FOSTER carers have endorsed a recommendation to pay people to become full-time carers for children with the most complex care needs.
Nanjing Night Net

A parliamentary inquiry recommended the introduction of a tiered system for foster carers from volunteers to paid professionals.

Foster Carers’ Association of Tasmania president John Flanagan said he was originally against the idea, but changed his mind about six months ago.

“It’s always been my belief that if you want to foster, you’ll foster,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I thought if you got paid people, it wouldn’t be the same, but we haven’t got enough foster carers to look after the more needy ones, the more difficult ones.”

Mr Flanagan said the department was already considering the scheme and he had discussed it with former children’s minister Lin Thorp and Children and Family Services chief executive Mark Byrne last year.

He said some children required 24-hour supervision and needed at least two people to adequately look after them.

“I know people who are willing to do it but unfortunately they can’t afford to give up their jobs,” Mr Flanagan said.

“Basically they’re saying: `We’ll pay you to stay home a look after this child’.”

The committee’s report, handed down in December, also recommended investigating the need for specially trained therapeutic foster carers.

Mr Flanagan, who has been a foster carer for 14 years, welcomed other recommendations including mentoring for new foster carers, more training and support and better information sharing by the department.

He said he had witnessed gradual improvements being made to make life easier for foster carers, leading to better outcomes for children in care, but significant changes were difficult because of a lack of available funding.

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