Communities and Justice

Types of placements

Placement of a child or young person may be organised through DCJ or an accredited non-government agency. There are different types of placements to suit different needs and situations.

Relative and kinship care

Arrangements are made for children and young people to live with relatives and kin. This is the preferred option. Every effort is made to support children to live with extended family – especially where the child already has a relationship and connection.

Foster care

Arrangements are made for a child or young person, or siblings, to live in a family setting with authorised carers from the community who are not family or kin. The carer’s own children may be living in the home, too.

  • Crisis care: Children and young people are placed in crisis care when there are concerns for their immediate safety. This can occur after-hours and on weekends. Crisis carers may be asked to provide care at very short notice.
  • Short-term and medium-term care: Sometimes children and young people need to stay with someone to support them while their parents or family are working on making changes so their children can be returned to them. These placements may last up to six months.
  • Long-term care: When children and young people can’t return to their family, and guardianship or adoption are not options, then arrangements are made for them to permanently live with another family.
  • Respite: From time to time, parents and carers need a break from their caring role. Respite care is for short periods of time such as weekends, once a month or during school holidays.

"I tell everyone I come across to just do it: become a foster carer. There are so many different roles you can play. Who doesn’t have one weekend a month to make a difference to a child’s life?"

- Tariann, carer, Armidale


A guardian has full parental responsibility for a child or young person until they reach the age of 18. Relatives and carers may seek guardianship through an Order of the NSW Children’s Court. 

Open adoption

Adoption permanently transfers all parental rights and responsibilities from birth parents to the adoptive parents. Adoption offers a secure, stable home for children and young people when they cannot be safely restored to family.

The term ‘open adoption’ means supporting children and young people to remain connected to their birth family and cultural heritage. It is an integral part of adoption legislation and practice in NSW. Adoption is not usually suitable for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Residential Care type placements

There are a range of other residential care type placements for children. You can find information about them on the residential care placements and emergency and temporary care arrangements sections of the DCJ website. 

Adoption and Aboriginal culture

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people come into out-of-home care they must be placed according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Young Person Placement Principles. This aims to keep Aboriginal children and young people connected to family, culture and community.

Last updated:

18 Jun 2024