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Paths to permanency

The permanent placement principles provide guidance on finding the best permanent home option for a child or young person. The principles cover preservation, restoration, guardianship, open adoption and parental responsibility to the Minister.

Family preservation

A priority of the Permanency Support Program is keeping children safely together with their families wherever possible. We work to achieve this through early intervention and effective family support.

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.

Tools to support parents keep their children safe

Family group conferencing

Family group conferencing is a family-focused, strengths-based program used mainly to resolve contact disputes or ensure that children and parents have support to enable the family to stay together. It gives families a stronger voice in decisions about their children’s care.

Family group conferencing has been shown to have a positive effect on family relationships. It helps:

  • improve communication within the family
  • reduce family conflict
  • keep children safe.

Participating in family group conferencing is voluntary. Our family group conferencing model includes information sharing, private family time and agreeing to a family plan. Private family time gives families time to make decisions about how they will ensure their child is safe.

Additional resources

Parent capacity orders

Under a parent capacity order, a parent must participate in a program, service, course, therapy or treatment to improve their parenting skills so they can provide a safe, nurturing home for their child.

Parent capacity orders reduce the need for DCJ to intervene by removing a child from the family home or deciding not to return a child to their parent’s care.

The Children’s Court can make a parent capacity order or DCJ can make an application if:

  • there is an issue with the parent’s or primary caregiver’s care for a child or young person
  • there is the potential risk of significant harm to the child or young person
  • it is reasonable and practical to make a parent or primary caregiver participate in a service, course or treatment program
  • there is an appropriate and available service, course or treatment program
  • it is unlikely the parent or primary caregiver would participate unless an order is made.

Parent responsibility contracts

A parent responsibility contract aims to improve parenting.

It encourages parents to set goals and agree to actions that reduce the risk of harm to their child. We ask parents to accept greater responsibility for the care of their child. This may include drug testing or treatment for substance abuse.

The contract includes details of how we support the parent to work towards positive changes in their life and how the contract will be monitored.

A parent responsibility contract can only be made if the parent agrees. It provides a structured process to help the parent attend services for their child’s benefit.

Parent responsibility contracts are registered with the Children’s Court. Because it is a legal agreement with legal consequences, parents will be given a referral to Legal Aid so they can get free, independent advice about it.

Parent responsibility contracts:

  • have a maximum length of 12 months. This allows parents to attend parenting courses or treatments and demonstrate they are no longer abusing substances.
  • can be made with expectant parents to reduce their child’s risk of significant harm after birth
  • require DCJ to set up contracts with parents before care proceedings start, when appropriate.

More information

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Last updated: 21 Oct 2019