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Vic campaign to attract foster carers

Victoria is desperately seeking foster carers to take hundreds of children out of residential care.

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A 2015 report found a child in residential care was sexually assaulted every day on average, and the Children’s Commissioner called for half the 500 children in care to be taken out.

Children’s Minister Jenny Mikakos said targeted care packages had helped get the numbers down.

“To this point about 74 children have actually been removed out of residential care into home-based care options, foster care, as well as living with family members through kinship care, or even returning back home,” Ms Mikakos told AAP on Thursday.

A $3.2 million recruitment campaign for foster carers is highlighting the options people have to make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Louise Gilbert and her husband have been respite carers for eight months, looking after eight-and-nine-year-old siblings every second weekend and in school holidays – and they’re loving it.

“We met a girl at a barbecue who was doing some foster care and she told us about her experience. We just thought it makes sense, let’s do it,” Ms Gilbert told AAP.

“A lot of people don’t realise you don’t have to be a foster carer full time.

“You can do it on weekends, you can do it on an emergency basis, or longer term if you want.”

Ms Mikakos said Victoria needed foster carers from diverse backgrounds, same-sex couples, single people, retirees, working families and many others.

“You don’t need to be a superhero to be a foster carer,” she said.

“You just need to have an open mind and open home.”

A $31.4 million fund to boost care allowances came into effect on January 1.