OpinionState reform a win for foster children and families

FAMILY: Carer, and now adoptive mother, Anne Woolley, second from left, with Bella, right, and the rest of the Woolley family.Every child deserves a permanent, loving and stable home for life.

Open Adoption and Guardianship can deliver to children, young people and their foster families, greater security and a better chance of maintaining good relationships with birth parents when restoration is no longer possible.

Accordingly, CatholicCare Social Services Hunter Manning welcomes news that the NSW government is introducing reforms that will reinforce timely permanency outcomes.

Research indicates the outcomes for children and young people in Permanency Support Programs are significantly improved when they have a secure and stable home.

The earlier we can get this right for them, the better. At CatholicCare it is something we’re particularly passionate about and working vigilantly towards.

In the past 12 months we have transitioned from an Out of Home Care Model to a Permanency Support Program.

The introduction of this evidenced based model included the introduction of six dedicated ‘Permanency Planning’ roles, with these team members focusing their attention on working with the 180 children and young people in our care, their parents and carers, and the Department of Family and Community Services to secure timely, permanency outcomes

As a result, this year CatholicCare has assisted 12 children being granted permanency through open adoption or guardianship, compared with only four cases of adoption in the five years prior.

Our restoration numbers have also increased dramatically.

Where guardianship and open adoption has taken place the carer(s) became the legal guardian for the child and have demonstrated an ability and willingness to independently co-ordinate a positive and ongoing relationship with the child’s birth family.

A former CatholicCare carer and now adoptive mother, Anne Woolley, recently explained that she was often asked “how can you give a child back, after fostering for some time?”

Anne’s thoughts on this are clear, “a lot of people think that once you have a child in your home that they are ‘yours’. A child is not a possession.

“As a family we are here to provide a safe and loving home for however long is needed,” she said.

“It is essential that if you are considering foster care, guardianship or open adoption, you keep this at the forefront of your mind.

“If you go into it wanting to fulfil your own needs, rather than focusing on the best outcome for the child, you will be doing yourself – and most significantly them, a massive injustice.

“To us, it made no difference as to whether we continued to ‘foster’ Bella or whether we went down the path of ‘open adoption,’ we have loved her since the moment she came into our lives and no piece of paper was ever going to change that – to us, she was part of our family regardless of her decision.

“When Bella was 12 we chatted with her about the options, and she decided open adoption was something she wanted as it gave her a greater sense of security.

“A lot of discussions were had with Bella’s family to help ease any anxiety and we committed to ongoing interaction with her family, they are now our family too,” Anne said.

The length of time a child stays with a carer is determined case-by-case.

A child can be placed in care for a night, a week, several months or until restoration, open adoption or guardianship is finalised.

Regardless of the type of care provided all carers play an important role in supporting children and young people in care to meet their full potential by providing them with stability, support and nurturing.

The rewards of foster care, open adoption and guardianship don’t come without challenges.

Patience and compassion, not just love, are needed as many children in care have experienced neglect and/or abuse and all experience grief and loss.

CatholicCare is seeking carers from all walks of life including people of various ages, cultural and religious backgrounds and relationship status’ who can provide immediate, restoration, respite and permanent care, including guardianship and open adoption.

If you think you have the capacity to assist a child heal and would like to find out more please visit our website catholiccare苏州桑拿.au or attend our Foster Care and Open Adoption Information Session in Mayfield on Wednesday, October 31.

Gary Christensen is the director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter Manning