Caring about carers: Findings from a national survey of foster and relative/kinship carers

Foster and kinship care
Thursday 26 July, 1120 – 1130


Dr Lixia Qu
Australian Institute of Family Studies

This paper draws on recent research that explores the circumstances and needs of formal carers who look after children in out-of-home care (OOHC) so as to better inform government policies and practices to support these carers. The research involved a national survey of foster and relative/kinship carers that was conducted in 2016 by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Social Services and with the support of child protection jurisdictions. The survey collected data from over 2,200 carers and focused on the carer’s care experience; carers’ usage of and need for services and training; motivations and challenges as a carer; and personal wellbeing and family relationships.

This paper presents some findings from the study, with a focus on the characteristics of carers of OOHC children and their experiences of looking after these vulnerable children. The paper also examines whether foster carers and relative/kinship carers of OOHC children differ in their circumstances and thus have different support needs. The findings will shed some light on the circumstances of carers who look after the vulnerable children and provide an evidence base to better support them.