Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath has called on the Andrews Labor Government to fix a system that’s seeing foster carers being paid up to six months late.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Ms Bath asked Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos about some specific examples of delays in payments.
“Our foster care volunteers become the mainstay of a child’s life, and in effect they function to return that child’s life to normal,” Ms Bath told parliament.
“An important factor in providing home-based care for vulnerable children is to be able to provide that safe and nurturing environment and to do so by also being supported themselves. Many carers are highly frustrated with the system, including the role of the Department of Health and Human Services.”
“In accordance with the Victorian Handbook for Foster Carers, the care allowance contributes to the day-to-day costs incurred while providing care for a child in in their home. Daily expenses can include medical bills, activities, education, clothing and items that a carer often finds that they need to pay for. These expenses are in addition to food and household provisions.”
Ms Bath raised specific examples in parliament after she and Shadow Minister for Families and Children Georgie Crozier met with a number of Gippsland foster care families recently.
“One foster carer provides regular respite care for a young teenage boy and has done so for a number of years. She was only paid last week; since January she was not paid for eight months of the year for her service.”
“Another wonderful foster carer also had a similar experience. She was not paid for seven and a half months and as she put all of her details in on a regular basis, the money was actually incorrect and was short. Another person who was a full-time carer of a little baby since she was few months old was not reimbursed for six months of the year — six months!”
Ms Bath emphasised that foster carers are not motivated by the reimbursements and allowances they receive, but that the system should remit the funds that are due in a timely manner.
“All of these people tell me that they do not do it for the money, but we need to value these foster care families. We need to respect them, and I ask the minister to guarantee that these people will be paid on a monthly basis rather than having to go cap in hand to actually receive some return for their services inside eight months,” she concluded.