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What is Voluntary Out of Home Care (VOHC)?
Voluntary Out of Home Care (VOHC) is where the parents or carers of a child with autism consent to their temporarily living outside of the family home, under the care of a specialist out-of-home service or agency. As the name suggests, this is a voluntary arrangement and does not involve a court order that requires a child to live out of the care of their family.
Voluntary Out of Home Care can be used as a temporary practice, as a response to unforeseen circumstances or crises, or as a regular form of family support at pre-determined times, such as school holidays, weekends or short periods during the week.
This form of short-term or occasional respite should be seen as a service that supports parents/carers, and they retain all decision-making power on behalf of their child. It can be delivered as part of a package of flexible supports for children on the spectrum and their carers.
VOHC is a form of short-term or occasional respite that can be used as a temporary practice, response to unforeseen circumstances or crises, or as a regular form of family support.
What are the benefits of voluntary out of home care?
VOHC placements are designed to provide short periods of respite for parents/carers of children on the autism spectrum. At the end of this time, the child returns home and parents/carers resume their full-time care.
The benefits of VOHC include reducing stress on family members, which in turn enhances their capacity to provide ongoing care for their child. It may also enable parents and other siblings in the family to spend more time together.
Children who are placed in VOHC can benefit from the additional support they receive, potentially leading to improved family relationships. They may also enjoy the experience of living outside the home for a short period of time.
How does VOHC work?
VOHC for children with autism generally takes the form of out-of-home respite care provided by a host family, a specialist service provider, or an agency.
When VOHC is centre-based, such as in a residential care home or short-term accommodation facility, it can take place in a group, with organised activities and outings as a part of the placement. There are also camps at different times of the year that are run specifically for autistic children.
A partnership approach is central to ensuring that the child’s welfare is always at the centre of any decision-making and parents/carers also get benefit from the service.
How can I access the service?
For more information about supports and services at Autism SA, please contact My Pathways on 1300 288 476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autism SA is accredited and registered as a provider through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). This means that you can pay for services at Autism SA with your NDIS funding, or you may pay yourself, through fee for service.