Carer Advocacy Priorities 2022

The Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) is asking the Victorian Government to prioritise care services ahead of the state election in November. Foster care is a critically underfunded area of child welfare and volunteer foster carers have borne some of the highest health, wellbeing, educational, social and economic costs during the pandemic and cost of living increases in 2022.

Support for foster carers is an effective investment. It directly improves the welfare of the children and young people in foster care households. On top of this immediate benefit, recent studies estimate that the economic benefit to the Victorian economy of volunteers providing safe homes for children in state care, is between $450-$850 million every year.

While volunteer foster care saves money compared to alternatives such as residential care, foster carers’ indirect benefit to society and the economy is substantial. Foster carers facilitate children’s access to critical health and education which enables them to recover from trauma and abuse. These services are vital for learning, skills acquisition, health and development and enable children to live productive and fulfilling lives. Foster carers support children and young people now, which in turn champions their potential life outcomes.

Unfortunately, because of inadequate funding, carers continue to pay for the costs of caring out of their own pockets resulting in poor morale, high attrition rates and low recruitment. This has significant system wide costs including placement instability, high carer turnover rates, loss of experienced carers and increased recruitment costs.

Victoria again had the highest number of carers (580) exit the foster care system in Australia during 2020-21 and proportionally fewest commencing foster care (315). This represents a net loss of 265 carers for the state.