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Turner: Labour talk is cheap on foster care

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Turner: Labour talk is cheap on foster care

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner is critical of the Labour-led Government's lack of action in properly looking after foster carers and kinship carers, while claiming to pay 'tribute' to caregivers as New Zealand marks Foster Care Awareness Week.

"Labour needs to put its money where its mouth is, and honour its manifesto pledge made in September last year to pay kin-carers such as grandparents at the same rates as other foster carers," said Mrs Turner.

"I have met with policy officials involved in raising the kinship carer rates and discussed the relevant issues, and urge the Government to finally move forward and pay kinship carers at the same rate as foster carers.

"Minister Ruth Dyson says that caregivers are 'not fully recognised, valued or appreciated'. I fully agree, but it is the Government that is not valuing these carers by providing appropriate support, particularly to kin-carers.

"Child, Youth and Family foster carers and kinship carers alike need more support to continue their service in this most crucial role, such as increased access to respite care.

"Caregivers selflessly take up the slack left behind or unable to be taken by others, but this is often a stressful job and many of the children they care for have behavioural difficulties.

"Official figures show that over 23% of Child Youth and Family foster children lived in 3 or more foster homes in the 12 months to September this year. 156 children were passed around 6 or more homes in that 12 months, with dozens being shifted to 8, 9, 10 even 11 different foster homes in a year.

"This shows the urgent need for better respite care to become available for foster families, to give these foster parents and other children some time off when they need it - particularly those families who have taken on particularly difficult foster kids.

"The best tribute that can be given to mark Foster Care Awareness Week, starts with Labour finally honouring the pre-election promise it made to grandparents raising grandchildren and providing more support and respite opportunities for these caregivers," said Mrs Turner.

ENDS

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