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Jill Worrall (New Zealand)

Jill Worrall has had many roles in Foster Care in New Zealand, where she was born.
She was raised in kinship care for the first half of her childhood, was a foster carer for 20 years, a foster care social worker, a manager of a  foster care agency and a senior lecturer at Massey University in Social Work for 11 years.  She retired from University to work in Tajikistan, with Orphan and Refugee Aid on a de-institutionalisation project, funded by the Asian Development Bank. Her role was writing a social work training programme teaching doctors, teachers and carers to find children’s biological families, and undertake child and family assessments with a view to returning the children home.  The project was later taken over by Tear Fund and many children have been returned. 
She has been involved in the New Zealand Foster Care Federation since 1976 and has held many roles, - Journal Editor, Education Officer, Deputy Chair and Chairperson.  She has written training manuals, worked on a foster care training certificate and diploma, and been a trainer for the Federation and government in Foster and Kinship Care.
Jill has a BA in Education and Sociology, a Master in Social Work and a PhD in Social and Cultural Studies, researching the role of women in caring for children in need of care and protection in New Zealand since 1840.  In 2012 she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Social Work.  She now practices as a consultant in social work and foster care.

Why do you believe in IFCO’s Mission?

As a foster carer in New Zealand in the 70’s an 80’s I was frustrated by policies and practices in the foster care field in New Zealand.  Children stayed in care for years, experienced too many placements and rarely saw their families.  I became a foundation member of the New Zealand Foster Care Federation and we rattled the cages of Government to get change.  Overseas research showed these problems were international. At that time IFCO was just beginning as a response to this and New Zealand was represented at the first conference.  In 1983 I attended the Conference in Leuven and was excited by our work in writing recommendations to the UNCROC agreement. Since then, I have been an individual member of IFCO. The next conference was in New Zealand and I chaired that Conference. The belief of IFCO that every child deserves a family, the work on several international committees to push for de-institutionalisation, education for foster carers and social workers in foster care and the holding of International Conferences pushes IFCO to the forefront of foster care policy and practice. I have attended most conferences.  This is my second term on the IFCO Board.

Could you describe briefly your latest activities as a Board Member?

I am excited by the 2017 Board elected in Malta and the drive to become more internationally and intentionally effective.  In 2017 I presented a paper at the Autobiology Conference in Cyprus on my writing of an PhD thesis on Foster Care and the effect on self.  In November, I presented a paper at the Resilience Conference in Capetown with Myrna McNitt on achieving resilience in foster care. This year I have presented at four Universities in Michigan on kinship care social work practice and have promoted IFCO at all of these. I currently chair the IFCO Research and Publishing Committee and we are working toward publishing the Malta Conference Proceedings.  My research in New Zealand on Kinship Care has been the first in our country and I am happy to share New Zealand’s work in Family Group Conferences and foster care.

Where do you see IFCO in 5-10 years?

While New Zealand is far-flung at the end of the world, it has been a world leader in policies and practice for children in care.  As described above, I have been part of that journey and in my work and teaching in New Zealand and overseas have promoted IFCO and the need for a strong relationship. However, in spite of that, the work of IFCO has occurred largely in the Northern hemisphere and less in countries in the Asia Pacific, where the care of children is variously carried out according to cultural norms.
It is my hope that in the next 5-10 years IFCO can be more and more involved in these countries, particularly where there are many street children and institutionalisation.  There are opportunities for education, training and research in these countries, especially the less affluent, and my hope has been that IFCO will forge these relationships and offer services. It is this opportunity to change the lives of many children that drives me.

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