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Love to share … Janet Hughes with her adopted daughter Anna, 14.


Future adoptive parents will miss out on the $16,000 allowance for carers who adopt foster children. Photo: Heath Missen
LOVE, not money, was the reason Janet Hughes adopted Anna.
But a carer allowance paid to parents who adopt children in foster or out-of-home care has helped immeasurably with the costs associated with supporting the girl, now 14, who has special needs due to her having Down Syndrome and suffering from hearing difficulties and anxiety.
''There's a lot of kids out there. If people did not get this money, on their average wage they would not be able to adopt them,'' said the mother, from Clunes, in northern NSW.
But future adoptive parents were dealt a blow in the September budget when the O'Farrell government cut the $16,000 annual allowance paid to new carers who adopt foster children, effective January 1, replacing it with an annual $1500 post-adoption allowance.


The cut has caused huge anxiety among carers intending to adopt, and raised fears fewer would choose to do so in future.
Yesterday, the Minister for Family Services, Pru Goward, confirmed to the Herald the policy would not apply to those whose adoptions are being assessed or who formally declared an intention to adopt before the budget announcement.
''This change to allowances will not impact on these families, whose applications will continue to progress under the same financial arrangements,'' she said.
But foster carers who are not yet eligible to adopt their children were left bewildered by the decision, which was not publicised by the government, unsure of whether they would be able to claim the vital allowance or not.
Another foster mum, Fiona, who cares for three fostered siblings as well as her four birth children, said she was totally confused. She has so far declared the intention to adopt one of the children, who has a severe intellectual disability.
''Is it more important for these children to have stability or should we just save a bit of money in the short term?'' she said.
The opposition spokeswoman on community services, Barbara Perry, said the government's quiet move to extend the payments to some was not good enough.
''Children who come out of out-of-home care are often suffering from years of neglect, physical and emotional,'' she said. ''They are often in need of of extensive support.''
The allowance had been awarded case-by-case until 2008, when the former government made it universal.
In the two years after the policy was introduced, the number of out-of-home care adoptions more than doubled, from 22 in 2007-08 to 48 in 2009-10.
Ms Perry called on the government to reinstate the payments permanently.
''It's short-sighted policy which will undermine permanency planning to the great detriment of children who have already had an unequal start to life,'' she said.
Ms Goward did not provide an estimate of any savings provided by the policy when asked by the Herald. She said the department would work with families to identify support options based on the child's developmental needs.