The Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian in Queensland has released a report based its fourth survey of children and young people in foster care in the state.
The report — titled 2011 Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care Survey: Overview and Selected Findings— documents responses from more than 2000 children and young people in care, along with 745 carers of babies and very young children.
Below is a letter from the Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, Elizabeth Fraser, which summarises the reports findings.
The Commission has chosen Child Protection Week to release its latest report – the 2011 Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care Survey: Overview and Selected Findings, which presents selected findings from our fourth survey of children and young people living in foster care in this state.
More than 2000 children and young people in care, along with 745 carers of babies and very young children, responded to the survey, bringing the total number of surveys completed since 2006 to more than 13,000.
Pleasingly, since the survey commenced, the vast majority of children and young people continue to report feeling safe and happy in their placement and have a carer who listens to them and treats them well. When we ask what is special about their placement, children and young people consistently speak about feeling loved and cared for. Many also tell us about how good it is to feel safe and protected, while others mention things like having treats, going on holidays, having friends and pets, and living a ‘normal’ life. Together, these comments tell a powerful story about how quality foster carers can have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people.
Other positive findings in the latest report include a decrease in numbers of children and young people having unresolved health issues or problems at school, continued improvements in the take-up of education support plans and leaving care plans, and high levels of satisfaction with the support provided by the Commission’s Community Visitors.
Alongside these encouraging findings, however, the report reveals that many in care continue to experience considerable instability due to numerous placement changes. Many feel they do not see their Child Safety Officer as often as they would like, feel left out of departmental decisions and do not know why they are in care. Also concerning are high levels of anxiety, with more than 30% of young people and 40% of children saying they worry a lot or all of the time. These issues can have a detrimental impact on the lives on children in care, and I am committed to working with government and the community to help these children enjoy the same kinds of positive opportunities as their peers.
I’m very proud that our Views surveys comprise the largest study of its kind in the world involving the direct participation of children and young people in state care. The surveys provide vital feedback on our child protection and youth justice systems and first-hand information on the availability and responsiveness of services and programs. This feedback provides us with the information we can’t get from administrative data, from measuring service standards or auditing compliance with procedures and processes.
I would like to sincerely thank all those who made this report possible. These include, firstly, the many children and young people who shared their views and experiences, and the carers who assisted by accommodating longer CV visits and completed the surveys on behalf of very young children.
Please view the 2011 Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care Survey: Overview and Selected Findings, young persons’ edition – Your Views and the media release . I am sure that you will be heartened by much of what children and young people have to say and inspired to continue advocating on their behalf to ensure that they are afforded the same life opportunities as their peers who are not in care.
In the months to come, I will be releasing further reports from the foster care survey that focus on discrete topic areas such as education and health and wellbeing.
Elizabeth Fraser | Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian