Out-of-home care is provided to children and young people who are unable to live with their own families. Foster carers take on the responsibilities of a parent for a period of time, to provide a safe family environment for children and young people needing care.
Children and young people may be placed in out-of-home care for many reasons.
Care is usually provided by foster carers but can also be in residential care homes and sometimes other arrangements.
All of this care is called out-of-home care and is regulated by the Office of the Children's Guardian. We have standards of care that agencies providing or supervising care are required to meet.
The standards include that children remain connected to significant people and places in their lives.
Oversight of out-of-home care
In NSW, there are a number of government agencies involved in the out-of-home care sector:
- The Office of the Children’s Guardian is the regulator of out-of-home care agencies
- The Department of Communities and Justice funds these agencies to provide care
- The NSW Ombudsman handles complaints about community services, which includes out-of-home care, and
- The Advocate for Children and Young People also has a role to improve the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people in NSW.
Role of the Office of the Children's Guardian
We make sure that:
- Agencies are accredited to provide out-of-home care to your child
- Agencies meet the Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care
- We also oversee investigations if a reportable allegation is made against a care worker.
Family is Culture review
We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are over-represented in the out-of-home care system.
In 2019, Professor Megan Davis undertook an independent review into out-of-home care in NSW in relation to Aboriginal children.
We welcome the Family is Culture review which highlighted to us areas for improvement with the out-of-home care system, including that it is complex for Aboriginal families to navigate.
In response to the Review, we established the Family is Culture team within the Office of the Children's Guardian. Part of their program of work is to evaluate the government’s progress responding to Professor Davis's review.