What is Out of Home Care?
In Tasmania, the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997 provides the framework and mandate for government and non-government services, community members and families to respond to situations where children may have experienced abuse or neglect or where it is considered they may be at risk of suffering harm within their family.
Each night, over 1000 Tasmanian children and young people are unable to live at home and require a safe and supportive alternative arrangement.
Out of home care is the system that provides formal care to children and young people who are assessed as unable to live safely at home. Where the Child Safety Service assesses that a child or young person is at risk in their home, they will seek a court application for the short or longer term care for those children and young people and an out of home care arrangement will be made for their day to day care. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services then becomes responsible for the care and protection of those children and young people.
The vision for out of home care in Tasmania is that “…all children and young people are raised in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment with every opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Out of Home Care Services
Children and young people are at the centre of the out of home care system which provides a range of care and accommodation services.
Child Safety Service
Regional child safety teams have dedicated child safety officers and out of home care workers whose role is to provide support to children and young people and their carers.
For more information on child safety reform go to Strong Families – Safe Kids.
Foster carers are individuals, couples and families that open their homes and hearts to children and young people when they are unable to live at home. This can be short or long-term or to provide respite periods to the child’s regular carer such as for weekends or holidays.
For more information on foster care – Becoming a Foster Carer with Communities Tasmania
Kinship care is a formal arrangement, similar to foster care and is provided by members of the child or young person’s extended family or a significant adult.
Wherever possible, an Aboriginal child must be placed with kin or kith within the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.
Expansion of Kinship Carer Support Services to Baptcare
Kinship care is always our first Out of Home Care placement consideration under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997. Children, Youth and Families is the sole provider of a kinship carer support service in Tasmania which is delivered by our Out of Home Care Team. Currently kinship carers don’t have a choice about who provides support. We would like to change that. To help promote kinship care as a viable option for families, Children, Youth and Families is expanding the provision of kinship carer support services to a non-government organisation - Baptcare.
For more information - Expansion of Kinship Carer Support Services to Baptcare
There are three types of specialised care: sibling group care, residential care and therapeutic services.
Sibling group care is a placement option for groups of three or more connected children who cannot be placed together in foster or kinship care. It is provided by the not-for-profit organisation, Key Assets.
Residential care is group-based accommodation and support to older children and young people who have high or challenging needs and where foster or kinship care is not available or appropriate. It is provided by CatholicCare Tasmania.
Therapeutic interventions are provided to children and young people in care who have experienced trauma. The Australian Childhood Foundation provides this service and also provides training to carers and staff.
The Tasmanian Government has appointed an Expert Panel to provide advice on therapeutic and residential care in Tasmania with consideration to be given to both short term and long term initiatives. For more information on the Expert Panel and reports.
The Child Advocate provides a voice to children in out of home care regarding the quality of and decisions made about their care. Visit the Child Advocate section of the website for more information on the role.
Strategic Plan for Out of Home Care in Tasmania 2017
The out of home care system in Tasmania has had to respond to continual and increasing demand for placements.
In response to the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s report, Children and Young People in Out of Home Care in Tasmania, Children and Youth Services has developed a Strategic Plan for Out of Home Care in Tasmania 2017-2019. The Plan addresses all seven of the recommendations in the Commissioner’s Report and outlines a positive way forward that, with sustained effort, will contribute to the delivery of better outcomes for children and young people requiring care away from home.
Download the document here - Strategic Plan for Out of Home Care in Tasmania 2017-2019