What is voluntary out-of-home care?

Last update: 03 February 2022

Voluntary out-of-home care is an arrangement between a parent and an organisation for their child to receive overnight care away from their usual home.

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    Types of care

    Voluntary out-of-home care includes:

    • overnight stay in a group home, respite, hotel or Airbnb environment
    • short-term accommodation through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
    • overnight stay with another family in a 'host family' arrangement
    • longer-term residential care
    • camps that focus on respite or behaviour support
    • bail assistance line program.

    Care may be a one-off emergency placement or regular or long-term care.



    Voluntary out-of-home care promotes a family-centred approach, where the focus of support is on the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people. To uphold these principles, agencies must:

    • involve children, young people and their families in decisions about their care
    • assess the needs of a child, young person and their family to ensure voluntary out-of-home care is the most appropriate type of care
    • ensure children and young people are placed with peers of compatible age, developmental capacity and interests
    • maintain children and young people’s family relationships while they are in care
    • work collaboratively with other organisations to ensure consistency in care
    • respect the cultural needs of children, young people and families
    • have a fair and easy process for children, young people and their families to provide feedback.


    Role of the Children’s Guardian

    In NSW, organisations that provide or arrange voluntary out-of-home care must be registered with the Office of the Children’s Guardian.

    We register and monitor organisations that provide or arrange this kind of care under two key pieces of legislation:


    The Children's Guardian:

    • regulates agencies to ensure they comply with legislation
    • monitors and assesses policies, procedures and practices of agencies
    • monitors the number of times a child or young person accesses voluntary out-of-home care services.


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