Carers are learning how to better advocate for the children and young people in their care and gain a deeper understanding of child safety laws, through formal qualifications being offered by Bradford Institute of Advanced Education in association with Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA.

Carers who are interested in participating in the course should contact Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA on 1800 732 272 or support@cfc-sa.org.au

Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA – the peak body for foster and kinship carers in South Australia – has supported more than 30 carers to complete a nationally accredited Certificate IV in Child Youth and Family Intervention and Diploma of Community Services. The Carers were supported to complete the training using a SA Government Subsidy (Work Ready Funding).

Carers who have completed the course will be recognised at a formal ceremony at Parliament House on Tuesday 4 February 2020, attended by Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson.

Foster carer Elly Charleston, who has provided long term, emergency and respite care for 12 years, signed up for the course to improve her understanding of the children she was caring for but after being made redundant from her job of 19 years is now using it as a springboard for employment.

“In preparation for my young man (in long-term care) hitting teenage years I signed up with Open Colleges to do a Certificate IV in Youth Work – only a few weeks later I came across the opportunity with Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA to do the Certificate IV and Diploma courses,” she said.

“Although I never set out with the intent of changing careers the Diploma has given me the skills to pursue my passion of supporting children’s social and emotional wellbeing in a more professional context.”

Elly said the course gave carers a better understanding of the child protection legislation as well as the role of the Department for Child Protection and how to feel more part of the child’s overall care team.

“The trainer did a great job of bringing together everyone’s experiences and it was very affirming to realise how much we already knew,” she said.

“I now feel more confident when speaking with social workers, National Disability Insurance Scheme service providers, school and other agencies and actually feel more respected now that I understand the system better and use the right language.

“I would highly recommend this course to any carers who are considering it. I just wish I had done it years ago as it has really opened up my horizons and will definitely assist with supporting the children in my care as well as giving me new career opportunities to help support our children in other ways.”

The course – provided through the Bradford Institute of Advanced Education – covers topics such as working with children and young people with complex trauma and attachment issues and needs, promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety and working collaboratively to maintain a safe environment for children and young people.

Foster and kinship carers who participate in the course must have at least six months experience as a carer.

Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA Chief Executive Fiona Endacott said the organisation was thrilled to offer the foster and kinship carer community an opportunity to gain Diploma qualifications based on their valuable lived experience.

“This Diploma qualification honours the commitment our carers have made to the lives of children and young people under guardianship, both now and into the future,” Fiona said.

Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said supporting foster and kinship carers in their important role was a priority for the department.

“Family based carers provide care to more than 85 per cent of the children and young people in care and we know that a family based setting is, for most children, the best environment for them to grow and thrive,” Cathy said.

“It’s important that we work together with carers, the peak body for carers – Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA – and our partner agencies to ensure we are providing a range of opportunities for carers to develop their skills and feel confident to be a strong voice in the child or young person’s care team.”