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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, the permanent placement principles will guide how we provide children and young people with a safe and stable home.

Under the Permanency Support Program, which started 1 October 2017, a child or young person will have a case plan with a goal to have a safe and permanent home within 2 years of entering care. The preferred order for the permanent placement of a child or young person is:

  • keeping them in, or returning them to, their family (preservation and restoration)
  • guardianship
  • open adoption (for non-Aboriginal children)
  • parental responsibility to the Minister.

The permanent placement principles provide a guide for casework and decisions by the Children’s Court. The department must demonstrate to the court that it has considered each of the placement options.

The Permanency Support Program info sheets for children and young people may help in explaining this to the child or young person being placed in out-of-home care.

Aboriginal placement principles

Aboriginal children and young people are much better off if they are living in a permanent, safe home with relatives or kin, in community and on Country. That's why keeping Aboriginal families together safely is a priority.

The Aboriginal placement principles focus on keeping Aboriginal children and young people within their families and communities.

The general order of placing Aboriginal children and young people is within their:

  • immediate biological family
  • extended family
  • local Aboriginal community
  • broader Aboriginal community.

This approach of family preservation and restoration is supported by New South Wales child protection laws.

Family preservation and restoration

Family preservation involves working with parents as early as possible and providing them with intensive support to help keep children and young people at home safely.

Restoration is reuniting a child or young person with their parents or kin whenever it is safe to do so. It is the preferred permanency option if a child or young person is placed in out-of-home care while their family is supported to strengthen their parenting.

More information about Family preservation and restoration


Under a guardianship order, a child or young person is not in foster care or out-of-home care but in the independent care of their guardian. A guardian can be a relative or kinship carer, a family friend or an authorised carer who has an established and positive relationship with the child or young person.

If a child or young person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or from a different cultural background to their guardian, they will still maintain connections with their culture and community. They will have a cultural support plan that identifies their cultural needs. Guardians follow this plan and encourage and facilitate the child or young person to participate in cultural activities and events.

Open adoption

When a child or young person cannot return to the care of their parents, and a guardianship order is not appropriate, open adoption should be considered before placing a child into foster care.

Adoption is not usually considered suitable for Aboriginal children, however legislation allows for the adoption of Aboriginal children as a final preference after parental responsibility to the Minister. Importantly, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles still apply.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019