The demand to place Queensland children and young people in foster care has increased during COVID-19, prompting the government to share the experience of carers in a campaign designed to encourage more people to consider it for themselves.
Queensland Minister for Children Leanne Linard said that despite more people signing up to be foster carers in the last year, it was still not enough to keep up with increased demand for foster homes to place vulnerable young people.
“We have seen a 20% increase in the number of families stepping up to care for the first time, with 1,645 new families registered in the 12 months to June 2020 compared to 1,373 to June 2019,” Linard said.
“While we are very fortunate to already have thousands of caring Queenslanders who foster, more are needed as the number of children requiring care increases.”
The ‘We need more foster carers like you’ campaign tells the real-life stories of carers via digital and social media platforms as well as a piece for television. It aims to show the many kinds of households and people who participate in fostering children, from individuals who are single, married or in a de-facto relationship, as well as people with and without their own biological children.
The initiative was unveiled by Linard, who was joined by child safety advocate and Kinship Care Executive Director Bryan Smith to officially launch the campaign at Queensland’s parliament house at the weekend.
Mr Smith has fostered children for 29 years with his wife Linda and said that all types of families can have what is needed to become a safe and protective home for vulnerable children.
“Someone asked me recently if we could turn back time, would we do it again and my response was ‘we would jump into it’.
“It’s hard and tough but it doesn’t stop us wanting to look after children, it becomes part of your soul,” Smith said.
He urged people to consider how they might be able to make an impact as a foster carer and said it was worth having a conversation about how that arrangement might work if it was something they were open to.
“Fostering isn’t for everyone and that’s okay, but there are plenty of people out there who can do it and I would really encourage them to come forward,” Smith said.
“Foster and kinship carers are the heart and soul of our child protection system and without them we don’t have placements for children and we don’t have care of children.”
Campaign advertising has started to air on statewide TV and Queenslanders interested in starting their own foster carer journey are being invited to submit an expression of interest.
The Queensland Foster and Kinship Care line is offering to speak with anyone who is interested in fostering children in the state on 1300 550 877.