In a national first, the Victorian State Government has announced that Uniting Vic.Tas will lead the introduction of a new trial service for foster children with siblings, the Keeping Connected Program.
A tumultuous time of anxiety and uncertainty can be even more confronting for children in out-of-home care if they are separated from their siblings. Statistics reveal that this is the experience for every foster child in four in Victoria.
Paul Linossier, Uniting Vic.Tas CEO says “Too many children enter care separated from their siblings, and miss out on the important interactions that build relationship and a sense of identity, family and belonging.
“By nurturing and maintaining sibling contact, we know children are better able to lead healthy, safe and happy lives. It makes a big difference to their lives and the role of their carers.”
The Government funding will allow Uniting Vic.Tas to trial this program across some of our Victorian services, and welcome dedicated emergency carers to the team. The services will be running alongside the support of the Alfred Health Children and Youth Mental Health Service, and will ensure that brothers and sisters are kept together where possible. The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency will also play a key role, working with Aboriginal children to ensure self-determination is a core pillar of the program’s considerations.
If siblings cannot be placed together in care, the new program will also support ongoing and valuable contact. Carers, birth families and out-of-home care professionals will have access to specialised support and training.
Jenny Mikakos, Victorian Minister for Children and Families, and dedicated Uniting foster carer Maree Armitt were on ABC News Breakfast this morning,talking about the importance of keeping siblings together where possible and the value of this new program. You can watch the piece via this link.