Renewed call for informal carer support as number of Tasmanian children living out-of-home rises

The number of children in out-of-home care when the Liberal party came into government in 2014 was 1054.

Kin Raising Kids secretary Frank Tyers, who is raising three of his grandchildren with his wife Geraldine, said benefits for formal carers needed to be broadened in Tasmania due to the state having a much higher percentage of informal carers than other Australian jurisdictions.

"There is a huge number of families and carers that are outside that gambit and they are not being considered at all," Mr Tyers said.

Mr Tyers attributed the rise in the number of children living in out-of-home care to family violence, drugs and alcohol.

"Kiddies are being affected by drugs and alcohol and being brought into a world where they are disadvantaged," he said.

He endorsed a call by Ms McLean for greater investment in the first 1000 days of a child's life, saying he agreed very much this early investment would reduce the number of children ending up in out-of-home care.

Mr Tyers said he was disappointed in the lack of action by the government in this sector.

He said Kin Raising Kids would continue to lobby for greater government support for informal carers and the group had now focused its campaign on the Commonwealth.

"We feel that we've gone as far as we can with the state government," Mr Tyers said.

A Tasmanian Council of Social Service spokesperson said practically implementing Ms McLean's recommendation to focus on the first 1000 days of a child's life would help Tasmania turn a corner.

"We can then begin working towards ensuring every Tasmanian child has the opportunity to live a good life," the spokesperson said.

"The Commissioner's report highlights a range of issues that are critical for Tasmania to address as the highest priority. A whole-of-government response will be the only way to improve outcomes for our children."

Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch said nothing was more important than the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

"That's why we developed the wellbeing framework referred to in the Commissioner's report, and have commenced important reforms that will gradually reduce the number of children entering the out-of-home care system," Mr Jaensch said.

"The Tasmanian government will be considering the report and its recommendations in detail but notes that the issues raised are not new and a lot of work is already underway to deal with them.''

A $51 million redesign of Child Protection Services Tasmania has already commenced and the launch of the Strong Families, Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line has allowed for a single service to link Tasmanians with government and non-government programs.

A government spokesperson said all families are able to access the Child Health and Parenting Service, with contact usually starting within 48 hours of being discharged from maternity services.

"Tasmania has a recommended schedule of regular child health checks between birth and four years of age. Each check is targeted at the particular stage of development of the infant," the spokesperson said.

"Parents can access advice and assistance to promote their child's healthy growth and development with information and assistance with such topics as breastfeeding, sleep and settling, immunisation, growth and development, dental care and speech and language."


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