Permanent Care & Adoption


Permanent Care & Adoption

Some children are in need of a supportive family environment when it isn’t safe for them to return to live with their birth family.
Where family reunification is not possible, the goal is to achieve a stable long-term care arrangement for the child, where they are placed with another legally permanent family, which may be relatives, an adoptive family who obtain legal custody, or a guardian.

Approximately 9,000 children in Out-of-Home Care (17%) achieve a permanency outcome every year.*

Foster Care can sometimes lead to a permanent placement of the child in care with the Foster Carer, but this isn’t generally the primary intention of Foster Care (learn more about Foster Care here).

If you are interested in permanently growing your family, it is important to be clear on this motivation when considering the type of care that you pursue. Discuss what you are looking to explore with the agency or department and ask as many questions as you need to for clarity.

In 2020-2021:

5,400 children were reunified with family
1,300 were placed in a third-party parental care arrangement, and
94 were adopted.

Permanent Care / Guardianship

Across different states, you will come across various terms:
“Permanent Care”
“Long-term Guardianship (Specified Person)”
“Enduring Parental Responsibility”

The thing they have in common is transfer of guardianship. A placement is made under legal order and the carer becomes the legal guardian with full parental responsibility for the child until they reach the age of 18.
The basic legal relationship between the child and their birth family remains (the care order doesn’t automatically impact the child’s name or birth certificate). The child may still have contact with their parents, family, or other important people in their life, as outlined in their case plan or court order. Generally, there is no longer active case management. Some financial assistance may be available.
In the ACT, Long-term Care is Permanent Care, for children with long-term orders who are not already in a Concurrent Placement. “Concurrency Care” is the most common type of care in the ACT, where the carer is supporting restoration while also committing to care for the child permanently if restoration is not successful.


Adoption is the legal process of transferring all parental rights and responsibilities for a child from the child’s birth parents to adoptive parents.
Types of adoption in Australia include inter-country adoption, local adoption, or known child adoptions (including from Out-of-Home Care).
In Australia in 2020-21, there were 264 finalised adoptions (42 intercountry adoptions and 222 Australian children). There were 94 known-carer adoptions from Out-of-Home Care.

Information about adoption is available via the links below, or from Adopt Change, Intercountry Adoption Australia, or the Department of Social Services.

Those who are opening their homes to care for a child shouldn’t have to do it alone.

How you can support carers

Ideas for how you can play a supportive role and come alongside carers that you know.

Find out more

How your church can care for carers

Practical ideas, key considerations and guidelines for supporting carers within in your church.

Find out more

Wrap-around Teams Resource

A resource to equip a carer and their ‘team’ to do the journey together.

Find out more