Foster Care Week runs this year from Sunday 10 to Saturday 16 September in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Agencies and regional groups in these states will hold events to thank carers for the love, nurture and support they give every day to children and young people in care.
Foster care is provided to children and young people who are unable to live with their own families. NSW Families and Community Services said that need for foster carers from a broad range of backgrounds has never been more critical.
Indeed, the number of children receiving child protection services continues to rise, with almost three-quarters of these children repeat clients, according to new analysis from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Child Protection Australia 2015–16, shows that more than 162,000 children (aged under 18) – or one in 33 children – received child protection services in 2015–16.
“The number of children receiving child protection services has grown by around 10,000 per year for the preceding two years, from about 152,000 in 2014–15 and 143,000 in 2013–14,” AIHW spokesperson David Braddock said.
Children who received child protection services were those who were the subject of an investigation, and/or on a care and protection order, and/or in out-of-home care.
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“Children may receive a combination of child protection services,”' Mr Braddock said. “Our report shows that while a majority (60 per cent) were the subject of an investigation only, almost one-quarter (24 per cent) were on both an order and in out-of-home care, and nine per cent were involved in all three components of the system.”
Most children in out-of-home care were placed with relatives or kin however 39 per cent were placed in foster care. More than half of foster carer households had more than one child placed with them.
The report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were seven times as likely as non-Indigenous children to have received child protection services.
“There is an ongoing need for Aboriginal carers to help keep children cared for within their community and connected to culture,” a spokesperson from Fostering NSW said.
She said the organisation has “a huge need for carers with the ability to offer emergency care to children when they are first removed from their homes.
“Like the amazing foster and kinship carers being honoured during Foster Care Week, you could help a child find their ‘family for life’ and give them a sense of belonging, stability and security that could change the course of their whole future.”