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3.4.14 Negotiated placement agreements

Last Modified: 02-May-2022 Review Date: 15-Apr-2016

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Where the parents of a child are unable to care for the child, the parents and the CEO may enter into a voluntary written agreement that the CEO is to make a care arrangement for the child (s.75, Children and Community Services Act 2004.  This is referred to as a Negotiated Placement Arrangement.

Children under an NPA are in the CEO's care (s.30), even though parental responsibility remains with the child's parents or guardian. See In the CEO's care - Parental Responsibility Chart  for details.

An NPA may be terminated at any time, in writing, by the CEO or a parent of the child, whether or not that parent is a party to the NPA (s.77).  Negotiated Placement Agreements are short-term care arrangements made for a specific purpose and an agreed timeframe. 

For example, where a single parent or carer has been admitted to hospital or is incarcerated and has no-one else to care for the child.  

The purpose of an NPA is to support the child and parent(s) when the parents are temporarily unable to care for their child.   An NPA is not intended to address the long-term needs of a child or family and must not be entered into or extended if there are reasonable grounds to believe the child may be in need of protection (s.75(5)). If you believe the child may be in need of protection, a child safety investigation should be undertaken to assess what actions need to be taken including whether intervention action is required.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department). Throughout this entry, the term 'child'  includes both children and young people. Care arrangements are referred to as "placement arrangements" in the Children and Community Services Amendment Act 2004. It means an arrangement for the placement of a child with certain persons, made under section 79(2) of the Act.  

Rules
  • ​Only a child's parent or legal guardian can enter into an NPA with the CEO.

  • A parent is a parent "at law", which includes a person who has responsibility for the long-term or day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child, including guardianship and adoption arrangements. 

  • A child under an NPA is a child in the CEO's care and therefore must have a Care Plan. 


Process Maps

Not applicable

Information and Instructions

  • In the CEO's care - Parental Reponsibility
  • Consultation
  • Consideration of the child’s wishes and views
  • Discussion and agreement with the parents
  • Parental consent
  • Completing the NPA
  • Development of a Care Plan
  • Care arrangements
  • Leaving care and the NPA
  • Recording in Assist
  • Termination of the NPA by the parents
  • Extending the NPA
  • In the CEO's care - Parental Reponsibility

    Child subject to (section of th eAct)Child in the CEO's care?

    Does CEO have parental responsibility?

    s.29

    Provisional protection 

    Yes​

    Yes (to limited extent)

    Subject to any interim order in respect of the child, the CEO has responsibility for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child, including responsibility for making decisions about any medical or dental examination, treatment or procedure in respect of the child. Responsibility for the long-term care, welfare and development of the child otherwise remains with the parents.

    s.47-53

    Protection order (supervision)

    ​No

    ​No

    Parental responsibility remains with the parents. Conditions placed on parents by the Court.

    ​s.54-56

    Protection order (time limited)

    ​Yes

    ​Yes

    s.57-59

    Protection order (until 18)

    ​Yes

    ​Yes

    s.60-66        

    Protection order (special guardianship)

    ​No

    ​​No
    Parental responsibility is transferred to the special guardian; where SGO granted with an order for payment, a carer subsidy is replaced with SGO payment; may be considered for Special Needs Loading payments – assessed on a case-by-case basis; Department involvement is limited to the review of financial arrangements, or where the Department has deemed it necessary to provide social or additional financial services.

    ​s.74-77

    Negotiated placement agreement (NPA)

    ​Yes

    ​No

    Parental responsibility essentially remains with the parents EXCEPT where the NPA agreement specifically authorises the CEO to make certain decisions on behalf of the parent and is signed by the CEO and the parents. Cannot be used where there are child protection concerns and the parents have not or cannot protect the child from harm.

    ​s.32(1)(a)

    Placement service

    ​YesNo

    Parental responsibility remains with the parents. (Note: It is Department policy that a placement service must not be used where there are child protection concerns). ​ ​

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    Consultation

    The Department's decision to enter into an NPA is made in consultation with the Team Leader and Senior Child Protection Worker Placement Services (SCPWPS) and requires the approval of the Assistant District Director or the District Director. The decision should include consideration of alternative options explored as part of the assessment process, such as referring the family for social services or other support.  

    For Aboriginal children or children from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, you must apply the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and comply with the consultation required under s.81 of the Act or the CALD placement guidelines developed under s.80 of the Act.

    You must provide family members, and relevant senior Aboriginal staff, such as an Aboriginal Practice Leader, the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making. Consultation with the Principal Policy and Planning Officer – Cultural Diversity should also inform decision making for CaLD children. Where appropriate and with the parents' consent, members of the community can provide additional cultural information to inform care arrangement decisions. 

    These consultations will support the child's cultural, ethnic, and religious identity, including connection to culture, tradition, family and community while under the NPA. Aboriginal and CaLD children must have a comprehensive Cultural Support Plan incorporated into their Care Plan. For more information, see Chapter 3.4 – Cultural Support Planning.

    Record all consultations in Assist, either through the Case File or Assist consultation function (accessible from the Case Plan).  If not using the Assist consultation function, link the documents to the Approve and Manage Carer documents tab in Assist and/or in the Case Plan. For further information refer to the Assist User Guide - Consultations (in related resources).

    Record the:

    • date of the consultation
    • name of staff members involved in the consultation, including the Aboriginal Practice Leader or Aboriginal staff
    • issues discussed and outcomes, and 
    • any other documents relating to the consultation, for example, Form 456 Request for Aboriginal Practice Leader Case Consultation, record the Objective reference number.

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    Consideration of the child’s wishes and views

    The principle of child participation in s.10 of the Act must be observed, having regard to the child's age and level of understanding.  This includes ensuring the child understands the NPA and seeking the child's views and wishes during the decision making process.

    Any views expressed by the child must be taken into account when deciding whether to enter into, extend, or terminate an NPA (s.75(4)). 

    Where a child chooses not to be part of the decision making process or is too young, explain the decisions made, having regard to the child’s age and level of understanding.

     

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    Discussion and agreement with the parents

    You must explain to the parents that once an NPA has been entered into, parental responsibility remains with them even though their child is in the CEO's care for the agreed period.

    Ascertain whether the parents wish the CEO to exercise certain parental responsibilities in relation to the child, such as providing consent for a range of matters. For example, if a parent is interstate or overseas, the CEO could consent to certain medical decisions.

    Any negotiated parental responsibilities must be clearly documented in the written NPA. 


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    Parental consent

    An NPA can be entered into with the consent of only one parent, in circumstances where the other parent:

    • cannot be found after reasonable inquiries,
    • has failed to respond to the NPA within a reasonable time
    • does not have ongoing contact with the child, or where it is not reasonably practicable to request they enter or extend an NPA (s.75(3)).

    Before deciding to make an NPA with only one of the child's parents, you must demonstrate efforts made to contact or locate the other parent.

    An NPA can be entered, or extended, with the consent of one parent in circumstances where: 

    • the other parent of the child cannot be located despite reasonable efforts to locate
    • the other parent of the child has failed to respond within a timely manner to a request that they enter or extend an NPA
    • the other parent of the child does not have ongoing contact with the child, or 
    • it is not, in all the circumstances of the case, practical to request that the other parent of the child enter or extend an NPA.

    If a parent of the child wants to terminate the NPA, whether or not they are a party to the agreement, to do so they must give written notice to all parties to the NPA (s.77). 

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    Completing the NPA

    You must complete the relevant section of Form 447 Negotiated Placement Agreement and ask the parents to assist by completing the 'Important Details Concerning Child Being Placed' section.

    The NPA form (Form 447) will identify the start and end date of the agreement. The NPA must be in writing and signed on the same date as the care arrangement commences. From this date the child is identified as being in the CEO's care.


    The NPA form (Form 447) also identifies, where applicable, the reason why a parent is not a signatory to the agreement.

    The details of the NPA, including actions that the parents have agreed the Department can take, must be discussed with the parents. All parties must sign the NPA.  Approval sits with the Assistant District Director or District Director who should also sign the NPA.  If initiated afterhours, the NPA must be signed by a parent and the Team Leader of the Statewide Referral and Response Service – Crisis Care Unit.

    Provide the parents, the child (depending on the age, level of understanding and wishes of the child) and the carers with a copy of the NPA. Scan the original copy and upload the NPA to the Child History File (Objective) and copy into the case file. Place the original hard copy of the document into the Child History File. 

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    Development of a Care Plan

    All children in the CEO's care must have a written Care Plan that is developed as soon as practicable after the child comes into care (other than provisional protection and care, in which case a Provisional Care Plan is required within 7 days (s.39). Refer to Chapter 3.4 - Care Planning for further information.

    The Care Plan meeting may be facilitated at the time of developing the NPA if the circumstances meet the requirements of the Care Plan process including where:

    • all relevant people are in attendance such as the child, their parents, carers, and any other person considered by the CEO to be significant in the child's life
    • all relevant information is available to inform the Care Plan such as reports from allied health professionals, Viewpoint responses, Signs of safety mapping, records of previous meetings with family, education plans, etc, and
    • consultation with all relevant Communities staff, family, allied health professionals, and other people significant in the child's life has occurred. 
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    Care arrangements

    The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle must be upheld when making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child. For more information see Chapter 3.4 – Child Placement Principle.

    Children entering the CEO's care under an NPA should be recorded as being in a care arrangement.

    If a child's NPA care arrangement must be changed for some reason, if necessary, the child may be placed with an "interim carer" under an "interim care arrangement", in accordance with the checks and approvals required under regulation 4A of the Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 based on assessment of the care arrangement and approval by the Assistant District Director or District Director. Refer to Chapter 3.4 – Family or Significant Other Care and Chapter 3.1 – Interim Placement Arrangements for further information.

    It is important to be sensitive to the child's needs and provide any supports necessary to assist them to manage their transition into care under an NPA. Where possible, encourage the child's parents, family members or another significant person to accompany the child to the carer's home. Provide the carer with the Care Arrangement Referral (CAR) detailing the day to day needs of the child before the child arrives.  

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    Leaving care and the NPA

    Young people who were under an NPA continuously for at least six months after turning 15 qualify for leaving care assistance under s.96 of the Act. Refer to Chapter 3.4 – Leaving care and transitioning to adulthood for further information.

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    Recording in Assist

    Obtain approval from the District Director for the NPA via Assist.  Complete the NPA component which is accessed through the Intensive Family Support screen.

    Record details including the expiry date of the NPA and whether there are any variations to the standard form. 

    For further information, refer to the Assist User Guides (related resources).

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    Termination of the NPA by the parents

    An NPA may be terminated at any time by the CEO or a parent of the child, whether or not the parent is a party to the NPA (provided the parent terminating the agreement has parental responsibility of the child).   This must be done by written notice given to all parties to the NPA.

    Take action to end the NPA and complete all related work.  This includes recording information in the NPA component in Assist.  

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    Extending the NPA

    The Department's policy is that an NPA can be extended only once and for no longer than three months, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

    Having regard to the child’s age and level of understanding, ask the child about their views and wishes and give them the opportunity to participate, if they wish to, in the decision making process when considering an extension to an NPA. 

    An NPA must not be extended if there are reasonable grounds to believe the child maybe in need of protection under s.28 of the Act.  In this case, a Child Safety Investigation must be undertaken to determine what action should be taken to provide for the safety of the child.

    To extend an NPA follow the steps outlined below:

    1. Inform the parents that the request for an extension or decision to extend must be made before the end date of the existing NPA. Consult with the Team Leader or SCPWPS.
    2. Meet with the child to discuss their views of the arrangements. It may be appropriate to complete the Quarterly Care Report to determine the child's views and progress during the care arrangement. The views of the carers may also be sought via this process.
    3. The request for an extension of the NPA should be approved by the Assistant District Director or District Director. Submit the request via Assist (NPA screen, Create Extension). 
    4. The start date for the new agreement is the day after the end date of the existing NPA.
    5. Discuss the details of Form 447a Extension of Negotiated Placement Agreement with the parents, amend where necessary, and request their signature.  
    6. The Assistant District Director or District Director  must sign the NPA, after which copies must be given to the parents, the child (where age permits) and the carers. Scan and place the NPA on the Child History File and copy the NPA to the case file. Place the hard copy of the NPA in the Child History Folder.
    7. You must record the details of any variations to the previous agreement in the NPA component in Assist. Ensure the extension is approved in the NPA component. You must also update the Quarterly Care Review (QCR) in Assist. 
    8. When the NPA terminates, you must record the date and the reason for the termination in the NPA component in Assist.
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