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Increasing permanency for children in out-of-home care

Double the number of children in safe and permanent homes by 2023 for children in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care.

Child hugging parent

Why is this important?

All children deserve a safe and stable home.

We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and protecting them from risk of harm, abuse and neglect. In Australia, each state has laws to keep children safe and to make sure their needs are met. In NSW this law is the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.

Our first priority is to work towards keeping families safely together. We want to support families with the services they need so that children and young people can stay safely at home, or return home after a break. Where this is not possible, we will use the permanent placement principles to ensure that a child or young person has a safe, loving and permanent home.

How are we tracking?

Through our focus on early intervention and targeted programs to keep children with their families, NSW has reduced entries into care by over 40% since 2015-16. NSW now has the lowest number of children in care in twelve years and leads the nation in adoptions for children who have been in out-of-home care, with a record number of adoptions in 2018-19. 

We continue to work hard to ensure we find safe and permanent homes for vulnerable children. In 2019-2020, more children exited out-of-home care into permanent arrangements than in our baseline year (2018-19). Over 1100 children and young people achieved permanency in safe loving homes, with record numbers of guardianship and open adoption orders. To reach our target, we aim to raise this to at least 1313 per year (on average over 4 years).  

Download the Increasing permanency for children in out-of-home care data information sheet (PDF, 143.34 KB)

What are we doing? 

Providing permanency for children and young people is vital. Evidence demonstrates a permanent, safe and loving home gives a child or young person a better chance at leading an independent, successful life as an adult. We are currently rolling out new strategies, and reforming existing practices, to ensure we are providing children and young people with a safe place to call home. Some of the ways we are doing this include: 

Improved practice and investment in evidence-based preservation programs has kept more children safely at home with their families, contributing to record low entries of children into out-of-home care. We are evaluating existing preservation services with recontracting of services to follow. 

We are improving permanency planning for children entering care through early decision-making, prioritised casework, reviewing legal processes and using data to drive greater accountability and performance.  

We are intensifying efforts to achieve guardianship and adoption for children already in long-term care through permanency goal reviews where appropriate. Each year, every child in care has a review to determine whether permanency can be pursued if that is in their best interests.  

Under the Permanency Support Program, introduced in 2018, the government is working in partnership with the non-government sector to identify the best permanency goal for children in out-of-home care, and to attain that goal within 2 years.

This program is one of the most significant changes made to the NSW child protection and out-of-home care systems in decades. The program brings together government and non-government partners as part of a new vision in child protection and out-of-home care.  
The Permanency Support Program has 3 goals: 

  1. Fewer entries into care by keeping families together. 
  2. Shorter time in care by returning children home or finding other permanent homes for more children. 
  3. A better care experience by supporting children’s individual needs and their recovery from trauma. 

Aboriginal children are over-represented in the out-of-home-care system. For the first time, operational guidelines for Aboriginal case management have been developed by Aboriginal communities, which helps drive culturally appropriate preservation and restoration for more children. We are working to set up improved mechanisms for family and community involvement in decision making for Aboriginal children.  

To better support the sector, the government has invested in the Permanency Support Learning Hub which was launched in November 2019. Through practice resources and training, the hub is helping to build the capacity of the sector to promote permanency.

All of these changes will help to ensure more children are in safe and loving homes. Find out how we are already making these changes in the lives of children.

Do you need help?

If you are a child, family or carer looking for support, you can access information online.

What can you do?

Could you provide a loving home for children who are unable to be cared for by their family? 

Apply to be a carer 

Pathways to permanency including guardianship and adoption

What guardianship is and how you could become a guardian

Permanency for Children

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