The future insurability of Out of Home Care (OOHC) will continue to remain difficult and for insurers associated risks are very complex. The issue goes beyond the fact that there may be a significant number of historical incidents. The reality today is that there is a range of ongoing material risks currently not being adequately addressed. The OOHC support system is being let down and the risk of harm and abuse continues to remain high.
For our communities, governments and insurers alike, risk mitigation for OOHC will continue to be a major challenge. In addressing this challenge, there are some key actions that would help go some way to reducing the inherent risks in Out of Home Care and Foster Care services.
Actions required to reduce risk in the sector
- A cultural shift to believe the testimony of children
- A cultural shift in Government Departments to prioritise the actual ‘best interests of the child’ rather than the parent – stability for children in a loving and safe home – a parent who is both actually ‘willing and able’. ‘Good enough’ parenting is not good enough.
- A huge investment in human resources to the development of a dedicated “Children in Care” division within Federal and State Governments
- Mandatory annual personal safety education for all children in care
- Mandatory child safety training for all foster carers (already happening in most States)
- Mandatory monthly Foster Friends visitor program (monthly check-in by children’s behaviour expert young staff) and an actual response to their findings
- Strong child protection by Government departments to communicate with schools and day care around children’s well-being & behaviours (changes in behaviour being the warning and window to trauma)
- Mandatory professional child therapeutic sessions with foster children to extract ‘their voice’ and ‘their opinions’.
- Effective governance and risk management frameworks in OOHC organisations with boards capable to govern for vulnerable people.
To some extent, some of this is already happening around the nation but more reflected in intent rather than by real changes. In practice, there is a lack of staff and quality foster carers, children’s voices continue to be ignored, early warning signs are not being recognised and testimony from professionals are not adequately actioned. Sometime, parents who are anything but ‘able and willing’ are permitted to retain custody of children – by the time the children are removed their level of trauma and abuse is life threatening.
Insurers, like Ansvar, have played a critical role in creating a major disruption to the systems of OOHC, raising awareness of the risk of abuse, the associated un-insurability of this area of care and the need for more effective risk mitigation strategies. Ansvar will continue to work with the industry to address the current shortcomings. It is our hope that the risk mitigation strategies listed above will go some way to highlighting the challenges and a genuine shift to possible solutions so that carers are adequately protected with the right insurance, children receive the services they need are well protected and fully supported to live their best lives.
Ansvar Risk is available to support you. Contact one of our Senior Risk Consultants at email@example.com