Streamline and expedite adoption for children in Out Of Home Care in NSW.
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Please streamline and expedite adoption for children in permanent care residing with experienced, authorised foster families in NSW.
In 2013/14 there were 18,950 children in OOHC NSW (FACS 2013 – 2014 Annual Report).
Even with early intervention programs and a restoration focus for short term care, the number of children entering OOHC has increased whilst the number of foster carers has decreased. Following the Justice Woods inquiry in 2008, only children at risk of significant harm enter the care system.
There are children who wish for permanency with their foster families and many carers who wish to adopt the child/ren in their care. The system is overloaded and under resourced. In NSW there were only 84 carer adoptions in 2013/2014. This is not a figure to be proud of. Hundreds wait and wait, approximately 700 are “in waiting”.
There are families who have adopted children from overseas and were then encouraged by FaCS to continue to grow their families by fostering children on permanent care orders with a view to adoption. These are experienced adoptive families for whom the Department already holds past paperwork and assessments as to their suitability as adoptive parents. This was seen by FACS as one way of recruiting new carers and providing permanent adoptive homes for children - in line with the Department’s permanency planning policy.
Media statements from the then Minister Pru Goward directed families to consider adopting children from within NSW, rather than pursuing overseas adoptions.
However since then FACS has slashed its adoption team to 12 in NSW. Anglicare, Barnados and FACS have stopped taking on new adoption cases. It takes 2 years for papers to reach the Supreme Court.
Some foster families wait over 7 years. Many give up. Very few, if any (I don’t know of any) families that were recruited as foster carers from the inter-country adoption program have successfully completed the adoption of a child in their care. They feel misled by the Department and a previous invitation from Minister Pru Goward.
In fact, not only are these families misled, while they wait they often face ongoing court action by birth families seeking to destabilise placements and prevent adoption occurring. Foster families suffer very high emotional, financial and personal costs during these times.
We call on the NSW Premier and new Minister for FACS to streamline and expedite the adoption of foster children with permanent care orders already living with authorized foster families who have applied to FACS to adopt their foster children. Allocate the resources necessary to have the processes undertaken to lodge the applications with the Supreme Court by the end of 2015.
Minister Hazzard, please don’t accept the response you will be given by FACS pointing to Pru Gowards' changes in legislation in 2014. These changes are a cause for celebration for future families, however not one change has occurred for existing foster families or the adoption process for current families. It has in fact slowed down.
We congratulate the Prime Minister on his commitment made at the National Adoption Awareness Week 2014 opening, to reduce the time frame taken to organise an adoption, to 12 months. We agree Prime Minister that 5+ years is too long for an inter-country adoption. But it is a LARGER disgrace that it is taking NSW families that long or longer to adopt a child already in their care.
As our Prime Minister said “if people can have a child in 9 months, why can't we arrange an adoption in 12 months?” referring to inter-country adoptions, if it's good enough to adopt a child/ren from overseas in 12 months, then why not a child here?
The children have no voice. They have waited too long for the permanency and stability they have been promised.
Related links below.
From the Adopt Change media release for Adoption Awareness Week in November 2014:
From the Prime Minister’s speech, (November 2014) https://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-11-07/joint-remarks-adopt-change-adoption-awareness-week-morning-tea.
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