The Safe Home for Life reforms were introduced in October 2014 following legislative changes that focus on providing children and young people with permanent, nurturing, stable and secure environments. 

These changes provide clear guiding principles for the permanent placement of a child or young person.  There are also new timeframes in which the Children’s Court must make its decision.

A decision for every child entering out-of-home care (OOHC) must consider the following options, in this order:

1. Restoration
Can the child safely be restored to their parent/s? Restoration to family is always the preferred outcome if it can be safely achieved. 

2. Guardianship
Is there a family member who can become the legal guardian for the child, or if the child has been in long-term placement with a carer, is that carer interested in becoming a legal guardian for the child? Under a guardianship order, a child or young person is no longer considered to be in foster care or out-of-home care but in the independent care of their guardian.

3. Open adoption (only for non-Aboriginal children)

Adoption is a permanent order made by the Supreme Court of NSW.  Adoption transfers the rights and responsibilities for a child from the child’s birth parents to the adoptive parents. Open adoption means that there is openness to discuss the adoption with the birth family and a relationship between birth and adoptive families can be formed through contact.

4. Parental responsibility to the Minister – final orders
Where a child cannot be restored, and there is not a potential guardian or suitability for open adoption, then the child is placed on long term orders in the care of the Minister until the age of 18, and a long-term foster care placement is made.

For further information on the Safe Home for Life reforms please go to the Family and Community Services (FACS) website.