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If the Department proposes a permanency goal of restoration, guardianship or adoption, the application seeks an short-term care order (STCO) (section 45(1)(c)) for a maximum of up to 24 months.
The court may allocate aspects of parental responsibility to either the Minister and/or another suitable person (for example, a relative) for a period specified in the STCO (section 79(9)). It may not be necessary for the Minister to hold parental responsibility when the Department and the court determine it can be held by another suitable person.
The Department seeks an STCO when the permanency plan is:
The period for which an STCO may be made by the Children’s Court is up to 24 months unless there are special circumstances warranting making a longer order (section 79).
The period of the STCO is the period necessary to achieve the permanency goal, after considering the care plan, evidence and submissions of all parties. An STCO may be a period of:
The 24 month period for an STCO is measured from the time of making the final order.
An STCO provides greater accountability. When a court has made an STCO, but the approved permanency goal has not been achieved within the timeframe, the Department will need to bring the matter back to court. The Department provides evidence of reasons why the permanency goal has not been achieved in the period of the STCO and seeks other appropriate orders.
Important: Except in special circumstances, an STCO allocating parental responsibility to the Minister is for a maximum period of no more than 24 months.
Adoption and Permanency Services maintain a pool of families dually authorised as proposed adoptive parents and carers and can therefore assist with seeking a suitable placement option. These carers have already been assessed by the department as suitable to adopt.
If the Department is assessing the permanency goal, an interim order allocating interim parental responsibility is sought. A PSP provider with primary case responsibility supports the Department in assessing the permanency goal. For example, by:
By seeking only an interim order, the Department can later propose a permanency plan to best meets the child’s needs:
The court may allocate aspects of parental responsibility to either the Minister and/or another suitable person (for example, a relative) for the period specified in the order.
The period specified in an interim order is any period determined by the court as necessary for further assessment to occur, having considered submissions by all parties and evidence filed in the proceedings.
If a Children’s Court registry declines to file (stamp and seal) the application for an interim order only, the Department seeks an STCO as well as an interim order. If this occurs, the Department notifies Legal Services by emailing the Department’s Legal Inbox (AllocationsDCJLegal@facs.nsw.gov.au):
19 Feb 2023
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.