Foster carers (10.11.2016)
Written on the 11 November 2016
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
My adjournment matter this evening is to the Minister for Families and Children.
It relates to foster care payments, and I am wanting some clarity from the minister or her department. It involves foster care parents Kevin and Wendy Maria from Langkoop, which is in the far western part of the state it is an area that I know right on the South Australian border, so it is quite a way from Melbourne. Kevin and Wendy have two foster children that they look after, and both have high-care needs. One of them is a level 5 and the other is a level 4 they have a level 4 and level 5 care allowance.
Their unfortunate circumstances are quite distressing. Both of their parents are in prison, and the foster parents wanted to give some permanency to the children. They have been carers for almost six years, and they have had these children for quite some time since 2011.In wanting to give these children some permanency, they spoke with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) about funding arrangements for them. When they both asked whether the allowance would be cut, the DHHS regional department and manager assured them that it would remain unchanged. However, only recently the family has been advised by DHHS that that is not the case and that they will be in fact losing $3000 a month from the allowance they receive to care for these children.
As I said, the foster parents live near the South Australian border, close to 4½ hours away, and they often have to come to Melbourne with the children for appointments at the Royal Children's Hospital because they have high-care needs. DHHS asked them to appeal their case, admitting that they had told them in error that nothing would change in losing these payments. They are understandably very distressed by the fact that they potentially cannot afford to look after these two very needy children because of the $3000-a-month cut to their payments. They need to have some clarification from the minister and her department as soon as possible because there will come a time when they may have to give up these children simply because they cannot care for them and meet their high-care needs.The action I seek is that the minister immediately intervene to get the clarification that this family needs so that they can maintain the foster care they are providing to these two very vulnerable young children.