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Practice implications

Quality assessment is imperative in order to make good, timely permanency decisions with families and children. The Structured Decision Making (SDM) family reunification assessment tool assists with decision making.

A thorough and rigorous assessment is required to ensure the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing can be achieved by the permanency goals. Consider:

  • the views of the child and the child's family
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child:
    • the long-term effect of the decision on the child’s identity and connection with their family and community
    • the five elements of the child placement principle. (For further information regarding the child placement principle, refer to the practice kit Safe care and connection: part 3)
    • whether an independent person  has helped facilitate the child and family’s participation in the decision
  • the outcomes of previous interventions, including the family's engagement with Child Safety and other service providers
  • the principles for achieving permanency for a child, including whether the goal promotes relational, physical and legal permanency
  • whether the child can safely remain in the home or requires a care arrangement.

To assist with the decision-making process, refer to Permanency: Case planning 

Individual and family circumstances relating to each child will also be used in the decision-making process, including:

  • whether the child needs protection from one parent or both parents
  • whether the child's contact with one or both parents needs to be restricted for safety reasons
  • whether one parent, with support from relatives and other safety and support network members, may be able to assume a protective role for the child
  • the relationship between the parents, their level of involvement with the child, and their ability and willingness to be involved with case planning and, when relevant, implementation of the case plan actions
  • who will have custody and guardianship of the child for the duration of ongoing intervention.

In addition, when undertaking permanency planning, particular specialist assessments on issues may be required to assist in decision making. They could include assessments on kinship, adoption, carers, medical requirements, developmental requirements, attachment, and psychological issues.

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