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Adoption and guardianship - advice for caseworkers
We encourage all caseworkers to help guide a foster parent, or parents, who wish to adopt the child in their care if it is in the best interests of the child.
You are central in supporting open adoption and can lend support by engaging in early permanency planning for the child or young person you are case managing.
What is Adoption?
Adoption permanently transfers all the legal rights and responsibilities of being a parent from the child's birth parents (or anyone with parental responsibility for the child) to the adoptive parents.
In New South Wales ‘open adoption’ is law and means a child must be supported to remain connected to their birth family and cultural heritage. Open adoption recognises that children often benefit when both their families (birth and adoptive) remain in contact with one another.
Open Adoption Hotline
The Open Adoption Hotline has been established to help carers and others learn more about the adoption process. The hotline is 1800 003 227.The Hotline operates between 9am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Guardianship is for a relative or kinship carer (or sometimes an authorised foster carer), who is considering seeking long-term full parental responsibility for a child or young person through an order of the NSW Children’s Court.
Under a guardianship order, a guardian takes on full parental responsibility of the child or young person, making all decisions about their care until they reach 18 years of age.
Adoption gives a child a sense of belonging which lasts beyond the age of 18. It represents a permanent emotional and legal commitment to the child through their childhood into adulthood.
Adoption also ensures a child or young person receives continued support as they transition to independence with the emotional, financial and practical assistance that a permanent family can provide.
Most contemporary research shows that adoption provides a more stable placement option than long-term foster care.
Adoption prevents the need for placement changes for foster children which can have serious long term impacts on them.
Research shows that unpredictability and uncertainty in foster care are the main factors contributing to insecurity and anxiety in children.
Choosing to adopt can also prevent abrupt endings to a young person’s care when they turn 18.
When a foster parent or couple decide they wish to adopt the child in their care they should first read the Fact Sheet on out-of-home care adoption and discuss it with their caseworker.
FACS caseworkers have a full range of resources outlining the necessary steps which are available on the internal FACS casework practice website.
Caseworkers from non-government organisations should contact their Districts FACS Regional Adoption Caseworker to access the resources needed to undertake the process.
Resources and Best Practice
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies and the Centre for Community Welfare Training provide some useful resources, training and information regarding out-of-home care in NSW – including adoption.
The Institute of Open Adoption Studies leads quality, independent research into open adoption.
In late 2015, an Open Adoption Forum was hosted for all stakeholders in the out-of-home care sector to share their experiences of adoption in NSW.
The Open Adoption Forum Report ‘The Future of Open Adoption in NSW’ outlines the barriers to adoption and details how the NSW Government is addressing the issues.
The Open Adoption Hotline (1800 003 227) has been established to help those seeking more information.