Carers 'exploiting' baby bonus

UNSCRUPULOUS foster carers are exploiting the baby bonus scheme by taking in babies for long enough to receive the $4000 payment before sending them back to permanent care, according to extraordinary new allegations.

A whistleblower has told The Sunday Telegraph some NSW carers have a "very high turnover'' of babies and are claiming the Government bonus several times a year, as well as other allowances.

The source, who previously worked for the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS), claimed the money was not being spent on the babies as intended.

"I was just so appalled when I realised the foster carers who were looking after babies in the short term, until they were placed (in permanent care) or returned to their biological mothers ... that these people were claiming baby bonuses every time they were given a new baby to look after,'' the source said.

"Some of these carers have a very high turnover of babies, so would claim bonuses multiple times a year.

"I was at a meeting for foster carers ... and a Centrelink officer even visited to explain how foster carers could claim the baby bonus.

"These foster carers would take the bonus - in addition to the normal foster care benefits - and buy baby clothes and a cot and so on, and they would keep it all until the next baby arrived. They would never pass on the (purchases).''

Federal Community Services Minister Mal Brough said it was DoCS' responsibility to ensure foster carers were screened to ensure they didn't exploit the system.

"It beggars belief that DoCS could possibly allow a foster carer to take vulnerable children, when they have any suspicion about their motivation,'' he said. "If this is occurring, then DoCS should deal with it immediately.''

Mr Brough's department administers the baby bonus, which is set to increase to $5000 next year.

Government rules state those eligible for a baby bonus must be the parent of a dependent child, or a carer of a newborn child within 13 weeks of the child's birth and likely to continue to have care of the child for 13 weeks or more.

In the case of pre-adoptive foster care, "where carers receive (government) reimbursement ... the pre-adoptive foster carer would not normally be eligible for baby bonus.''

Source : http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/carers-exploiting-baby-bonus/news-story/8b561e212c497433e1b0f340e243db0f

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