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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

Overview of carers and children

The NSW Government has begun transferring out-of-home care (OOHC) service provision from the government to the non-government sector. Our aim is that all children in statutory care will be supported by a non-government agency.

The safety and wellbeing of children and young people in OOHC is a shared responsibility within our community. Government, agencies and carers all play important roles in ensuring children receive the care and support they need.

A number of significant inquiries into the NSW OOHC system have taken places, and recommendations have been made on how to improve the system to deliver better outcomes for children in care. These have included the Usher and the Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW inquiries.

The findings and recommendations of these inquiries have demonstrated the need for the OOHC system to change to better meet the needs of children, young people and their families. These recommendations have been supported by the NSW government and endorsed for implementation.

Core to the government’s endorsed implementation approach is the transition of statutory OOHC to the non-government sector.

The transition recognises NGOs are well placed to provide the support services children, young people and carers need. Simultaneously, it gives Community Services caseworkers more time to help the most vulnerable families and prevent their children coming into care.

To date, hundreds of children and young people and their carers across NSW have moved to a non-government agency.

Benefits of transferring

For most children in care, transferring to a non-government agency will cause little disruption to their daily lives. Moving to a new agency won’t mean a change of address, and children can still see siblings, family and friends as they do now.

Out-of-home care agencies are growing and welcoming Community Services carers on board. By the end of the transition, most carers in NSW looking after children and young people in statutory care will be supported by a non-government agency.

Some of the benefits non-government agencies can provide to children and carers include:

  • better and more-regular access to a caseworker to support kids and carers
  • support and training for carers
  • case plan reviews – where the caseworker will work with you to support the child or young person’s needs, including health, education and special needs
  • clear processes in place to resolve issues when there are disagreements
  • access to programs such as mentoring, cultural support, homework centres, disability programs, camps, school holiday activities, youth programs.

In the future, children and young people entering statutory care for the first time will go to a carer at a non-government agency.

You can find out more about agencies providing out-of-home care services in your area at www.myforeverfamily.org.au.

Transfer steps

Out-of-home care agencies are growing and welcoming Community Services carers on board. By the end of the transition, most carers in NSW looking after children and young people in statutory care will be supported by a non-government agency.

Some of the benefits non-government agencies can provide to children and carers include:

  • better and more-regular access to a caseworker to support kids and carers
  • support and training for carers
  • case plan reviews – where the caseworker will work with you to support the child or young person’s needs, including health, education and special needs
  • clear processes in place to resolve issues when there are disagreements
  • access to programs such as mentoring, cultural support, homework centres, disability programs, camps, school holiday activities, youth programs.

In the future, children and young people entering statutory care for the first time will go to a carer at a non-government agency.

You can find out more about agencies providing out-of-home care services in your area at www.fosteringnsw.com.au.

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.

OOHC Contacts

Carer Transfer Assistance lines

Hunter & Central Coast: (02) 4985 1558
Metro Central: (02) 8303 6376
Metro South West: (02) 8713 7982
Metro West: (02) 935 41607
Southern: (02) 4222 8467
Northern: (02) 6686 1990
Western: (02) 6937 9456

Aboriginal Statewide Carer Support

Provides support, information and advice for Aboriginal foster and kinship carers, including carer support groups.

1800 888 698
www.absec.org.au

Community Services Centres

A list of phone and fax numbers and addresses for Community Services Centres (CSCs).

My Forever Family NSW

Provide support and information to carers, plus details about training.

1300 782 975
www.myforeverfamily.org.au

CREATE Foundation

Supports children and young people in care.

www.create.org.au/nsw

NSW Commission for Children & Young People

A Government agency that advocates for children and young people in NSW.

www.kids.nsw.gov.au

The Children’s Guardian NSW

Provides information on how agencies are accredited in NSW.

(02) 8219 3600
www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019