Permanent Care Orders (PCOs) are unique to Victoria’s child welfare system. Designed to preserve children’s identities and relationships with their birth families, PCOs were introduced in 1992 as a less drastic alternative to adoption for children unable to be safely raised by their parents. The literature indicates that policy choices regarding permanency planning in child welfare are deeply grounded in philosophical frameworks that reflect particular values and ethics.
These choices are significantly influenced by prevailing socio-cultural and political ideologies, as well as considerations of rights and findings from relevant social science research. The current policy trend in Australia is to follow other Western jurisdictions in prioritising adoption for children drifting in out-of-home care, despite that there is a dearth of domestic research on the efficacy of adoption and, especially, Permanent Care.
This research project aims to investigate the implementation of Permanent Care and how well its long-term aims have been achieved.