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For carers and children

Key projects to support successful transition include Aboriginal capacity building, carer authorisation and recruitment, and the Referral Management System

Your questions

Why do I have to move agencies?

The NSW Government has begun expanding the non-government sector’s role in providing out-of-home care (OOHC) services. The intention is that each child in statutory care and their carer will be supported by a non-government agency.

Research shows that children and carers get better support and services with non-government agencies. The transition also gives Community Services caseworkers more time to work with the most vulnerable families to help prevent their children going into care.

Hundreds of children and young people and their carers across NSW have now moved to a non-government agency.

For more information about the transfer process for carers, read OOHC Transition of Community Services Carers.

Who does the transition affect?

The transition only affects children in statutory foster care and statutory relative/kinship care. Children who are not in statutory care will not need to transfer.

Statutory care is a situation in which the Children’s Court makes an order placing a child or young person under the parental responsibility of the Minister for Family and Community Services. It includes foster care and relative/kinship care.

Statutory care does not include care situations where there is no Children’s Court order or where there is an order allocating full parental responsibility to a carer.

If you’re unsure about whether the child or young person in your care is in statutory care, please check with your Community Services caseworker, local Community Services Centre (CSC) or regional Carer Transfer Assistance line (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday).

When will I need to move?

Timing will vary from area to area, and depends on what agencies are operating in your local area, what placements they have available and the requirements for completing the case management transfer.

It’s expected all non-Aboriginal children and their carers will transfer to non-government agencies over the next five years. For Aboriginal children, the transfer will take place over the next 10 years as more Aboriginal agencies open and grow.

Community Services has engaged AbSec to establish more Aboriginal agencies so Aboriginal children have access to more culturally appropriate placements, through the Aboriginal capacity building project.

Contact Community Services to discuss your next steps.

Can I choose the agency to transfer to?

Your agency choices will vary depending on where you live and the number of agencies in your local area. It will also depend on what type of services local agencies provide and how many placements they can provide.

In some towns, only a few agencies will be available, and your choice will be limited. You’ll need to talk to Community Services to learn more about which agencies are offering placements so you know which are ready to welcome carers and children from Community Services.

If you are caring for a child with a disability or an Aboriginal child, your choice of agency will be specific and tailored to best meet the needs of the child and provide support for you as the carer.

Only agencies accredited by the NSW Children’s Guardian can provide placements for children in statutory care. To be accredited, the agency must meet the NSW Standards for Statutory Out-of-Home Care.

Contact Community Services to discuss your next steps.

How does transfer take place?

When you transfer to a non-government agency, so does the case management for the child in your care.

A meeting will be held between you and the caseworker to discuss transferring. This is a good time to ask questions – discuss the child’s case plan, your needs as a carer and any concerns you may have.

The Community Services caseworker and agency caseworker will work with you to ensure the transfer happens smoothly.

Will I need to be authorised again as an agency carer?

Yes, but you won’t start from scratch. Community Services will provide the new agency with information and documents from your file to make the transfer and authorisation process quicker and easier. You’ll need to sign a consent form for Community Services to release this information.

The information on your file helps the authorisation process and assists your new agency to understand the needs of the child in your care and your needs as a carer. A caseworker from your new agency will visit you to discuss this.

This process will result in you becoming an authorised carer for your new agency rather than Community Services.

Will my allowances change or be affected?

For most carers, the amount you receive is unlikely to change. However, it’s important to discuss the details of allowances and services offered by the agencies you’re considering.

The needs of the child will be assessed as part of the transition, which may result in a change to the allowance or expenses paid. Talk to the new caseworker about the needs of the child identified in the case plan and ask how specific costs will be covered.

The child in my care is Aboriginal – what does this mean for us?

All Aboriginal children and young people in care must be placed in accordance with the ‘Aboriginal Child Placement Principles'. This means Aboriginal children should be placed within family or kin, other Aboriginal carers in their community, or if that’s not possible, with Aboriginal
carers outside their community.

Only if these options are not available, an Aboriginal child may be placed with non-Aboriginal carers with cultural support and planning.

The aim, over time, is for Aboriginal children to be cared for by Aboriginal carers, supported by Aboriginal caseworkers from local Aboriginal-managed agencies.

All Aboriginal children transferring from Community Services must be placed with an Aboriginal agency, or with a mainstream agency in partnership with an Aboriginal agency.

Aboriginal children and young people and their carers will transfer as soon as a local Aboriginal agency is established and able to accept placements. This will depend on where you live and whether any Aboriginal agencies are established yet.

In most regions, new Aboriginal community-controlled agencies will be coming on board over the next few years. For now, if no Aboriginal agency is available in your area, you and your child may remain with Community Services.

What if I want to adopt?

If you are at an early stage of an adoption process where adoption is being explored, you are still able to move to a new agency. However, if you have begun a formal adoption assessment, you won't be asked to move. Talk to the caseworker if you have questions about adoption.

Where can I find more information?

  • Talk to your Community Services caseworker or local Community Services Centre to find out if you’re eligible to transfer.
  • Contact your regional Carer Transfer Assistance line
  • Ask the Community Services caseworker about the next steps and what agencies are offering services and have availability for you and the child or young person in your care.
  • Attend a carer information session if there’s one in your area. These are organised by My Forever Family NSW – call 1300 782 975 for details of local sessions.
  • Talk to Connecting Carers NSW on 1300 794 653 or the Carer Support Team at Aboriginal Statewide Carer Support (AbSec) on 1800 888 698.
  • Read articles about the transition in the carer support magazine Fostering Our Future.
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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019