Collaboration survey results – foster carers and the DCP

The results from the Collaboration and Cooperation Survey completed last week show little change in the rate of collaboration and cooperation between foster carers and the Department for Child Protection, with percentages in each category being similar to those in June 2017.  Responses from those identifying as foster carers varied significantly from the overall result but the number of foster carers who responded is small.

Collaboration and cooperation between foster carers and  (DCP) workers

never not normal sometimes frequently always n*
June 2017 – all responses (%)


15 57 21 4


Jan. 2018 – all responses (%)

2 21 54 18 4


Jan. 2018 – foster carers  (%) 8 17 42 33 0


*n is the number of respondents who felt competent to comment on this aspect of collaboration and cooperation. Where the numbers are small, one should be careful of drawing more than broad general conclusions.

Foster carer comments

Five of the foster carers who responded left comments.  Some comments have been edited for brevity and to minimise repetition.

Cooperation and collaboration between Foster Carers, Kinship Carers and the Department remains sub-standard… Examples of this are an absence of communicating with carers about a child’s access to biological parents which is only known after the access has occurred or material decisions being made with no regard to the best interests of the child.

I am more than disappointed that DCP don’t involve carers in case planning [and] reunification planning…

Carers are being excluded from children’s annual reviews including meetings, copies of their own annual reviews, case planning [and] financial agreements…  Meetings are taking place without carers … decisions are being made by staff, both NGO and DCP, who have never met the children nor the carer and with no knowledge at all…

There is no or very little effective communication … in working WITH foster (carers) parents…

NGO’s are failing to support foster carers who are left to advocate for their children alone. No one has ever checked to see if foster carers are receiving the support NGO’s are paid to provide them. Foster carers are leaving the system and only few are joining!

Comments from other than foster carers

Communication between DCP and Carers (foster and kinship carers caring for children in the statutory care system) can be improved. Many issues that arise for carers are due to lack of communication, miscommunication or poor communication. (NGO Manager)

DCP workers do not have the attitude and skills to work respectfully and collaboratively with families and other professionals….The message about respect and collaboration is not breaking through. (child protection worker – area not identified)

I think communication can be excellent and it can be really poor. I believe it is person-led and not necessarily because any organisation applies quality assurance measures across the agency consistently. (DCP worker)

I’ve not noticed any significant change as recommended by the Royal Commission, in particular foster carers are provided with next to no information on the children residing in their homes. (DCP Worker)

Analysis and commentary

Although the number of respondents was fewer than in the 2017 survey, the responses indicate that there has been little change in the frequency of coordination and collaboration between foster carers and the DCP.  The comments left by foster carers highlight similar issues to those raised in the June 2017 survey and are supported by respondents elsewhere within the system.

It is reasonable to expect that cooperation and collaboration should occur ‘always’ or ‘frequently’. Only 25 percent of respondents to the June 2017 survey and 22 percent of the 2018 survey gave a ‘pass mark’ to the DCP/foster carer collaboration by this standard.  The bulk of the commentators suggested or implied that the DCP should take the initiative in improving the collaborative relationship. Numbers of commentators suggested that workload for DCP workers limited opportunities to develop collaborative practice.

One Response

  1. YES DCP workloads do impact on workers’ availability and time to work more closely with caregivers.’
    NGOs also have a responsibilty to carers and workload issues exist for those agencies as well.
    The primary client here is the CHILD and this gets forgotten amongst everyone else’s needs and wants.
    However we do need to work together to get the best results for the children and young people on orders.

    What is missing here is the training on alternate care systems and theories eg placement prevention breakdown meetings, regular home visits to carers home with carer support agency/kinship. I mean by this extensive training not just one or two days at least a full week
    Also training on systemic practice and theory eg how the various systems issues impact on the client within the alt care system. Tony Morrison’s work around relationship building with community and agencies tells us quite rightly that it is of little long term use to client when really good worker practice is to stay connected and communicate across the systems and then it changes for the client when the “good ” worker moves one.Tony Morrison for example talks about how the systems, policy and practice must be recognised and embedded in practice, policy an dprocedure not just left up to some workers.

    Also of course more serious and immediate resources are required to find placements for the children.
    All of the above make it very difficult for workers govt or non govt to be inclusive of carers and be child focussed.

    DCP and Carer agencies need to highlight the importance of how both agencies work together to ensure best results for the children in care. When placements break down carers should write a letter or card explaining to the child leaving their placement that things just did not work out and wish them well. There are some fantastic carers out there but unfortunately there are far too many children and young people who have no self esteem and just think that that are unlovable,not wanted and have no hope of finding a family to love them. They also get given a tag of “too hard to place” and a reputation spurred on by workers and ex carers talking about their deficits. Together we can turn this around just by recognising the affect of failed placements on children and young people.

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