I've been doing a bit of surfing (internet only, I'm still waiting for the bikini fairies to come and transform me), and I finally found this page at the Office of Child Safety - http://www.childsafety.qld.gov.au/performance/child-protection/ongoing-intervention/out-of-home-care.html
It gives actual real data on the number of kids in out of home care in Qld from 2005 to June 30th 2009. I've been trying to get this information for a while now, and someone I was talking to last night asked if I knew how many kids there were in care in Queensland.
I told him that at a guess, I would say about 10,000 for the state, taking into account the fluctuations and lengths of placements at any one time.
Unfortunately, I wasn't far off the mark, with about 7,500 kids being cared for by foster, kinship or residential care in Queensland alone. And this only reflects the kids in care on the day the survey was done!
The very next thing I searched for were the numbers of kids leaving care or returning to their families. This number is a lot lower at approximately 1,700 exiting care as of the 30th June 2009.
On top of these figures I discovered that there are only about 4000 families/individuals in the whole of Queensland who are identified as being able to care for kids in their home. When you think about the fact that there are over 7,500 kids needing a home (if only temporarily), I'm sure you can see why the system is over stretched and carers are over loaded.
In total there are over 32,000 kids in Australia who needed out of home care last year. The numbers are rising each year.
What can we do? Stay tuned for the next blog, when I will discuss a few ideas I have about getting kids back into a safe family environment. Some of it may be a little controversial, so I'm going to run it past a few of the project team members first.
This table was take directly from the website mentioned above and I have not altered it at all.