little boy hugging his dad
little boy hugging his dad

Adoption policy change set to start next year

About half of foster parents providing homes to children in state care would be interested in adopting them, according to a survey by a peak carer body.

However, the Child Protection Minister says an updated policy to make adoption more common is not likely to be in place until next year.

Rachel Sanderson wants to make it clearer to social workers that they should consider adoption when it is "in the best interests of the child".

Adoption from state care is already legal but has not occurred for at least five years.

Ms Sanderson said she "visited department offices where my own staff did not know adoption was possible".

Workers are more likely to suggest long-term guardianship, which expires at age 18.

Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA CEO Fiona Endacott said a survey run last year found 57 per cent of 165 respondents would consider pursuing adoption for a child in their care.

But carers stressed they would want to continue receiving payments from the department to provide support, such as therapy or medical treatment, for children who had experienced abuse or neglect with their birth families.

Ms Sanderson will open public consultation on the detail of the policy, which she said would likely take about six months. But she has already declared Aboriginal children will not be covered by the policy - a move welcomed by Aboriginal leaders.

Aboriginal Children's Commissioner April Lawrie said this showed "respect and recognition" of the harms caused by past forced adoptions.

Ms Lawrie said the focus should be on finding placements with extended family or Aboriginal foster carers.

"We believe we don't need to go there (adoption) for Aboriginal children," she said.

Instead, the department should increase efforts to involve the Aboriginal community in finding suitable placements because about half of Aboriginal children in care were being placed with non-indigenous carers, she said.

Opposition child protection spokeswoman Jayne Stinson said Labor had "long supported adoption in the right circumstances" but noted it did nothing to stop children entering the system.

"The minister should focus her attention on the 9 per cent increase in ... children coming into care since she's been at the helm," she said.

Ms Sanderson said adoption would be one option for a small number of children, likely those already living with long-term carers.

Anglicare SA CEO Peter Sandeman, who was adopted as a child, said it was important that all adoptions would be open, allowing children to know the identity of their birth parents and have contact with them if they wished.



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