How to apply to be a Permanent care parent

Do you have what it takes to provide permanent care? Your first step to becoming a permanent carer is to contact a permanent care service nearest you.

Permanent care parents come from a variety of backgrounds. You can apply whether you're single, married or unmarried, with or without children of your own. Whether you have the potential to meet the needs of children needing a permanent care family is much more important than your personal circumstances. You do not have to be 'special' to do this.

In most cases the child would be placed as the youngest member in your family. Generally there'll be two years between the placed child and the next oldest. Couples who have undertaken fertility treatment need to have completed it at least six months before starting the application process.

Helpful attributes for a permanent parent include good health, a sense of humour, patience, the ability to see things through and supportive family and friends. It is also important to have the ability to ask for help when you need it and to work with professionals.

How do you apply?

Here's an overview of the permanent care process.

  • Step 1: Contact a permanent care service

    If you feel you have the qualities to become a permanent carer, and you want to help transform a child's life, the first step is to contact a permanent care service in your area. Or complete the permanent care enquiry form and fax, email or post to your nearest permanent care service.

  • Step 2: Information sessions

    The next step is to attend an information session where a range of issues associated with adoption and Permanent care are discussed. Educative group sessions are then held to help you understand the placement process and provide information about the children who need families. One of the purposes of the groups is to assist you to decide whether permanent placement is right for you and your family.

    An information session must be completed before you proceed with the next step: attending training sessions.

  • Step 3: Training sessions

    Training sessions are run throughout the year and will help you understand the many aspects of Permanent care, including the needs and behaviour of the children. They'll help prepare you for the challenges ahead, as well as the rewards.

    Please note that the dates and times are subject to change so you'd need to check these with your program.

    Once you've completed the training sessions, you'll complete a detailed application, which involves police, medical checks, a working-with-children check and other documentation. References will be required. If you're in de facto relationship, documentary evidence will also be required.

  • Step 4: Assessment

    The Permanent care team will work with you to identify what you're able to offer a child and the type of child that would benefit from becoming part of your family. You have a say in what sort of child would most suit your family.

    A written report is then prepared. You will have an opportunity to comment on it before it is submitted to a committee who will consider your application.

    Approved applicants will then become available to have a child placed with them. This may take some time. Linking involves matching your family and your wishes to the particular needs of a child. So you may be linked with a child very quickly or you could wait for a while. If you're not linked to a child after two years, your approval will be reviewed.

    Once the child is placed there is a period of support and supervision before the final Permanent care order is made. This usually takes about two years.


  • Step 5: Support

    Permanent care staff will have ongoing contact with you to offer as much support as possible until the placement is finalised by the Permanent care order.

    Your Permanent care worker will assist you to help the child settle in, and be available to discuss difficulties that may arise, and link you with appropriate community support services in your area. In the early stages contact could be at least weekly. As you adjust and bond with the child, the contact becomes less frequent.

    After the Permanent care order has been made, the Permanent care team will still be there to help. Families may need support for months, even years, particularly at times of transition, such as when the child starts school or reaches adolescence and the team will always be available to assist.

  • Step 6: Legal order

    What type of legal order may be granted?

    After a period of support and supervision, and when the placement is stable and settled, each placement is finalised by an appropriate legal order.

    Permanent care order

    A Permanent care order is granted by the Children's Court and it grants custody and guardianship rights and responsibilities to the care giving family. This is different from an Adoption order, which is granted by the County Court and makes care givers the child's legal parents.

    Contact with the agency after the legal order

    After the legal order is granted, families usually use general community services, if appropriate. However Permanent care services are available to support Permanent care families at any time after the granting of a legal order.

Issues to consider

Being a Permanent care parent can be very rewarding. You can give children a feeling of belonging, acceptance, self-worth and family stability. It is not always an easy task. Showing love and acceptance to a child who may not seem to want it, or who is unable to respond in a certain way is difficult. Families need to be satisfied with small achievements and appreciate that progress can be slow. Families need to be able to accept that many of the children come from backgrounds of abuse or neglect. As time places, you can watch and help children gain confidence, grow in maturity, lose fears they may have, discover their talents and develop trust.

Further information

If you are interested in proceeding further, the Permanent care team in your area would be pleased to hear from you.