Alcohol & Other Drug Use and the Kincare Crisis
This latest concerning report (excerpts below) from yet another inquiry/report/audit into children under care, was at pains to ensure the scope and parameters of this document that only a ‘harm management’ process review was conducted. The sources/origins of harm that facilitate the need for Out Of Home Care (OOHC) were precluded from the Audit.
Now, to be fair on this process, it was about attempting to address the concerns of those who are OOHC including ‘Kin Carers’ and how the current ‘system’ does or does not support them in their attempt to care for children not their own, and who are in serious harm’s way.
However, this continuing avoidance of identifying and addressing the source of these initial abuses and neglects that parents of these hapless children place them in has the scent of, yet another drug use scrutiny cover up – or if that sounds austere – at the very least it is carefully curated obfuscation.
At this year’s Australia & New Zealand Addiction Conference, held on the Gold Coast, addiction and recovery clinicians, educators and activists gathered to share their perspectives and experience. One lengthy panel session conducted by Odyssey House was not only matter of fact, but quite revealing around substance use and familial/domestic dysfunction.
In the presentation titled, Family violence Informed AOD Practice – The Journey So Far, the presenter made the following statement.
“AOD and Family violence intersection – Every Drug Rehabilitation program must see drug use as Family Violence – These go together.”
One can draw a number of reasonable conclusions from this statement – and yes, whilst not every drug using parent is neglectful and abusive enough to come onto the radar of child services, the spectrum of neglect, dysfunction, abuse and care-lessness is always contributed to by drug use – whether licit or illicit.
The Audit discusses the imperative of finding ‘Stable Homes’. But again – to labour the so easily now dismissed point – substance use does not make for a stable home in which to raise healthy and psychologically sound children. However, besides one criterion for having a stable home being the absence of substance using carers, what other criteria does one use to determine ‘stability’? Who says? With every personal Mood, Urge Symptom and Taste requiring a ‘seat at the credibility table’, what passes for best practice?
With the elevation of personal opinion and personal culture to the level of ‘best-practice’, simply by wielding such passionately, only muddies the waters of investigation into safe, caring, nurturing, healthy and resiliency building environments.
- For further reading on KINCARE and one of the major contributors to this growing and disturbing demographic Children: Real & Lasting Victims of Familial Violence – The Alcohol & Other Drug Connection.
- For further reading on Community Resiliency go to Building of Demolishing Community Resilience – Changing the Narrative.
By Dalgarno Institute Communications Team
Kinship Care | Victorian Auditor-General´s Report
All children have the right to grow up happy, healthy and safe in a stable, caring environment. If a child's home is unsafe due to the risk of violence, abuse or neglect, DFFH may need to place them in an alternative care environment. Under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (the CYF Act), if a child needs to be removed from their home, DFFH should consider placing the child with an appropriate family member or other person significant to them before considering other placement options. (Page 13)
- OOHC in Victoria If parents are unable or unwilling to keep their children safe at home, the state’s OOHC system provides alternative care for them. While some children are placed in this system for only a few days or weeks, others spend many years in it.
There are 3 main types of placements:
- foster care, where trained carers provide care
- residential care, where children live in community-based care homes
- kinship care, where relatives or other familiar people in a child’s life provide care.
Kinship care is the fastest-growing placement type in Victoria.
Available information indicates that:
- over 70 per cent of all children in Out Of Home Care (OOHC) live with a kinship carer.
- between 2017 and 2021, the number of children in:
- OOHC grew by 25.2 per cent from 7,571 to 9,498
- Kinship care grew by 33.2 per cent from 5,577 to 7,429. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly over-represented in kinship care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria are 20.1 times more likely to be in kinship care than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. (Page 14)
One of the aims of the new model is to promote stability and reduce the likelihood of children entering into residential care. However, DFFH has not determined what a stable placement is, collected baseline data to compare placements to, or assessed its progress against intended outcomes. This means that DFFH cannot show if the model is achieving its objectives. It also does not understand how the new programs introduced in the model, such as First Supports, may be impacting the stability of kinship care placements. (Page 39)
For complete report Kinship Care – Victorian Auditor General Report