Permanent care orders

Follow this procedure when making an application for a permanent care order.

Introduction

When a permanency objective of permanent care has been endorsed and a permanent care assessment of the carers has been completed, child protection can make an application to the Children’s Court for a permanent care order (PCO).

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • If the child is Aboriginal, consider and assess compliance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle prior to commencing an application for a permanent care order for an Aboriginal child.
  • Request and obtain a permanent care assessment report. 
  • If the child is Aboriginal, whether the proposed permanent carer is Aboriginal or not , an accredited Aboriginal agency must conduct the assessment or be consulted as part of the assessment. The accredited Aboriginal agency must endorse the application in all instances.
  • Complete a court report setting out why permanent care is in the child’s best interests, attaching the assessment of the proposed permanent carers.
  • Under s. 320(1A) of the CYFA, the Secretary must not approve a person as suitable to have parental responsibility for child under a permanent care order and be satisfied they will preserve the child’s identity, their connection to their culture of origin and their relationships with their birth family. Regulation 18 of the Children, Youth and Families Regulations 2007 sets out the prescribed requirements for permanent carers. When assessing permanent carers, you need to provide the Court with a report that addresses the information required in s. 320 and Regulation 18 in order for the Court to make a decision.
  • Regulation 18 covers:
    • the prospective permanent carers’ health (including medical and psychiatric health)
    • their skills and experience
    • their capacity to provide stability for the child for the duration of the permanent care order
    • their capacity to promote and protect the child’s safety, wellbeing and development for the duration of the order
    • their capacity to provide appropriate support to the maintenance of the child’s cultural identity and religious faith (if any)
    • their appreciation of the importance of contact with the child’s birth parents, siblings and family and exchange of information concerning the child
    • their general character including any criminal history
    • their relationship with other household and family members and the criminal records and history of the household members (if any)
    • their residency status.

Adoption and permanent care services require that permanent care applicants have shown a permanent commitment to remaining permanently in this country and are Australian citizens, been granted Australian citizenship or are holders of a permanent resident visa.

  • Undertake a national police history check on the proposed permanent carer(s) and all adult members of their household no more then three months prior to the application being made. In kinship care cases the national police history checks are undertaken by child protection. In all other cases the checks are undertaken by the responsible community service organisation.
  • Check ‘Persons responsible for harm’ on CRIS.
  • Seek advice from the CPLO solicitor or a divisional solicitor about the proposed application.
  • Make an application to extend the current protection order in force if this is necessary to ensure that the order will not lapse prior to the making of the permanent care order.
  • Complete application Form 31 in CRIS, lodge the form with the court registry and obtain a hearing date.
  • You must consider the views of the parents regarding the placement.
  • Serve copies of the form on the child aged 12 years and older, the child’s parents and a party to the proceedings at least five days before the hearing. See Service of documents.  You may apply to the court for dispensation of service.  See Dispensation of service.
  • Provide the family with information about their and their child’s right to legal representation and Legal Aid.
  • Complete affidavit of service and lodge the paperwork with court prior to the hearing date to have the matter listed.  See Affidavits and statutory declarations.
  • Fax the application form and affidavit of service to the CPLO as early as possible before the hearing date, or provide them to the divisional solicitor.
  • Prepare the application court report.
  • Prepare a cultural plan.
  • Consult your supervisor, permanent care practitioner and if necessary CPLO or divisional solicitor about the information that should be included in the report. Refer to the CRIS alert screen and ensure the report does not include confidential information such as protected addresses and contact details.
  • Where possible, seek the child’s and family’s feedback on the report.
  • Three days before the hearing:
    • Submit the report to the Court (non-court ordered reports authored by other professionals cannot be distributed without the consent of the author and the approval of a supervisor).
    • Fax all reports to the CPLO solicitor or the divisional solicitor.
    • Fax copy of reports to lawyers representing the child, the child if aged 12 years or older, the child’s parents, the proposed permanent carers and any other party to the proceeding.
    • Arrange a legal aid appointment with Victoria Legal Aid for each child aged 10 years or older, so that the child can give instructions to their lawyer and avoid the need to attend court to give instructions, unless they choose to do so.
  • Where parents indicate they are consenting to the order and do not wish to attend court, obtain consent in writing from the parents after:
    • encouraging them to seek legal representation
    • they have been served with a copy of the application, and
    • they have been served with a copy of the report.
  • Written consent should include agreement to both the PCO and to all conditions outlined in the report.
  • Provide original written consents to the Court.
  • Obtain and complete the permanent care certificate (available from the CPLO) and provide this to court registry before the hearing date.
  • Contact court to arrange security if there are worker safety issues.
  • Consult the CPLO solicitor or divisional solicitor before the hearing date.
  • Complete CRIS requirements including court screen and record of activity, decisions and rationales.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing support and consultation.
  • Endorse the court report.

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse the court report.
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