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Permanency case planning helps the Department and PSP providers work collaboratively to achieve safety, permanency and wellbeing for vulnerable children – by keeping them with or returning them to family, arranging a permanent legal guardian, supporting open adoption or providing long term care as described in the permanent placement principles (section 10A).
Permanency case planning is a family-led, goal driven process. It includes ongoing conversations and observations with the child, their carers, parents, family/kin and other persons important to them. It helps parents and family/kin make a clear link between specific actions and behaviours and increasing the safety of their child.
For children already in long term care, permanency case planning starts with the child in their placement and considers stability, the child’s wishes, attachment to carers and connection to family/kin. Permanency planning considers how to maintain stability and attachment and connection to family/kin through guardianship and adoption (and long term care). When a child’s placement is no longer meeting their needs, a review of the possibility of restoration may be made as part of considering a child’s permanency options.
Permanency case planning does not occur at a single 'point in time'. However, it begins when the Department:
Permanency case planning is facilitated by a PSP provider to:
See PCMP resource - Checklist: Permanency Case Planning (PDF, 18.1 KB).
Depending on the case plan goal, case planning results in one or more case plans.
For children being assessed for or progressing to restoration, both a Family Action Plan for Change (Family Action Plan) and OOHC case plan are required.
A family’s Family Action Plan and a child’s OOHC case plan are developed and reviewed within statutory and policy timeframes.
A case plan and cultural support plan (for Aboriginal or CALD children) are all developed as part of case planning. If the child turns 15 years of age in care, they require a leaving care plan. See leaving care planning.
A behavioural support plan (if required) is one section of the case plan and aims to strengthen positive behaviours and reduce and prevent behaviours of concern.
A health management plan and personalised learning and support plan are also developed as part of case planning. See OOHC health pathways.
Providers use ChildStory Partner to report to DCJ the development and review of plans.
See PCMP Resource - List: case planning timeframes (PDF, 13.4 KB) and OOHC Standard 14: Case Planning and Review.
The Department is responsible for developing the Summary of Proposed Plan (SOPP) with the child, their parent, family and kin. The SOPP details the minimum changes the parent will need to achieve to address the child protection concerns. Changes identified in the SOPP can be made by the time the care plan is filed in the Children’s Court.
The Department files the SOPP within two weeks of the first Court mention of the application.
The Department shares the SOPP with the PSP Provider. The PSP Provider ensures the actions set out in the SOPP are linked to the Family Action Plan so both documents align.
A Family Action Plan is developed within 30 days of an interim order being made to support a child’s parents to make meaningful and sustainable change:
The PSP provider organises for the Family Action Plan to be developed (or if there is an existing plan when the child was not in care, updated). The Family Action plan is developed through a family-led process that involves the child, parents, family/kin, community, networks of support and the Department.
The Family Action Plan identifies family goals and sets out actions, support, responsibilities, timeframes, and the child’s experiences of the changes needed, to keep them safer.
For a child with a case plan goal of restoration, a Family Action Plan is developed within 30 days of an interim order being made or within 30 days from when the case plan goal is changed to ‘assess restoration’. The Family Action Plan is reviewed every 90 days.
An OOHC case plan is developed within 30 days of the child entering care and an interim order being made. This is to ensure every child in statutory OOHC receives the care and support they need to experience safety, stability, permanency, cultural and family connection and wellbeing. A case plan is a living document, it is developed with the child and their wider circle of family and people who are important in their life.
Case planning for Aboriginal children is developed through Aboriginal family-led decision making.
PSP providers are able to create the initiating (first) case plan for a child or young person in ChildStory Partner when they have primary case responsibility. Case plans are regularly reviewed by PSP providers in line with legislation, including when a significant change in the placement or other circumstances of the child occurs. At a minimum, case plans are reviewed at least annually. Every child’s case plan development and review are reported to the Department through ChildStory Partner.
PSP providers develop a cultural support plan for children who are Aboriginal and/or culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD). PSP providers collaborate with family and kin to develop a cultural support plan.
Cultural support plans for Aboriginal children are developed through Aboriginal family-led decision-making.
The cultural support plan is implemented to support Aboriginal and CALD children to build and maintain their culture and identity. It includes opportunities to participate in relevant activities and experiences that meaningfully build or maintain a sense of belonging and identity.
Cultural support plans are regularly reviewed by PSP providers. A formal review occurs at least every 12 months, usually as part of regular case plan reviews. Cultural support plan development and review is reported to the Department through ChildStory Partner.
PSP providers develop a leaving care plan for all young people who are in statutory OOHC for over 12 months, and are 15 years of age, or over.
Leaving care plans are reviewed regularly. A formal review occurs at least every 12 months. Early plans focus on the young person’s goals and skill development. As the young person approaches 18 years of age, the plan includes after care entitlements and details of who will do what, to provide assistance after they leave care. Every young person’s leaving care plan development and review is reported to the Department through ChildStory Partner.
See section on leaving care planning.
The Family Action Plan and the OOHC case plans are living documents, developed and reviewed with the child, their parents, family/kin, carers, and other people important to them.
Case planning for an Aboriginal child is the practice of meeting the child’s need for safety, stability, and cultural continuity, with a focus on permanency. It ensures proactive efforts are made to achieve restoration, where possible, and safely return the child to their family and community. Where restoration is not possible, ongoing case planning ensures proactive efforts are taken to achieve other types of permanency for the child. Case planning occurs in line with the Aboriginal Case Management Policy and includes:
Also see Aboriginal family-led decision making (PDF, 554.5 KB) factsheet, Aboriginal Case Planning – Safety, Stability and Cultural Continuity and Note on adoption.
When there is uncertainty or disagreement about a child’s Aboriginality, confirmation is needed to:
When uncertainty or disagreement occurs, practitioners seek legal advice, liaise with the nominated unit and consult with the child’s Aboriginal community.
Practitioners then take steps to confirm a child’s Aboriginality, using the following criteria.
An Aboriginal child is:
This is defined in section 4 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) and referenced in section 5 of the Care Act 1998 and in section 4 of the Adoption Act 2000.
This is in accordance with the decision in Hackett (a pseudonym) v Secretary, Department of Communities and Justice  in the NSW Court of Appeal. See Hackett: Confirming a child’s Aboriginality fact sheet
The Aboriginal Case Management Policy is applied to help determine a child or their family/kin’s Aboriginal identity. See identification and de-identification of Aboriginal children and young people.
Practitioners help a child and their family/kin determine whether they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, by exploring each family’s unique history and heritage.
Be aware, due to the historic forced removal of Aboriginal children (the Stolen Generations), and mistrust of the child protection system and its treatment of Aboriginal peoples, some Aboriginal people:
Do not make assumptions about Aboriginal identity or record a child’s or person’s Aboriginal identity as not Aboriginal as a default position.
Practitioners do not record a child or person’s Aboriginal culture or indigenous status based on the unsubstantiated opinion of another person. Instead, they make their own enquires to determine whether a child or person may be Aboriginal.
If a practitioner needs support in helping a family explore their cultural identity, an Aboriginal consultation can be arranged to help the family form links within their community. This can also help when the child’s cultural identity needs further exploring, or if there are complex issues to be considered.
Case planning and review for a child with a case plan goal of preservation is guided by the PSP Family Preservation Program (PDF, 749.8 KB) framework.
24 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.