.
Carers who care for an Aboriginal child or young person will work in collaboration with their Care Team to ensure the child or young person’s cultural needs are being met whilst in care .