The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment Act 2018 commenced on 4 February. What does this mean for children and carers?
The Act, and the changes it brings, are intended to more quickly identify the best outcome for each child or young person, reduce the numbers of children who come into care, and to streamline finding permanent homes for those kids who can’t stay safely with their families.
How the changes help to keep kids safely at home
By assisting vulnerable families to address their issues, more will be able to keep their children safely with them or have them restored as soon as possible. Changes include:
- prioritising access to services for families at risk
- enabling families to make their own plans to address their issues
- allowing restorations to happen more quickly if a child has been removed
What the changes mean for foster and kinship carers and guardians
Streamlined court processes will benefit carers who wish to become guardians.
- when it has been agreed by all parties that guardianship is the best option for a child or young person, the Children’s Court can now formalise a guardianship order without a hearing.
What the changes mean for kids in out-of-home care
Of course, the main purpose of the Act is to improve outcomes for children and young people. Some key changes that will impact them are:
- children and young people’s views will be prioritised by the court
- shorter-term court orders mean that kids spend less time being uncertain about their future and decisions about where they will live permanently will be made more quickly
- the Court can now look at whether a child will be able to live safely at home in the next 24 months if the steps in the restoration plan are achieved
- children can now be restored to their parents up to 12 months before a court order involving restoration expires (previously it was 6 months).
What about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and their families?
The changes are intended to enable more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids to stay safely with family, kinship groups or community.
To find out more about the new changes to the child protection system visit the FACS website.
Watch FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter explaining the key points.