Liberal Government expanding permanency options in South Australia

The Liberal Government is proactively consulting on the practice of open adoption from care as one of a range of permanency options in South Australia available for children and young people.

Key stakeholders, adoptees and children and young people will be consulted in the coming weeks to gain their insight on a new permanency policy position, recognising that a permanent and stable home is critical to a child’s wellbeing and development.

The State Government is aware of the views of the Aboriginal community about adoption of Aboriginal children and young people and accordingly, will not be pursuing adoption for those children and young people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle will continue to provide the framework for permanency planning for Aboriginal children and young people.

Currently, there are no legislative barriers to adoption from care in the Adoption Act 1988 – it is rarely used as an option.

Consultation with stakeholders will consider current permanency options in South Australia including reunification, kinship placements, guardianship orders until 18 years, Long Term Guardianship and adoption from care.

Stakeholders will be asked to consider the permanency hierarchy in South Australia and what options might be pursued, for whom and in what time frame. They will also be asked whether financial support should be offered to adoption arrangements and the best way to include children and young people in permanency planning.

Over the coming weeks and months, the Department for Child Protection will progress drafting a new policy document, that will allow open adoption as a genuine option in the permanency pathway in South Australia.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said permanency and stability was an important factor in the developmental outcomes of children and young people.

“All children and young people deserve a safe, stable and loving home,” said Minister Sanderson.

“This is why the Liberal Government is proactively signalling to the community and the sector that open adoption can be part of a suite of permanency options for our vulnerable children and young people.

“In South Australia, there have been no adoptions from care for at least five years and permanency planning practice does not embed adoption as an option.

“Even if this new policy direction helps just one child, it’s worth pursuing.

“It’s important to note, this policy shift is not a silver bullet. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that suits all of our children and young people in care.

“The Liberal Government is making sweeping changes to our early intervention and prevention system, with the aim of stemming the flow of children coming into care.

“However, for many children who come into care, there is no option for them to be safely reunified with family and these children deserve a right to a forever family.

“Permanency and stability is an important factor in the developmental outcomes for children and young people in relation to their health, academic achievements and interpersonal skills.

“We are committed to ensuring that, where possible, and in the best interests of the child, children and young people have the opportunity to form secure, long-term relationships with their carers that will support them to thrive and reach their potential.”

Permanency and early decision-making is a key element of the new child safety legislation that came into full effect in October 2018.

In recent years, the Department’s main focus for permanency has been Long Term Guardianship.

Limitations to Long Term Guardianship include legal arrangements ceasing on a young person’s 18th birthday.