Providing children in long term care and protection with the stable family life they deserve Tue 29 May 2012 Michelle O'Byrne Minister for Children Download hi-res version The Tasmanian Government will investigate how children on long-term care and protection orders can be given a more stable and permanent home life with Tasmanian families. The Minister for Children, Michelle O'Byrne, outlined in Estimates today a new project to examine permanent care options for a select group of children who have no likelihood of being reunited with their families due to the risk of abuse or neglect. Ms O'Byrne said the right of families to care for and protect their children was enshrined in law and every effort is made to reunite at risk children with their families. "This will not change. We will continue to make every effort to reunite families. "However in some cases the risk to the child is such that reunification can simply not occur. "It's our job to step in and look after these children when it has become clear that their family can no longer and will never be able to take on that responsibility. "It is widely accepted and backed up by data that children who have gone through multiple placements with foster carers have poorer outcomes, both socially and economically, in adulthood. "The children in this group have not only suffered through emotional and traumatic circumstances at home, but then find themselves on a revolving cycle of carers making it difficult to find their feet. "They commonly suffer from poorer health outcomes, lower education levels, higher unemployment and homelessness rates and a higher incidence of imprisonment, drug abuse and mental health problems." Ms O'Byrne said that the Permanent Care Project being run by Children and Youth Services would examine what legislative or administrative changes might be needed to ensure that children who cannot return to their parents' care find a safe and permanent home. "Permanent care programs are well developed in other jurisdictions with 189 permanent care orders granted in 2010-11 in Victoria," she said. "A permanent placement would allow the carers to assume responsibility for the day to day care of the child, financial responsibility and responsibility for long-term decisions, however it would not sever the child's existing family relationships as is the case with adoption. "The child would be given the opportunity to mature into adulthood with a loving and nurturing family with little to no involvement with the child protection system. "This is quite different to the situation currently where children may need to go through a number of foster care placements and the stability every child needs to develop, is lost." Ms O'Byrne said that there is a pool of interested Tasmanians who are not able to foster children short term, but who desire to take on the care of a child permanently. "Our primary responsibility is looking after the welfare of children, but this change may also mean Tasmanians who would like to share their lives and love with a child over a long period of time, will be able to do so." Ms O'Byrne said that a group within Children and Family Services had already begun preliminary work and would present a way forward, the financial implications and any legislative changes needed to Cabinet by the end of the year.