By Nigel Tapp
Leading community services organisations Connections UnitingCare and MacKillop Family Services have launched a unique Australia-first program in out-of-home care for children under the age of three.
With the support of the Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust, ‘Concurrent Care – Breaking down the Silos’ will accredit families as both foster and permanent carers at the same time so they are able to care for the child for as much of their journey from temporary care to permanency as possible.
The program will enable families to care for a child as foster carers for the first six months of their placement while efforts are made to reunite the child with their parents or a parent.
At the end of six months, a decision is made as to the permanent placement of the child, whether that be reunification with the birth family or permanent placement with their foster carers.
Connections chief executive officer, Angela Forbes, said the model had proven effective overseas because all parties were working towards achieving the best outcomes for the child.
“Concurrent Care provides an alternative where a child is placed in a potentially permanent placement as early as possible and (it) seeks to reduce the number of placement moves young children may endure,” she said.
MacKillop Family Services, CEO, Micaela Cronin said what the children needed most was a safe, secure and nurturing place to call home.
“A considerable number of our foster carers would be keen to move from fostering to permanent care. Where children have been unable to be re-united with their birth parents, this program will help carers to do this,” Ms. Cronin said.