Directing a parent to resume full parental responsibility

Follow this procedure when a case planning decision has been made that it will soon be appropriate to reunify a child in out-of-home care under a family reunification order or care by Secretary order.

Introduction

During case practice where:

  • a child is in out-of-home care under a family reunification order or care by Secretary order; and
  • the permanency objective is family reunification; and
  • protective concerns have been addressed to the extent that it is safe for the child to return to the care of their parent/s; and
  • with support under a family preservation order, reunification is likely to be permanent;

this can occur without having to return to Court. A direction may be given to a parent or parents to resume full parental responsibility for the child. The Court, child and parents are provided with a copy of the direction and from the date of the direction the family preservation order or care by Secretary order is taken to be a family preservation order. 

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Prepare the child, parents and carers in the course of your case practice for returning the child to parental care.
  • As the date of return approaches, prepare a revised case plan with a permanency objective of family preservation. Submit for endorsement. Ideally this should happen within two weeks of the anticipated reunification day.

Remember that any conditions included in a family reunification order continue to apply as conditions of the family preservation order, so the case plan will need to be consistent with those conditions. It could foreshadow an intention to apply to vary or include conditions.

  • Provide a copy of the new endorsed case plan to the child and parent/s within 14 days – and if possible, at the time of reunification.
  • Prepare a direction to the parent/s to resume parental responsibility using the template. The date of the direction is to be the actual date of the child’s return to parental care. See Forms - change in nature of order.

The direction needs to specify whether the child is being placed in the care of one or both parents, consistent with section 280(1)(c) of the CYFA.

  • Prepare letters to accompany the copies of the direction to resume parental responsibility. See Forms - change in nature of order. Include the relevant information sheet about family preservation orders.

Consider whether a notice of direction under section 282(2) is required in the best interests of the child. Such a direction may be given where it is both reasonable and lawful. This may assist where an issue of concern is not addressed by an existing condition. Consult with CPLO or your divisional solicitor. See under ‘Family preservation order’ in Protection order descriptions.

  • Return the child to the care of their parents and, preferably at the same time, give the case plan and direction paperwork to the parent resuming care of the child, and to the child, if age appropriate.
  • Issue a notice of direction under section 282(2) if required.
  • Provide a copy of the direction to resume parental responsibility to the Court, child/ren and parent/s no later than 14 days after the date of the direction.

The completion of paperwork should not delay returning the child home to parental care. Ideally this paperwork will be provided to the parent/s and child at the same time as the child returns home. The Court is to be provided with a copy after the date of the direction.

  • Record the change in the nature of the order in the Court screens. Be sure to record dates accurately so that the accumulation of time in out-of-home care is correctly counted in CRIS.
  • Place a copy of the direction and letters provided to the Court, child and parent/s in the child’s paper file and in CRIS.
  • Apply to vary or add conditions to the family preservation order (if applicable) using Form 39. See Forms – Court owned forms
  • Revoke any existing carer authorisation, following the relevant procedure.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide support and supervision.

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse the decision to prepare for reunification and the date parent/s will resume parental responsibility.
  • Endorse the family preservation case plan.
  • Sign the direction to resume parental responsibility and letters for all relevant parties.
  • Sign revocation of carer authorisation.
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