Voluntary placements

Follow this procedure when a voluntary placement for a child is arranged.

Introduction

Voluntary placements may occur with or without the involvement of child protection.

Voluntary placements are inappropriate if children require legal protection. Where a child is placed on a family reunification order as a result of the child protection involvement, the time the child spent in out-of-home care in a voluntary placement does not count towards the 12 months or 24 months in out-of-home care when the Court makes this order.  However, child protection must advise the Court of any time a child spent in out-of-home care during their lifetime, including voluntary placements, where this is relevant to the application before the court.

A voluntary placement can be ended at any time by the parent (and in some circumstances the young person) and does not offer sufficient protection where a child is at significant risk of harm from a parent’s actions.

There are two types of voluntary placements: kinship care and placements under a child care agreement. For kinship placements see Kinship care.

Child care agreements are entered into by the parent and the person in charge of the community service organisation providing the placement. Child care agreements can be short-term (not exceeding six months) or long-term.

See Voluntary placements-advice for further information.

Procedure

Team manager tasks

  • Decide whether a protection application is required or whether a voluntary placement should continue with or without further child protection involvement.
  • Review child care agreements:
    • if still required after six months (or an aggregate of six months in a nine-month period)
    • annually after the first review
    • if requested at any time by one of the parties.
  • Consult with community service providers every six months if a child is on a short-term agreement. Consultation and review may occur concurrently at the six and 18 month mark, in which case the review takes precedence and consultation is considered to have occurred as part of the review.
  • Approve long-term agreements. Long-term agreements can be entered into when a child who has, for a period of at least two years or an aggregate of at least two years in the preceding period of three years, been the subject of a short-term agreement or agreements, or in the care of an out-of-home care service.
  • Approve a person as a ‘suitable person’ to provide long-term care of a child.
  • Extend long-term agreements for a period not exceeding two years.
  • Extend long-term agreements with a suitable person until the child reaches the age of 18 years.

Person in charge of a community service organisation tasks

Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection tasks

  • Hear requests for a review of a decision. Parents, children and carers may seek a review of:
    • recommendations arising from the review of an agreement
    • non-approval to enter into a long-term agreement
    • non-approval of a person as suitable to have the long-term care of a child.
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