Kinship care

Families come in many shapes and sizes and they all have their unique challenges. We support an inclusive environment where people of all genders and ages, people living with a disability, First Nations people and people from LGBTI and CALD communities feel empowered to share their experiences and ideas; knowing that these will be valued and respected. Our staff are well-informed and sensitive to lived experiences. They understand the complexities and challenges people face when accessing services. We are committed to working with you to understand your needs.

Sometimes children can’t live with their parents. This can be for many reasons.

Kinship care is the care provided to a child by relatives or a member of the child’s social network when the child cannot live with their parents. Kinship carers include:

  • ‘kith’ – members of the child’s social network, such as a friend of the family
  • ‘kin’ – relatives.

Our Kinship Care Program

Bethany Community Support’s Kinship Care program supports children who are unable to live with their parents.

Our focus is on supporting children to reach their full potential. We support and work with children and young people as well as families, carers, networks and child protection services to ensure a stable, safe home environment. 

Group support for kinship carers

Bethany runs kinship carer support group meetings, called Nurture Until They Shine (NUTS).

NUTS meetings are a great way to meet other kinship carers in the local area in a supportive environment that is relaxed and informal. These groups are open and welcoming and can provide a place to find:   

  • support around caring for children who have been dislocated from parents, and who may have experienced trauma
  • support for people on their journey of learning to be a carer, like strategies for taking care of the family unit
  • support around relationships with the child or young person’s family and other networks
  • help with practical things, like finding camps and holiday programs for children
  • information about other services that might be available to help and how to access them.

Our kinship carer support group meetings are free and held monthly in Geelong and Colac on Wednesdays.

Information and advice for carers

The Kinship Care Information and Advice Service assists kinship carers, children, young people, and the professionals who support them. We can help provide up-to-date information about community services available and support groups that can be accessed.

This is a free service for all kinship carers, professionals, members of the extended family and the broader community.

How to access this service

The service is provided at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services’s Child Protection Service.

You can still contact us for information about the Kinship Care Program even if you haven’t been referred to us via Child Protection. Contact the Bethany information and advice line on 1300 557 611 or email kinshipcare@bethany.org.au

FAQ

What is kinship care?

Kinship care is care provided to a child by relatives or a member of the child’s social network when the child cannot live with their parents.

How do I become a kinship carer?

In most instances, you are asked to become a kinship carer or you can offer to provide care for a child whom you know may need care. A member of the Child Protection team from the Department of Health and Human Services will contact you if there is a child in your family or networks in need of care. Potential carers go through a comprehensive assessment including a Working with Children Check and a Police Check.

What is formal and informal care?

Formal care refers to situations where child protection is involved and a child has been removed from their parents care. There may be a Children’s Court order in place or this may be a voluntary arrangement between the parents and Child Protection. A kinship carer is entitled to a Carer Payment from DHHS in addition to material aid to support the placement such as bedding and clothing etc.

Informal care is when child protection are not involved, but a relative or other person in a child’s social network is caring for a child. This includes situations where a parent may drop off their child to a relative and ask them to care for the child for a period of time. 

Is being a kinship carer temporary or permanent? 

The goal is always for children to reunified with their parents. When a care arrangement is in place, a plan is usually developed that details changes parents need to make to keep the child safe, nurtured, stable and secure. The reunification plan can last for 2 years. If after 2 years the parent has not made lasting changes, child protection may make a decision for non-reunification. However all cases are unique and may differ depending on the circumstances. Even if a child is not reunified with their parents and continues to live with a carer, arrangements may be made to help the child maintain a relationship with their parents outside of living under their parent’s care. Kinship Care can be short term or can be permanent under a Permanent Care or Family Court Order issued via the Childrens or Family Courts. 

How can a kinship care worker support me as a carer?

A kinship care worker is there to provide practical and emotional support to the carer and the child. Your kinship care worker will listen to your frustrations and guide you through the complexities of the kinship care and child protection system. Kinship care workers are trained to understand the effects of trauma and how this impacts on a child’s behaviour and development. The worker can help you to understand and manage these behaviours with the child. The worker can also make referrals to counselling programs specific to the child’s needs and acts as an advocate to support you or the child to receive the intervention they require.