A support service case may be opened when:
- Child Safety Services has investigated and found that a child is not in need of protection, however, they believe your family would benefit from some support to help you and address any child protection concerns
- an investigation and assessment has determined that an unborn child will be in need of protection after birth
- a young person who has been in care still needs support following their 18th
A support service case involves providing, or helping provide, prevention, early intervention and support services to strengthen and support families, pregnant women and young people.
Under a support service case you will
- be assigned a Child Safety Officer (CSO),
- you will develop a support plan with them that specifies your support plan goals and actions,
- you will maintain regular face to face and telephone contact with your CSO
- you may be referred to other support services and
- your support plan will be reviewed every six months
The child’s parents, pregnant woman or young person must consent to work with Child Safety Services and agree to participate in the development and implementation of a support plan before a support service case can be opened.
Child Safety Services may consider working with parents under an Intervention with Parental Agreement (IPA) as an alternative to an application for a child protection order in court.
An IPA allows CSO to work intensively with a family to meet the protection and care needs of the child with the parent’s agreement.
IPA cases are only used when:
- parents are willing and able to work with Child Safety Services to meet their child’s protection and care needs, and
- it is likely that by the end of the intervention parents will be able to meet the needs of the child.
Under this agreement, Child Safety Services will organise a family group meeting to develop a case plan that addresses the needs of the child and how the child is to be protected from harm.
They may also:
- organise support services to assist the family to achieve its goals.
- obtain the views of the child if it is possible to do so and even make your child part of any agreement.
- arrange for a child to be placed in care for a short time (if you agree to sign what’s called a ‘Care Agreement’).
A child will usually remain in the family home for all or most of this type of intervention, but may be in placed in out-of-home care for all or part of the agreement with the consent of the parents.
A Care Agreement is a short-term agreement between you and Child Safety Services for your child to temporarily be in the care of Child Safety Services. This means that you agree to give Child Safety Services the right to make all day-to-day decisions about the child, including where the child is to live. Child Safety Services should consult with you about these decisions. There are two types of care agreements: ‘Assessment Care Agreement’ and ‘Child Protection Care Agreement’.
Child Safety Services may ask you to agree to an Assessment Care Agreement, when they are investigating and assessing child protection concerns about your child. An Assessment Care Agreement can be made with only one of the parents in some circumstances. However, an Assessment Care Agreement cannot be made if one of the parents refuses to make the agreement.
Child Safety Services may ask you to agree to a Child Protection Care Agreement, when they have assessed that your child is in need of protection.
All Care Agreements must:
- be in writing.
- state how long it is for.
- state where the child is to live (including name, address and phone number of the person who will be caring for your child).
- state the contact arrangements.
- state the type of decisions about the child you must be consulted about.
You will still have legal custody of your child during an Assessment Care Agreement and so will be responsible for making most decisions about your child’s care.
During a Child Protection Care Agreement, Child Safety Services will have legal custody of your child and you will still be your child’s guardian. You and your child have the same rights as you would if there was an order granting custody of your child to Child Safety Services in place.
Your child (the subject of the Care Agreement) may be a party to a Care Agreement.
Assessment Care Agreements must not be longer than 30 days and cannot be extended.
Initially they should not be longer than 30 days. They can be extended but cannot be longer than a total of six months (adding up any periods the child has been in care under an agreement in the last 12 months).
It is important to remember that before an extension is granted, your child must have a current case plan. Make sure that before you go to a Family Group Meeting read the tips on pages 26 – 28.
Yes, at any time, but 2 days’ notice must be given to Child Safety Services.
Be aware though that if Child Safety Services is of the view that your child is in need of protection, Child Safety Services may then refer the matter to the Director of Child Protection Litigation to apply to a court for an order giving Child Safety Services custody or guardianship of your child.
A Care Agreement ends automatically if Child Safety Services gets an order granting custody or guardianship of your child to Child Safety Services or another person.