FCAV is committed to connecting and developing our relationships with our members and foster care agencies and to that end has embarked upon a 12 month in-person roadshow across Victoria beginning in July 2023. The visits have been a fabulous opportunity to connect with carers and staff in person and be able to promote the services available through FCAV and provide carers and teams with information on FCAV services and offerings, and hear from carers and staff across Victoria about the work, advocacy and support needs that are priorities for them.
Between them Samantha Hauge CEO, Tessa Hughes Team Leader and Deb Collard Learning and Development Program, have visited 23 foster care programs across Victoria in both regional and Melbourne metro areas since the beginning of the Road Show in July of this year including:
Anchor, Anglicare, BDAC, Berry Street, Baptcare, Brophy, Key Assets, Lighthouse, UMFC, MacKillop, Mallee Family Care, MASP, MDAS, Oz Child, Quantum, Uniting & VACCA.
Sam has met with a number of Agency staff, carers and CEOs and during Foster Care Week Sam was honoured to be at several Carer celebrations across the state.
Each one of the visits has provided valuable insight and given us further knowledge regarding the unique challenges carers’ face in local areas and what their communities experience. It has been encouraging to hear about the innovations by carer led groups and Agencies and ACCOS, to overcome these challenges. The FCAV will use these examples to inform our advocacy for standardized supports and improvement to carer support across the state based on evidence of what works for carers.
It has been encouraging to witness the commitment and passion each agency has to seek improvement to the system and to ensure their foster carers are better supported.
In turn, FCAV has been able to outline our services and member benefits, including the Foster Care Principle, which we developed recently, highlighting the CARE factor. Foster carers and agency staff introduced to the CARE Principal are very supportive of it as a standard and FCAV will continue to apply and promote the Principal across the state to all stakeholders who support carers. It is intended as a scaffold for conversation and reflective practice with the prime understanding that the wellbeing and care of our foster carers is vital.
Some of the challenges raised by both carers and workers are consistent across the state including the impact of cost-of-living expenses and inadequacy of the carer allowance on both households and recruitment of new carers. Other themes include a lack of respite options in some regional programs and the need for therapeutic support for all children in care. One agency has begun a therapeutic support group for its foster carers, and it is exceeding expectations with both workers and carers attending together, gaining much insight into therapeutic practice to ultimately assist the child in care, ensuring all have the same understanding of what is needed.
The Roadshow continues as we head towards the end of the year. If you or your agency is interested in meeting with FCAV, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Deb visited Anchor Community Care Ltd and met with the Foster Care Team recently.
Another idea was to organise our Chats with the CEO at agencies across each division, so that several times per year hold we meet face to face and connect with each other.
We will be continuing our Road Show over the next few months so if you would like a visit, either at a Carer function or Agency team meeting please email Deb and she can organise a time via an email to email@example.com or ring the office on 9416 4292.
Whilst visiting Mildura at Mallee Family Care, Sam engaged in a discussion with a journalist and CEO Theresa Jayet, calling on the Victorian Government to recognize the need for improved carer supports.
"Carer retention is at an all-time low and has been declining over the past several years, so unless the government takes a serious look at carer retention and recruitment strategies, we will be in a dire situation," Ms Hauge said.
"The best form of recruitment is carer word of mouth. The happier our carers are, the more people we can recruit, so if we look at better respect, supports and more financial backing that in turn will help us recruit and retain carers."
Ms Jayet said Victorian carers were faring worst when it came to financial support. Read the article here.