What is out-of-home care?

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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, residential care and lead tenant arrangements. 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, without an out-of-home care legal order in place. DHHS usually does not have oversight of these arrangements.

Out-of-home care does not include children who have transitioned to family reunification or adoption.

This section defines the types of statutory out-of-home care that exist in Victoria, 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: refers to situations when a child is placed with approved permanent care parents by Adoption and Permanent Care Teams, or when an existing foster care or kinship care placement is converted to permanent care by the granting of a permanent care order
  • residential care: a young person is placed into a home staffed by carers
  • lead tenant: an out-of-home care placement option providing medium-term accommodation and support to young people aged 16-18 years.

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 DHHS or a community service organisation to care for their child.

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: