Foster care, guardianship and adoption
About foster care
Foster care is provided to children and young people who are unable to live with their own families. Foster carers support families by caring for children while parents get help to change.
For a period of time, foster carers take on the responsibilities of a parent to provide a safe, nurturing and secure family environment for children and young people needing care.
Foster carers are often in contact with the parents of the child or young person in their care. They also get involved in the decisions and planning for the child's care along with family and other important people in the child or young person's life.
By working together, every child and young person will be in a safe, loving and permanent home in which they can thrive.
How are carers authorised?
To be an authorised foster carer with DCJ or with a non-government organisation it will be determined based on the outcomes of background checks on all adults in the household including a criminal record check, DCJ history and personal and medical referee checks. Having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a carer. The nature of the offence will be taken into consideration as part of the assessment as a potential carer.
Code of Conduct for authorised foster carers
Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2012, the Minister of Communities and Justice is empowered to require all authorised carers comply with a code of conduct. The code of conduct for authorised carers aims to foster stable and positive relationships between the child or young person, their carer and the designated agency.
Safety and permanency support: Family preservation, restoration, long term care, guardianship and open adoption
In NSW, the government and the law help to protect children from harm and keep them safe. Keeping a child together with their family safely is the priority. If home is not safe for them, we have to find somewhere else that is. Children who can not live safety at home enter out of home care.
To do this, DCJ provides the Permanency Support Program (PSP). Permanency means children and young people live in a safe, permanent home and are cared for. It also means staying involved with friends, family, community and culture. Permanency gives children a better chance at living happy and independent lives as adults.
We are working hard to support children to have permanency and make sure they do not miss out on the good things that come with a caring, permanent home. DCJ caseworkers and workers from other organisations will help children together. The program helps meet a child’s individual needs.
When a child or young person from a multicultural background is not safe at home, DCJ will do its best to find a safe place for them with carers who support their culture and religion, where this is important to the child.
Ways to a permanent home
There are different ways a child can have a safe and caring home. These are called pathways. The permanency pathways are:
Family preservation: This means keeping a child with their parents, family, or kin, when it is safe. Keeping a child safely at home with their family is an important part of the PSP and a priority for DCJ. Living with family helps children feel like they belong. It gives them the best chance for being happy and healthy when they become an adult.
Restoration: This means returning the child to live with their family when it is safe to go home. Keeping children safe at home with their parents, and giving parents the help they need, is important. We understand parents can make changes so they can provide a safe and caring home for their child.
Long term care: This is where a child lives in a permanent care arrangement with a foster carer, or relative. Long-term care is for children who cannot live safely with their own parents.
Guardianship: This is when a person or people other than the parent has the legal responsibility of caring for a child until they reach adulthood. The Children’s Court makes a guardianship order when it decides that a child cannot live safely with their parents. Guardianship orders may also be made when both parents agree.
Open adoption: This is where a child becomes a legal member of another family for life. Adoption is called open because it does not close the connection between children and their birth families. They continue to meet with people from their birth family. They learn about their family background, including their culture.
Cultural Care Planning
DCJ policy is that all children from a multicultural background who enter out of home care require a cultural support plan, so that they develop a positive cultural and racial identity and that this is supported during their placement.
DCJ will seek to provide a culturally matched placement, with carers from the same cultural background to support their connection to culture. Cultural care planning also recognises that a child or young person has the right to practice their or their birth family's religion and spirituality even if it is different from that of their carers.