Sunday marks the beginning of National Adoption Awareness Week in Australia.
The week draws attention to the almost 40,000 Australian children who have been living without a permanent home for more than two years; and the fact adoption is still very rare in this country.
But according to Care South, one of the MIA’s biggest provider of out of home care services, things are now changing in NSW.
Tracy Mayo, a Care South manager, said the NSW government is implementing reforms aimed at giving children in out of home care more stability than they’ve had in the past.
“If you look at the number of children coming into foster care, it’s clear something is not working… permanent outcomes is what we’re looking for,” she said.
Ms Mayo said the best option for children is for them to stay with or return to birth families. Where that is not possible – there is a need to look at permanent options, such as kinship placements with extended family or adoption.
Renee Carter, CEO of advocacy group Adopt Change, said for too long children have been allowed to drift.
“There are almost 40,000 children who have been living separately from their birth families for two or more years, unlikely to return home. Instead, they typically face 12.5 years in the out of home care system, with some children moving ten or twenty times and others living in residential group homes.
“The negative repercussions for children now and in later life include higher rates of homelessness, interactions with the justice system, and lower rates of education and health”.
Ms Mayo said in the past, adoption was done in secret in Australia, and this caused trauma for both children removed and birth parents.
But she said adoption as practiced today is very different, as it is “open”.
“The main difference with open adoption is there is a need to involve the birth parents”.
Ms Mayo said that Yenda’s Gibbs family adoption of Damien is “a perfect example” of all parties working together in the best interest of the child.
Care South is currently seeking accreditation to become an adoption agency. At this stage, they can still assist people interested in adopting a child, they will work on the process in conjunction with the Department of Family and Community Services.
Ms Mayo said fostering and adoption is open to a broad range of people, including those who are single or aged over 50 – provided they meet the stringent background checks. There are many children in need of care in the Leeton region, so they welcome a discussion on how you can help.
Care South currently need foster families for children and young people in the Leeton area able to support restoration of children to their birth families, offer immediate or respite care, or move towards guardianship or open adoption of children in their care. They provide ongoing training and 24/7 support. Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering can call Alana in CareSouth’s Griffith office on 0437 136 166.
Griffith is the closest office to Leeton.