Practices to improve communication between birth parents and permanent families

Susan Collings, Elsbeth Neil, Amy Conley Wright

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Abstract

ABSTRACT
Background: Support to maintain important family relationships is seen as a right for children in permanent care in Australia. In New South Wales, newly legislated permanency principles prioritise open adoption over long-term foster care and require plans for ongoing, face-to-face (known as direct) birth family contact for children in permanent placements. Countries with similar child welfare systems do not place the same emphasis on contact after permanent
removal and it is especially uncommon to see direct contact given priority in open adoption.
The problem: There is mixed evidence on the benefits of contact for children in permanent care. The quality of the relationship between birth relatives and caregivers is critical to the success of contact. Casework support is key to promoting understanding and communication between children’s birth parents and permanent carers or adoptive parents. The emerging permanency model in New South Wales does not yet have an evidence base and most caseworkers lack the skills to help these families build a constructive relationship in the interests of ongoing contact for children.
The solution: Casework practices developed for use in child welfare placements elsewhere may be successfully applied to New South Wales to help build the practical skills needed to facilitate openness, empathy and respectful interactions. These practices need to be tested and refined to build an evidence base on what works to support ongoing direct contact for children who are permanently removed from parental care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Social Work & Welfare Education
Volume20
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Open Adoption
  • Contact
  • Out-of-home Care
  • Permanency

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