The child services system is known for its short comings in mant places around the world. There are so many children needing care and a safe place to live, but so few social service workers. So, there is a constant backlog. With many children suffering from aggressive tendencies, as a result of the lack of support, many are sent from home to home. One child, a thirteen-year-old boy from Australia took his own life after he was turned away from 18 different foster homes.
He went Through 18 Foster Care Homes
In 2016, a young boy of 13 years committed suicide while he was in Australian state care. His full name was Zhane Andrew Keith Chilcott. He was sent around between many different foster care homes before he finally gave up on life. In the end, he lived in 18 different homes, each one sent him off to the next one. He never made a long-lasting connection with the foster care homes he stayed at, and the support a child of his age needed was seriously lacking. Then, his final foster care home was in a residential care unit at Morphett Vale in Adelaide’s south. This was where he committed suicide.
After his death, an investigation took place to find out his reasons. He did leave a note behind, which stated that he only wanted to live with his mother and not be in foster care. Additionally, the coroner, David Whittle, said the state had failed to support him appropriately, which added to “the cumulative effect”. According to his judgment, this added to the reasons Zhane took his life. “The lack of oversight exposed Zhane to risks that he should not have been exposed to. Including the potential for abuse,” said Whittle.
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An Unsigned Case Plan
Zhane had spent six years at one foster care home with an Adelaide family. However, he was later removed from that house after reports of physical and sexual abuse came about. After that, his case workers found a stable home for him with a man called Mr. Rimes that seemed like a great match. However, this could not continue as the man needed financial support from the state in order to care for Zhane. “He was happy and thrived in this placement,” he said.
Unfortunately, the state decided not to support Mr. Rimes financially. So, Zhane had to leave, and the social workers had to find him a new placement. Ironically, the state placed him in a care facility which is more expensive than Rimes had requested. After his death, it was found that Zhane’s case plan was left unsigned. This was a clear reflection of the state’s lack of care. Whittle said this “reflects how out of touch Zhane’s care team was with his needs in the months leading up to his death, and that his needs were being neglected and his case left to drift”.
Foster Care Department “Failed“
David Whittle spoke about the foster care department’s failures in terms of Zhane’s care. “The department failed by … neglecting to facilitate regular and meaningful contact between Zhane and his biological family, and failing to keep Zhane connected to his family, community, and culture.” he added, “The failure to facilitate meaningful family contact between Zhane and his biological family was not only distressing from Zhane’s perspective, but was also a breach of the department’s obligations.”
Additionally, Whittle said that any child, not just Zhane, in the foster care system needs regular and meaningful contact with their biological family. He said it should happen at least once every 12 months.
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- “Coronial inquest reveals ‘catastrophic’ breakdown in teen’s state care before suicide.” ABC. Ethan Rix. April 6, 2023.
- “Heartbreaking reality behind boy’s death after years in foster care.” News.com . Holly Hales. April 7, 2023
- “All the missed chances to save sweet Zhane, 13, before he took his own life after being bounced around 18 different foster homes.” Daily Mail. Tim Dornin. April 6, 2023.