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PSP overview

What is the Permanency Support Program?

The Permanency Support Program is the name for changes we’re making to child protection and out-of-home care from 1 October 2017.

The main change is a shift from a ‘placement-based’ service system to a child- and family-centred service system that focuses on individual needs and helping families to change.

This aims to give more children and young people safe and stable homes in which they can thrive, and reduce the number of children who enter or remain in statutory care for long periods.

The changes have four main components:

  • permanency and early intervention principles built into casework
  • working intensively with birth parents and families to support change
  • a new approach to the recruitment, development and support of guardians, adoptive parents and other carers
  • Intensive Therapeutic Care system reform.

How is the Permanency Support Program supporting vulnerable Aboriginal children and young people?

Under the Permanency Support Program we're continuing to work with Aboriginal service providers to ensure Aboriginal children maintain a close connection with their families, community and culture.

FACS, in partnership with AbSec, is committed to strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal service providers so that they are better equipped to keep Aboriginal children safe and cared for, in their families or with kin.

This includes expanding the Aboriginal workforce across different supports and services that vulnerable children, young people and their families and kin might require, to enhance prevention, preservation and restoration to families and kin where possible.

All service providers must work with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal family and kin to support family preservation in the first instance, using culturally safe evidence-based tools like Family Group Conferencing.

Where restoration is not possible, guardianship can be an important pathway to permanency for some Aboriginal children. Legislation also allows for the adoption of Aboriginal children and young people when the making of an adoption order is clearly preferable and in the best interests of the child to any other care arrangement. The Aboriginal Child and Young Person Placement Principles apply.

FACS, in partnership with AbSec, is developing the pilot for an Aboriginal guardianship support model so it’s easier to achieve stable, loving and permanent homes with family and kin through guardianship.

How do we know the Permanency Support Program will achieve its objectives?

The Permanency Support Program is based on evidence from other jurisdictions.

In Illinois, New York and Tennessee, out-of-home care populations dropped significantly through the use of performance based contracts for NGO partners, a continuum of supports, and a focus on permanency.

We’ve also modelled the Permanency Support Program on recent changes to contracting in the Australian Capital Territory.

How did the Permanency Support Program originate?

The Permanency Support Program originated from a number of initiatives to increase exits, reduce entries and ensure children and young people receive quality services and supports.

This includes the introduction of performance- and outcomes-based contracts to encourage our NGO partners to focus their efforts on achieving safety, permanency and wellbeing outcomes, and ensure that the services they provide align with the permanent placement principles introduced into the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 on 1 October 2014.

The Independent Review of Out-of-Home Care (‘Tune Review’) in 2016 confirmed that these initiatives should set the groundwork for a broader reform to:

  • better fit the system to the needs of children and young people
  • enhance collaboration between FACS, NGOs and families and kin
  • invest more up front to support families and kin keep their children at home.

The Permanency Support Program draws all these objectives together under the one reform.

When will the Aboriginal Case Management Policy be released?

The details of the Aboriginal Case Management Policy are still being negotiated. Once this is finalised, the policy will be released. It is expected that this will be available by 1 July 2018.

What resourcing is there for the Aboriginal sector to better meet the needs of Aboriginal children and young people? In the interim, what strategies are in place to support quality Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal agency partnership and joint work?

FACS has commissioned 10 accredited Aboriginal agencies to deliver permanency outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people. These agencies have implementation plans that outline:

  • agency responsibility
  • milestones and dates
  • resources and support needed to achieve each goal.

There are also seven established partnerships between accredited non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal agencies. These partnerships aim to boost capacity and independence in the Aboriginal sector.

The NSW Government has committed to a gradual transition of OOHC from FACS to the non-government sector since March 2012 under the Keep Them Safe: A shared approach to child wellbeing initiative. One of its principles is that Aboriginal children and young people are supported by Aboriginal carers and caseworkers within accredited community-controlled Aboriginal agencies.

The OOHC transition is being driven by the Aboriginal Industry Development Strategy and is designed to:

  • steadily increase the number of contracted places in Aboriginal agencies
  • support Aboriginal agencies to recruit new carers and receive new entrants
  • increase Family Finding efforts
  • reduce Aboriginal entries into OOHC.

An Aboriginal Case Management Policy and Practice Guidance are also being developed to guide how practitioners case manage Aboriginal children and young people. These documents are expected to be used by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations.