What is out-of-home care?

Out-of-home care is a temporary, medium or long-term living arrangement for children and young people who cannot live in their family home.

Out-of-home care most commonly refers to statutory out-of-home care, where a child or young person cannot live with their family home and a legal order is in place to support the arrangement.

‘Statutory out-of-home care’ includes foster care, kinship care, permanent care and residential care. In Victoria, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has oversight of these arrangements. 

Out-of-home care also includes ‘informal out-of-home care’ arrangements. Informal out-of-home care refers to an arrangement in which a child is living with someone other than their parent or legal guardian. DHHS usually does not have oversight of these arrangements.

Out-of-home care does not include children on dual care orders or children that have transitioned to family reunification or adoption.

This section defines four types of statutory out-of-home care, explains how children come into care and outlines the legal orders which can be lodged to admit children into care.

Types of statutory out-of-home care

  • foster care: a child is taken into care by a foster carer who has been trained and approved to look after children
  • kinship care: a child is taken into care by a relative or family friend allowing them to remain within the family or local network
  • permanent care: a child is placed into the care of a Permanent carer (including foster or kinship carers where it is intended the child will remain in their care until age 18 or beyond) prior to a permanent care order being made by the Children's Court
  • residential care: a young person is placed into a home staffed by carers.

For more information, see: kinship, foster and other care

Children and young people come into out-of-home care through two main channels:

  • after an investigation and removal from the family home by Child Protection
  • when a parent or parents cannot care for their child and approach the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or a community service organisation.

For more information, see Child Protection 

Legal orders

A number of legal orders can be granted by the Children's Court to assist in the safe removal of a child from their family home.

Current orders can be found on the DHHS website. For more information, see Child Protection Orders

Requirements for out-of-home care providers

Schools, child protection practitioners and case workers are required to meet their obligations under the out-of-home care education commitment: a partnering agreement. For more information, see: requirements for out-of-home care providers


For more information on out-of-home care: