An article published in The Advertiser on 20 June 2019, featuring comments from CF&KC-SA CEO Fiona Endacott.

Carers in call for access to support

FOSTER carers want the Child Protection Department to allow them to deal directly with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to speed up support for children in their care with disabilities.

Currently carers must put applications and correspondence through the department, which they say causes delays, while biological parents deal directly with the NDIA.

The department says its “oversight is in the best interests of children” but the peak body funded to represent foster carers is urging it to consider allowing capable carers to manage their foster child’s NDIS package.

Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA chief executive Fiona Endacott said not all carers wanted the responsibility but some had raised it with her. “A number of carers are very, very keen to manage plans,” she said.

“Effectively carers are having to navigate two systems (because) all the decisionmaking and approvals need to go through the department, so carers are saying that there are delays in accessing supports.”

Ms Endacott said carers who tried to go direct to the NDIA were told they must wait for the department to contact the agency.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the department said carers with long-term guardianship of a child could manage their NDIS plan, but they represent a small number of total carers.

She said the department worked closely with foster carers to understand what children needed and made “every effort to progress NDIS plans as a matter of priority”.

The department was “committed to a partnership approach” and “does not intend to delegat this responsibility solely to carers”, she said.

As of mid-May more than 28,000 South Australians are receiving funding via the NDIS, including 620 children.

Another 2500 people are eligible but awaiting plans.

The SA Government is paying $752 million towards the NDIS for next financial year.

Tuesday’s State Budget included $6.7 million to complete the transition from state disability funding to the national scheme, including $1.6 million to support a “small number” of people who are ineligible for the NDIS or are “the subject of issues still to be resolved at the national level”.

Another $5.5 million will establish a unit to respond to the findings of an upcoming royal commission into abuse of people with a disability.