Speaking in State Parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the Minister for Child Protection and Family Services to address the huge gaps in mental health services for children living in out-of-home care.
“Children entering out-of-home care are often in a highly traumatised state.
“Gippsland foster care advocate; Heather Baird from A Better Life for Foster Kids has been for some time calling for comprehensive treatment plans to cover a child’s mental wellbeing when they enter care.
“Mrs Baird has been lobbying for mental health support to be provided at the entry point of care to assist a child’s transition into care.
“These children enter out of home care from dysfunctional backgrounds – their emotional and psychological wellbeing must be a priority.
“To better support carers, the Andrews Government must introduce a youth-specific mental health triage within the first six weeks of a care arrangement.”
Ms Bath also took the opportunity to raise the issue of reimbursements for foster carers.
“Our foster carers provide an essential service in our community by supporting vulnerable children to grow up in a stable, nurturing home,” said Ms Bath.
“Despite an urgent identified need, the Andrews Government has left our foster carers out in the cold and out of pocket.
“A recent report conducted by KPMG identified that a 67 per cent increase in the payment of foster carers is warranted to bring Victorian reimbursements in line with NSW and Queensland.
“Presently the foster care allowance in Victoria doesn’t even cover the basic essentials, it has failed to keep pace with CPI and it must change.
“I call on the Minister for Child Protection and Family Services to work with A Better Life for Foster Kids, Heather Baird to improve support for the mental health of our most vulnerable children and the financial stability of those who provide such dedicated care.”