05/07/2021 | Rachel Sanderson MP

Our most vulnerable children and young people in care will be better supported through a new, internationally renowned specialised foster care program being piloted for the first time in South Australia.

The program, called Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO), is a partnership between the State Government and OzChild.

It will allow our most vulnerable and complex children and young people aged 12 to 17 the opportunity to live with a specially-trained foster carer who will provide full-time one-on-one support for about nine months.

Ultimately, the aim of the program is for the child or young person to return to family or a stable, long-term foster carer, rather than residential care.

The State Government has committed $3.8 million to trial the program over two years to support a total of 14 children and young people.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the State Government was committed to growing family-based care.

“We know that stability and permanency is vital for good outcomes for our children and this new state-first trial will give our most complex and vulnerable children and young people an opportunity to live in a loving, supportive and safe home,” said Minister Sanderson.

“Children and young people in care have often experienced significant trauma, abuse and neglect and finding the right foster care placement for them can be challenging.

“When we came into Government, we introduced Stability in Family Based Care, whereby carers and young people in family-based care are now supported financially until age 21.

“This Treatment Foster Care Oregon trial builds on our commitment to continue to find better and new ways to support children and young people in care.”

The TFCO program teaches children and young people interpersonal skills, coping strategies and problem-solving skills and encourages participation in sports and hobbies.

OzChild Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa Griffiths said the organisation is looking forward to working in South Australia.

“Wherever possible children and young people should live within families not in staffed residential care facilities, that’s why delivering this program is so important to us,” said Ms Griffiths.

“The South Australian Government’s commitment to investing in programs like TFCO, that are backed by research and demonstrate real and measurable outcomes for young people affirms an intention to not only improve outcomes for children but deliver positive returns for the whole community.”

The TFCO model has operated internationally for more than 30 years and is used in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Following recruitment and carer training, the first young people are due to be placed into the program in December.

To find out more about becoming a TFCO foster carer, visit ozchild.org.au

Background about TFCO:

  • The TFCO is for our most vulnerable and complex children and young people.
  • OzChild will work directly with DCP to help identify young people who are suitable for the model.
  • TFCO carers ideally have experience working with young people with complex behaviours, with qualifications including nursing, childcare workers, teachers, social workers, paramedics and emergency services.
  • Carers who take part in this program must not be working in any other capacity, eg TFCO will be their full-time job and they will be paid accordingly.
  • Carers who take part in the program will be trained and have access to a 24/7 support line.