Voluntary care agreement
A Voluntary Care Agreement is a legal agreement CYPS can make with a parent to share parental responsibility for their child for a short time. It is signed by one or both parents as well as the child if they are 15 years or older and agree with the arrangement.
A Voluntary Care Agreement does not require a court application. It allows the parent to request a temporary arrangement for their child with an approved carer, like you, for an agreed time.
Usually, the parent nominates a person within their family or extended family network to care for their child (kinship care) – this is also the preferred form of care. If kinship care is not able to be located or suitable, the child is placed with a pre-approved foster carer, or a residential facility or hospital.
The length of a Voluntary Care Agreement may vary, but is generally up to six months if it is clearly in the child’s best interests.
Care and protection orders
Care and Protection Orders are granted by the ACT Childrens Court when it is satisfied CYPS has demonstrated a child is ‘in need of care and protection’. These orders are always time limited and delegate certain parenting responsibilities to the Director-General of the Community Services Directorate (and therefore CYPS). In granting an order, the Childrens Court will do so on either an interim or final basis.
An interim Care and Protection Order is usually granted when CYPS first makes an application to the Childrens Court to put in place short-term protective arrangements for a child, and provides CYPS time to evaluate the arrangements before finalising the order. This time is used to see how the child responds to their new arrangements and to note what changes the birth family are able to make in that time to have their child returned to their care.
A final Care and Protection Order is granted when the Childrens Court is satisfied it has sufficient information to determine a child is in need of care and protection and making a Care and Protection Order is in the child’s best interests. A final order is usually made for either 12 months, two years or until the child turns 18 years old.
It is also possible the child in your care has come to you because of CYPS taking Emergency Action. Emergency Action is used by CYPS to secure the immediate safety and wellbeing of a child in response to receiving information that indicates the child is in imminent risk of abuse or neglect. It is also possible the child has come into care because they have committed a crime and are unable to remain in their family home.
This action allows CYPS to temporarily remove a child from their parents’ care and transfer the daily parental responsibility to the Director-General, Community Services Directorate, for an initial period of no more than two working days.
During this time, CYPS may make an application to the ACT Childrens Court for a Care and Protection Order to continue the Director-General’s parental responsibility for the child. In doing so, CYPS will seek to provide sufficient evidence to the Childrens Court that the child is ‘in need of care and protection’. CYPS may also determine the child can return home rather than make an application to the Childrens Court.
Emergency Action is not taken lightly by CYPS, and is always the action of last resort. In assessing the need for this action to happen, CYPS must take into account whether the child is:
- in immediate need of care and protection, or
- likely to be in immediate need of care and protection if the Emergency Action is not taken.
Back to top