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NSW Therapeutic Care Framework

The Therapeutic Care Framework (TCF) provides guidance on supporting children and young people


The NSW Therapeutic Care Framework (TCF) provides guidance on supporting children and young people. At the centre of the framework is trauma-informed care. The framework will guide NSW service providers, caseworkers, carers and other stakeholders to provide the best possible individualised Therapeutic Care for children and young people.

The TCF is consistent with major changes to the child protection system under the Permanency Support Program , which focuses on recovery from trauma so that children and young people spend less time in intensive Out Of Home Care (OOHC) services and achieve permanent homes where they can thrive.

Best practice Therapeutic Care can change a child or young person’s life

Children and young people in OOHC have often experienced trauma, abuse, neglect and/or are faced with severe adversity before being placed in care. They may have also suffered after separation from their families or others close to them. This may lead to poor outcomes later in life: developmental, behavioural or mental health issues.

Children and young people’s care needs are different, and every OOHC journey varies throughout their time in care. A child or young person’s needs should therefore be continually assessed, to allow the flexibility to increase or decrease the level of support and services required as their care needs change. This can make a big difference to the lifelong impacts of trauma, and greatly influence a person’s lifelong outcomes once they exit care.

The Framework sets the principles for Therapeutic Care

The TCF outlines a set of 16 Core principles for providing Therapeutic Care (i.e. casework and care) to children and young people, to ensure their individual and often complex needs are met, given the trauma they have experienced.

The TCF focuses on:

  • developing consistent service delivery of evidence-informed Therapeutic Care (across the OOHC sector) to improve outcomes for children and young people in care
  • providing quality care environments that support positive, safe and healing relationships and experiences, to address individual and complex needs and work towards addressing the trauma experienced
  • children and young people with receiving the appropriate level of care, ‘in the right way, at the right time’ (i.e. throughout their continuum of care)
  • Therapeutic Care (trauma-informed casework and care) being provided to children and young people, that is individualised, holistic and culturally respectful and responsive
  • building capability across the OOHC sector to enable assessment, and measurement of outcomes, and to determine whether children and young people in care are receiving quality Therapeutic Care, treatment and support.

More information

See the Framework and publications or Questions and Answers for more information.

The framework was developed in partnership between Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA), The Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec), OOHC sector representatives and academics in the field of child protection. The draft framework documents also went to public consultation in November/December 2016. See the Sector and public consultation section for further information.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019