PERMANENT CARE - FOSTER CARE AND SPECIAL GUARDIANSHIP ORDERS
Fostering is the provision of temporary or permanent care for a child or young person who is in care of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (the Department) because they are in need of protection. When a child is removed from their birth family, the Department works with the family and supports them to make the necessary changes to provide a safe and nurturing home for their child. If a child cannot be safely returned to their parents, the Department will seek the most appropriate permanent care arrangement for the child.
To become a permanent foster carer, you need to apply and be assessed by the Department.
Protection Order (Special Guardianship)
There are provisions under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 for carers, in some cases, to assume parental responsibility of a child until they turn 18. The carer needs to have been caring for the child for at least two years. This is called a Protection Order (Special Guardianship).. The Order may include conditions about contact between the child and the child’s parent or other significant persons.
The importance of permanency for children has been well documented in child protection literature. It points to issues of attachment and children’s developmental needs and shows that instability has negative consequences for children’s healthy physical, emotional, and psycho-social development and learning. It is clear that children need specific, consistent and available parents to provide the love and structure necessary to engender feelings of safety, belonging and wellbeing.
In response to this research, the Department has implemented ‘permanency planning’, a process which limits the time allowed for a decision to be made about a child returning home or being placed in long-term care until they reach adulthood. Permanent foster care can lead to Special Guardianship Orders or Adoption - both provide a child with permanent care.
How do I become a carer?
Telephone the Department’s Fostering Services on freecall1800 182 178 for an information pack and you will then be invited to attend an information session where more details about fostering will be provided. After attending an information session, you will then be required to complete an Expression of Interest form and return it to Fostering Services. An assessor will then contact you and arrange a home visit with you.
Find out more about becoming a foster carer.