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Information for birth families

If your child is under the guardianship of the minister until 18 years of age, your child may be considered for an OPG arrangement. 

OPG means the carers of your child become their legal guardians. Your child is no longer in 'state care', but in the care of people who can provide ongoing support and a life-long home for them. 

Under an OPG arrangement, your child's carer will be allowed to make day-to-day decisions without having to talk with the department.

See What is OPG? for more about how OPG arrangements work. 

Your rights

As birth parents, you will retain some decision-making rights. These include things like: 

  • agreeing for your child to have a passport
  • allowing them to change their name
  • funeral arrangements
  • providing permissions for organ donation. 

OPG process

If the department believes an OPG arrangement is in the best interest of your child, they will recommend this to the Youth Court. 

As birth parents, you will be involved in the court process, along with the recommended guardians. 

Certain conditions must be met for guardianship to transfer to the carers - see OPG process for more details. 

Having your say

Before an OPG arrangement goes before the Youth Court, a DCP worker will talk to you about your views on transferring guardianship. 

They will talk with you about any concerns and will look at ways to deal with them. 

If you agree, you can give your consent for the transfer to go ahead.

If you do not agree, the application can still go ahead if it is in the best interest of your child. 

Care plans

A care plan will be written for the court that covers your child's needs now and into the future. This includes: 

  • contact you will be having with your child 
  • maintaining connections to community and culture
  • what help (if any) the department may need to provide. 

The department tries very hard to have a plan that everyone agrees with. 

Even if you do not agree with the plan, it can still go ahead if it is in the best interest for your child. 

Where to go for help

If you are unhappy about the plan, you can talk to: 

You may also wish to consult with a lawyer through the Legal Services Commission

Access after OPG

An OPG arrangement still recognises your child as part of your family and community. 

OPG supports children staying in contact with their birth family and relatives - where it is safe to do so, and where your child also agrees. 

Your child's guardians have to follow any conditions set out in the Youth Court order. This includes arrangements your child will have with you in the future, as well as other relatives like: 

  • sisters and brothers
  • grandparents
  • uncles and aunts.

Your child will be supported to maintain and strengthen their connection with you as their parent, as well as build relationships with their community and learn about their culture

Contact

Contact your Department for Child Protection caseworker for more information about OPG. 

You can also download the OPG FAQs (PDF 484KB).