An assessment care agreement is an agreement between Child Safety and the child’s parents that allows the child to be placed with an approved carer during the investigation and assessment. It is signed by the parents and Child Safety.
If the parents agree to an assessment care agreement, they retain all custody and guardianship rights and responsibilities during the period of the agreement. However, by entering into an assessment care agreement, they:
- agree to have Child Safety place the child with an approved carer, licensed care service or another entity
- authorise Child Safety to act in all day-to-day matters including urgent medical attention
- agree to have contact with the child at such times and in such a manner as is mutually acceptable to them, the carer and Child Safety.
An assessment care agreement:
- can be for a maximum of 30 days
- cannot be extended
- is only to be used if it is assessed that there are no safety concerns about the parents retaining custody and guardianship rights
- can be entered into with one parent only if it is impractical to gain the consent of the other parent or reasonable attempts have been made to do so
- cannot be made with one parent if the other parent has refused to consent to the agreement.
A party can end an assessment care agreement at any time by giving at least 2 days notice to the other parties. A parent who was not a signatory to the agreement may also end the agreement by giving at least 2 days notice to the parties.
If an assessment care agreement is entered into with only one parent:
- make reasonable attempts to give a copy of the agreement to the other parent and obtain the other parent’s consent, after the agreement has been entered into
- record all attempts to contact and obtain consent from the other parent.
A child who has a long-term or permanent guardian cannot be placed under an assessment care agreement.
Procedure 5 Decision making for a child.
To place a child using an assessment care agreement:
- Seek the parents’ consent to the care agreement and complete a Care agreement— Form, getting the parents to sign the form.
- Attach the form in ICMS.
- Obtain necessary information from the parent about the child, to provide to the carer, using the Child information form, and commence the care arrangement in line with the Procedure 6 Place a child in care.
- For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, consider safe, compatible care arrangement options that comply with the child placement principle. (Refer to the practice kit Safe care and connection.)
- Make sure that appropriate decisions about the child's safety are made by the end of the agreement period, even if a decision has not yet made about whether the child is in need of protection.
- Use the agreement period to carry out key investigation and assessment tasks, such as completing the safety assessment and family risk evaluation, interviewing relevant parties, gathering information and arranging medical assessments, if applicable.
Given the voluntary nature of the assessment care agreement, it is not usually appropriate to supervise contact between the child and parents during the agreement period. However, there may be occasions where:
- it is assessed that the risk to the child during contact may be high
- the parents have agreed to supervised contact during the agreement period, which prevents the need for an assessment order.
In these cases, contact will be supervised. Contact may provide an opportunity to observe the interactions between the child and parents and inform an assessment of the parents' ability to meet the child's protection and care needs.
If a child subject to an assessment care agreement is subsequently assessed as being in need of protection, a decision may be made to continue the care arrangement with the parents’ agreement, as part of ongoing intervention.
In this circumstance, end the assessment care agreement and negotiate a child protection care agreement with the parents. (Refer to Procedure 4 Use a child protection care agreement.)
Child Safety will not routinely seek to arrange an immunisation for a child who is placed in a care arrangement during an investigation and assessment. Seek the parent’s consent to the child’s immunisation if immunisation is relevant to the investigation and assessment or needed urgently. If consent cannot be obtained, consider whether to request that a medical practitioner administers the immunisation, under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 97. (Refer to the policy Immunisation of children in care and Procedure 5 Maintain the child’s immunisation schedule.)
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Edits to clarify an assessment care agreement cannot be extended.