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The Permanency Support Program provides tailored services to vulnerable children so that they can grow up in stable, secure and loving homes.

It is one of the most significant changes made to the NSW child protection and out-of-home care (OOHC) systems in decades.

The program brings together government and non-government partners as part of a new vision in child protection and OOHC.

Changes under the program began on 1 October 2017. Practices to further support permanency for children and young people and have been strengthened through amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and Adoption Act 2000 passed in November 2018.

The Permanency Support Program supports safety, wellbeing and positive life outcomes for children and young people in the child protection and OOHC systems in NSW.

Goals

The Permanency Support Program has three 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

Under the Permanency Support Program, caseworkers work with a child and the people who love and care for that child, to identify the best permanency goal - and to attain that goal within two years.  Achieving permanency for children and young people is the priority. 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.

Permanency

Permanency has three dimensions:

Relational permanency - The experience of having positive loving, trusting and nurturing relationships with significant others (parents, siblings, friends, family and carers).

Physical permanency - Stable living arrangements and the connection a child or young person has with their community.

Legal permanency - The legal arrangement for the child.

In NSW law, there is an order of preference for how a child or young person in the child protection or OOHC systems can achieve permanency.

The principles of placing a child or young person as close as possible to their family and community connections is also built into NSW child protection laws, the NSW Practice Framework and the Permanency Case Management Policy.

Working with non government organisation partners

Under the Permanency Support Program, FACS and service providers have a slightly different focus and set of responsibilities. However they must work together to identify, review and decide upon goals to secure a permanent home for a child or young person.

The Permanency Support Program means significant changes to the way we fund our service providers. New funding processes set out new expectations of the sector that include:

  • Working towards permanency from the time a child or young person enters care
  • Collaborating more closely with FACS and other services and supports to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

Components

There are four parts of the program which support children, young people and families to achieve permanency:

  1. Permanency and early intervention principles built into casework
  2. Working intensively with birth parents and families to support change
  3. Recruitment, development and support of carers, guardians and adoptive parents
  4. Intensive Therapeutic Care system reform

Relationship to other reforms

Safe Home for Life

The Safe Home for Life reforms were announced in October 2014. They strengthened the child protection system through legislative change, new policy and practice, and a redesign of how technology was used in child protection.

Safe Home for Life reforms made sure work was firmly focused on each child’s experience. Caseworkers were given the time, support and tools to work better with children, young people and families.  Permanency placement principles and guardianship orders were introduced for the first time, alongside a renewed focus on supporting open adoption where it best met a child’s needs.

The Safe Home for Life reforms helped strengthen our focus on providing stability for children in care. The Permanency Support Program builds on these reforms.

Their Futures Matter

Their Futures Matter is a cross-government reform delivering whole-of-system changes to better support vulnerable children and families. The reform was developed in response to an independent review into OOHC commissioned by the NSW Government and undertaken by David Tune AO PSM in 2015. The reform moves away from a placement-based system to one that addresses needs and positions children and the centre of everything we do.

A number of features of the Permanency Support Program form part of the whole-of-government vision captured by the Their Futures Matters reform. They include:

  • introducing child and family centred support packages and funding models
  • recommissioning Intensive Therapeutic Care
  • re-contracting foster care services and Aboriginal foster care services.
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Last updated: 18 Oct 2019