In the last available figures, over 10 per cent of children and young people in state care were in residential care.1 Residential care in South Australia has expanded as the demand for places for children and young people in state care has exceeded the supply of foster and kinship carers.
- At 30 June 2017, there were 132 residential care houses of which 107 were able to accommodate three or more residents.
- That number does not include the variety of other temporary arrangements that are made for the approximately160 young people in what is known as ‘commercial’ or ‘emergency care’.
- The number of residential care houses remained constant at around 60 in previous years, crept up to 71 by the end of 2015-16 and then increased to the current level when the government instituted a planned expansion in 2016-17.
- About half of the residential care houses are managed by the Department for Child Protection and the others by a range of non-government organisations such as Aboriginal Family Support Services, Anglican Community Care, Junction Australia and Uniting Care Wesley Country SA.
- Most houses are of a small scale with room to accommodate three young people although some are larger to provide for family groups.
- Five of the properties are large scale units, designed to accommodate between eight and twelve children and young people. The Guardian’s monitoring, has shown these larger units to be unsuitable for most residents and the Guardian has recommended their closure.
- One in five houses is located outside the metropolitan area with concentrations being in Mount Gambier (six) and Whyalla (five) and three each in Murray Bridge, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln.
Children and young people placed in residential care continue to be among the most vulnerable. The Guardian’s Office is re-examining how it will monitor their well-being in 2017-18 to take account of the increased numbers.
1 The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2008) defines residential care as the ‘co-location of residents in a community setting staffed by paid residential care workers. This is distinct from home-based care arrangements where a child or young person lives in a carer’s home as in foster or kinship care.
Community setting homes staffed by paid care workers…
Please, please,please…. make sure in the contracts that organisations ENSURE that the paid employees have been trained to work with children and young persons… that developmental trauma and trauma informed practises are used in those service homes…. I have seen way too much damage and children and young persons re traumatised as employees are NOT adequately qualified to work with children and young persons…. just having certificates in disability or aged care is not GOOD ENOUGH for these children and young persons who have complexed issues to deal with… employers should employ… youth workers for these community homes or the providers need to adequately train staff to full fill contractual obligations .. so the charter of rights be delivered correctly. Let’s give these children and young persons the best service delivery by trained people… they deserve
What will happen to the 160 children and young people who are living in Commercial Care arrangements when this ends on 31 December 2017? Will the answer be more Residential Care arrangements?
It is time to start looking at how the system can treat it’s current foster and kinship carers better and to develop some formal retention and recruitment strategies so more children and young people in care can live and grow with families.