Restoration: bringing your child home
What has to happen for my children to come home?
You can find out what needs to happen for your children to come home from the Restoration Plan. The law says a Restoration Plan must be made when:
- the Children’s Court is involved, and in the opinion of the court, or the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) it may be possible for a child to go home
- FACS has arranged a temporary placement for your child
- you have arranged care for your child through a non-government fostering agency for 4 weeks or more and the plan is for your child to return home
- the court has allocated parental responsibility for your child to FACS or another carer, but restoration is to be considered at a later time.
If you are working towards restoration of children to your care you should:
- have a copy of the Restoration Plan
- understand what the Restoration Plan says you have to do
- have had your views considered when the Restoration Plan was developed.
The Restoration Plan
The Restoration Plan must cover:
- what needs to be different before FACS believes it would safe for your child to come home. This is sometimes called ‘outcomes’ or ‘goals’
- services that can be arranged by FACS or the Children’s Court to help your family
- how long you will be assisted to work for the restoration of your child.
How long will it take for my child to come home?
The time it takes depends on your family’s situation, and also on the age of your child. For some children it could be a matter of weeks, but for others it could take longer. The Restoration Plan should explain how long it might take for your family.
Usually the amount of time children spend with you and at home will gradually increase. You may start with day visits, then move on to overnight or weekend stays. Young children especially are best off if they spend their early years in the care of the person who will be with them as they grow up. This means they need to go home as soon as possible.
The time taken for a baby’s Restoration Plan may be much shorter than for a school-aged child. However, no child benefits if they go home before their parents are ready. It's important that when children go home, they are able to stay home.
What happens if I can’t meet the outcomes set in the Restoration Plan?
At set times, caseworkers involved with your family will review progress towards the Restoration Plan. The law says there must be reviews at least every year, and more often in the first year after children enter foster care.
If it seems the plan is not working, it may be possible to make changes. This might mean trying different ideas, or involving different services, to get the results, so that your child can be safe at home. The time frame in the Restoration Plan is meant to be a guide.
If good progress is being made, but a little more time is needed, it's possible for the time to be extended. If Restoration Plan isn’t completed, a plan may be made for your child to stay in care. Usually contact between your child and family can continue, even if your child cannot come home.
What can I do to give my children the best chance of getting home?
- Hang in there, even if it’s tough. Tell yourself you can get there in the end.
- Know what is in the Restoration Plan. If you are confused, or worried about the plan, talk to a caseworker or another worker you trust about your concerns.
- Do what you say you are going to do. That shows your child, and other people, that you can be trusted. Children grow up fast, so the time to get started is now.
- You don’t have to do it on your own. There are people out there who can help you, even if you don’t find them straight away.
- When you see your children, try to do things that you'll be able to keep doing with them when they go home. Remember that presents and expensive outings don’t count as much as your child having a good time with you.
What should I tell my child?
- Tell your child that you love them.
- Let your child know that they have not been placed away from you as a punishment.
- Be realistic and honest. Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep.
- If there are workers who are helping you, let your child know that you and your child are part of a team.