Every child deserves a safe and nurturing home, whether that be with parents, extended family or kin, or through guardianship or open adoption.

Permanency and meaningful adult attachments are necessary for a child to experience a normal developmental trajectory.

Placement decisions in NSW made by child protection authorities – when a child is unable to live safely at home – are guided through a hierarchy of decision making or permanent placement principles.  The principles cover preservation and early intervention (keeping family together so that children are not removed), restoration (working with a family, community services and supports to ensure children can return to a nurturing and stable environment), guardianship and open adoption.

Find out more about the paths to permanency on the Department of Communities and Justice website.

What are the permanent placement principles?

In the interest of child wellbeing, the NSW government has developed permanent placement principles to guide placing a child or young person into a safe and permanent home after being removed from their family.

The first step is to work intensively with the birth family to address the issues that led to their child’s removal, with the aim of restoring a child to their birth family.

The primary goal of permanency planning is to return the child or young person to the care of their parents or legal guardian as soon as it is safe to do so. This is called ‘restoration’ and involves a high level of engagement from the birth family or legal guardian.

The Children’s Court must decide within a defined time frame if restoration is possible.  If it is not possible, then one of the following alternative permanency pathways will be considered, according to the child’s situation and needs:

  • guardianship with a relative or family member, or to another suitable person
  • carer adoption (usually for non-Aboriginal children)
  • parental responsibility to the Minister (long-term foster care)

Children and young people in care who experience stability and permanency are more likely to develop healthy and long-lasting emotional attachments, a strong sense of identity and connection, and achieve better life outcomes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Permanency is equally as important for the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

For Aboriginal children and young people, the aim is always to place the child with family or kin, keeping them connected to their community. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle ensures that when children are not able to live at home, they remain connected to their family and culture.

Read more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and how My Forever Family NSW supports both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal carers.