The Marshall Government has delivered on its 100-day commitment to extend foster care payments for young people up to 21 years of age and broaden the qualifications accepted for child protection workers to help fill dozens of vacancies.
From January 1 2019, foster and kinship carers can access government financial support while they care for a young person up to 21 years of age.
Previously, government financial support was only provided for children up to 18 years of age.
“Every South Australian child deserves the very best start to life,” said Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson.
“This new commitment gives children – and now young adults – continued financial support when they need it most.
“The extended foster care payments to families has a range of long-term benefits, including reduced long-term costs to government.
“A number of studies show outcomes for young people supported beyond 18 years of age include better employment prospects, improved physical and mental health and drastically reduced incidence of alcohol and drug dependency and interaction with the justice system.
“This commitment also means the state’s selfless foster carers do not have to shoulder the cost burden themselves, which means they could assist other, young foster children in the future.”
The full uptake and impact of the extended foster care payments initiative will be reviewed after 12 months and costs will be dealt with as part of the upcoming State Budget.
The State Government is today also announcing the commencement of reforms that will broaden the accepted qualifications for child protection workers so more vulnerable children in South Australia can be better supported.
“In April 2018, the Department of Child Protection had about 50 FTE vacancies across all social worker roles,” said Minister Sanderson.
“We will now accept degree level qualifications that relate to child protection, such as health and human services, in addition to social workers.
“This new approach is already in place in other jurisdictions and was endorsed by Royal Commissioner Margaret Nyland.
“Broadening the accepted qualifications aims to reduce vacancies and in turn, improve outcomes for children and young people.”
The Department of Child Protection will provide training and support for all new employees.
“These positive steps forward are yet another example that protecting some of the state’s most vulnerable young people is an absolute priority of the new State Government,” said Minister Sanderson.
“The whole community benefits when our young people are in safe, secure and loving environments – that is our aim.”