Journal Article

Child Protection, Permanency Planning and Children's Right to Family Life

Patrick Parkinson

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 17, issue 2, pages 147-172
Published in print August 2003 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 2003 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Child Protection, Permanency Planning and Children's Right to Family Life

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Modern child protection law demonstrates a tension between two competing approaches. The first emphasizes the importance of partnership with birth families in the protection of children. The second emphasizes the need for children to have security in alternative care arrangements when it is not safe for them to remain in their parents' care, with a particular focus on adoption. Increasingly, these two approaches are seen as poles on an ideological spectrum, and the pro‐adoption approach is championed in the name of children's rights. This article explores these issues through the experience in New South Wales, Australia where a government proposal to promote adoption as the preferred option for permanency was defeated. The proposal was influenced by developments in America and Britain, and in particular, the Adoption and Safe Families Act 1997 (ASFA) (US). The arguments against the move were that adoption severs all ties with the birth family as a matter of law; that permanent arrangements can be made without adoption; that the pro‐adoption stance is focused on the needs of very young children; that the pro‐adoption stance may undermine child protection efforts by making it less likely that child abuse reports will be made; that adoption may leave the adopting parents without adequate supports and that the pro‐adoption stance is insensitive to the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. While affirming the value of adoption as one option for permanency, this article explores the importance of children's rights to continuity of relationships with people significant to them in making arrangements for long‐term alternate care.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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