Launching the 2016 Western Australian Foster Carer Conference today, Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell paid tribute to the skills and generosity of the people who cared for some of the State's most vulnerable children.
"Foster carers are the bedrock of our out-of-home-care system and the vital role they have in the lives of the children they care for helps carry those children through some of the most challenging years of their lives," Ms Mitchell said.
"The theme for the conference, 'Connecting, Reflecting and Supporting Carer Families', provides an opportunity for carers to share their experiences, build skills, celebrate achievements, and explore ways to better meet the needs of children in care."
The Minister also announced the State Government would amend the Children and Community Services Act 2004 to support the recently launched Out-of-Home-Care Reform plan.
Under the changes, a court decision must be made about the legal future of a child within two years of them entering care, or three years in special circumstances.
"This will provide earlier certainty and stability for children in care, as well as the people who care for them," Ms Mitchell said.
"Providing children with a safe, permanent home gives them the best opportunity to heal from trauma and rebuild their lives."
Other legislative amendments will include greater accountability of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support to support a child's relationship with their family, including their siblings; their cultural connectedness; and increasing the responsibility of other government departments to prioritise the needs of children in care.
The Minister said she hoped the changes, along with other non-legislative measures announced as part of the Out-of-Home Care Reform such as greater support for relative carers; dual fostering and adoption registration; a new resource allocation system; and greater control of finances by carers, would support more people to become carers.
The WA Foster Carer conference is held at the Swanleigh Conference Centre, Middle Swan, and is supported by the Foster Care Association of Western Australia, Life Without Barriers, Accordwest, Key Assets, UnitingCare West and Lotterywest
Minister's office - 6552 5400