Making sure that caregivers feel valued and supported is essential to ensuring they are able to provide the best possible care and support to enable young people to lead successful lives. Caregiver satisfaction is also central to retaining carers and achieving stable placements and permanency.
Last year we undertook our first national survey of caregivers to help us to learn more about them, their perceptions and experiences, and their support and training needs. The survey was designed in consultation with the New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation and was distributed through Care Matters. More than 720 caregivers responded to the survey. Although this response rate of 21% is not a representative sample, the survey has given us valuable information and insights.
The enthusiasm that caregivers have for their role and the commitment they have to the children in their care is evident throughout the survey. There were many comments about how caregiving enriches the lives of both caregivers and children in care, and caregivers strongly believe that they make a positive difference to the young people’s lives. The survey also underlined the importance of the support that caregivers receive from a variety of sources, including family, social workers and support groups.
The feedback also highlighted areas of concern and frustration. Caregivers told us that they would like more information and for Child, Youth and Family to be more responsive to their needs. They also identified a need for greater access to support services for children and young people, and more help with managing challenging behaviour.