The Department of Community Services (DoCS) says that allegations made in the media against one of the carers of the 6-year old child known as “Susie” have been thoroughly investigated but were unsubstantiated.
The allegations against one of the foster carers of ‘Susie’ were made in an article by journalist Claire Masters on 25 March 2008. The article, DOCS under fire as dying girl left with abusive carers, alleged “A dying five-year-old girl who is chronically disabled has been left in the care of abusive foster carers who are banned from caring for any more children.”
DoCS said they sought independent opinion from an external psychologist who was aware of the allegations. The psychologist, who also consulted other professionals involved in the child’s care, found the family “appear to be meeting (Susie’s) needs and there is no reason whatsoever to change her placement”.
The assessment found that the child’s needs were being met to a “high level” and that other services involved with her did not have any concerns about her well-being.
The carer who was the subject of these allegations no longer lives in the home where the child is.
DoCS has confirmed it is working very closely with this child and her carer. There have been six home visits since 1 February this year, the latest of which occurred today. All agencies and organisations have advised DoCS that the child is thriving and that they are impressed with the care being provided by her carer. The child attends school and receives a range of support and therapeutic services. DoCS said they will undertake a further review of her current placement.
“No children have been removed from this placement because they were at risk of harm. Other children placed with the family were only ever short-term, crisis or respite placements. One such child formerly in this family’s care moved to a new placement at the request of the carers, who were concerned for their own safety and wellbeing.”
Serious allegations against foster carers are reported to the Commission for Children and Young People. The terms “Category 1” and “Category 2” refer only to the nature of the allegation, not to whether or not it has been upheld or proven. DoCS wants the community to know that being the subject of an allegation does not necessarily preclude a person from being a carer because each investigation examines the specific circumstances of the allegation.