To provide child protection workers with an understanding of the practice requirements associated with a negotiated placement agreements (NPA).
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities, and care arrangement refers to placement.
A NPA is a written voluntary agreement between the CEO and the parents of a child for whom the CEO is required to make a care arrangement.
The 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 options that have been explored as part of the assessment process, such as initiating or assisting in the provision of social services, under s.21 of the Act, or the provision of a placement service, or arranging a meeting under s.32 of the Act.
Where a person, other than a parent, is seeking support in the form of a care arrangement where there are no protective concerns, it may be appropriate to refer to a placement service under s.21(1)(a) of the Act. For example, a grandparent who has the primary role of caring for a child may be seeking respite as a means of support.
The child’s views have bearing on whether we should enter into an NPA. Child protection workers should speak with the child, where age appropriate, to determine their views.
Child protection workers must explain to the parents or the guardian that parental responsibility remains with them, but where agreed and included in the written agreement, the CEO may give consent to actions which would normally be the parent’s responsibility, for example a school activity. An appropriate senior worker such as team leader, SCPWPS, Aboriginal practice leader, or other relevant Aboriginal officer should be consulted during negotiations with the parents.
If an NPA is being negotiated for an Aboriginal child, consultation must occur with the Aboriginal practice leader, or other relevant Aboriginal officer in the district office, to assist in developing an effective client engagement plan that takes into consideration cultural issues.
All consultations must be recorded in Assist, either through the Carer 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:
If an NPA is being negotiated with a family with a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, the family's specific language and cultural needs must be considered. Where possible, this information should be obtained from the child’s family and community. Additional cultural information is available through the CaLD Resource Library (in related resources).
Section 75(3) of the Act outlines the conditions under which an NPA can be entered into with one parent only. However, s.77(b) of the Act allows for the other parent to terminate the NPA at any time if the circumstances for their exclusion are not relevant. One parent's denial of the other parent's right to sign the agreement is not justification for excluding that parent.
Before accepting that one parent will not be included as a signatory to the NPA, child protection workers must make reasonable efforts to contact or locate that parent.
Section 75(3) of the Act states that an NPA may be entered into or extended by one parent of a child if:
The child protection worker must complete the relevant section of Form 447 Negotiated Placement Agreement and ask the parents to assist by completing of the ‘Important Details Concerning Child Being Placed’ section.
The Negotiated Placement Agreement 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 considered to be in the CEO’s care.
The Negotiated Placement Agreement 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 we can take, must be discussed with the parents. All parties must sign the NPA. Child protection workers must take into account the parents' proficiency in English language when negotiating and preparing the NPA. The district director must approve and sign the NPA.
A copy of the NPA is given to the parents, the child (where age permits) and the carers, and the original is scanned and placed on the Child History File (Objective) and copied into the case file. The original hard copy of the document is placed in the Child History Folder. At this time, the parents should be advised that a request to extend the NPA needs to be received before the end date of the NPA.
All children in the CEO's care must have a care plan, which must be developed within 30 working days from the time the child enters the CEO’s care (this will be the date from which the child enters the care arrangement). Child protection workers should refer to Chapter 3.4: Care planning - provisional care plans, care plans and Viewpoint.
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.
Aboriginal children must have a comprehensive cultural plan as part of their care planning. Consultation should occur with the Aboriginal practice leader or other relevant Aboriginal officer in the district for assistance in planning, developing or reviewing the culture and identity dimension of the child’s care plan, taking in to consideration cultural issues.
Where a child has a CaLD background, specific language and cultural needs must be considered. Where possible, this information should be obtained from the child’s family and community. Additional cultural information is available through the CaLD Resource Library (in related resources).
Child protection workers must obtain approval from the district director for the NPA via Assist. The NPA component must be completed by the child protection worker, accessed from the Intensive Family Support' screens.
Details to be recorded include the expiry date of the NPA and whether there are any variations to the standard form.
A child entering the CEO's care via an NPA must be recorded as being in a care arrangement. A care arrangement can include foster care, family care, our and community sector residential care, or an intensive, specialised care arrangement. Child protection workers can refer to Chapter 3.4: Planning.
The SCPWPS should be involved in the process of identifying and securing an appropriate care arrangement. If a family member or significant other is considered the best option for a care arrangement for the child, that person must be assessed. In emergencies a child in the CEO’s care can be placed with a family or significant other carer under s. 79(2)(b) of the Act, based on assessment of the care arrangement and approval by the assistant district director or district director. Refer to Chapter 3.4: Care arrangements with a family or significant other carer.
Child protection workers must be sensitive to the needs of the child and provide any supports necessary to assist them to manage the transition to care. Where possible, encourage the child’s parents, family members or significant persons to take the child to the carer's home. At the time the care arrangement commences, the carer should be given the Care Arrangement Referral (CAR) detailing the day to day needs of the child.
If, after entering into an NPA, we have reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in need of protection, the NPA must be terminated immediately, with written notice of the termination sent to the parents, by the district director.
Child Protection and Family Support division will initiate intervention action in accordance with s.32(2) of the Act to provide protection to the child. Intervention action may result in a:
If the parents' circumstances change and the NPA is no longer required, the parents can request that it be terminated. Child Protection and Family Support division assesses the situation, and if it is assessed as being in the best interests of the child that the NPA is terminated, child protection workers must record this in the NPA component in Assist.
Our policy and practice guidelines state that a NPA can only be extended once and for no longer than three months, however, in exceptional circumstances, an NPA may be extended more than once. In considering another extension, child protection workers must seek and take into account any views expressed by the child in their decision making about extending an NPA.
An NPA should not be extended where there are reasonable grounds to believe the child is in need of protection in accordance with s.28 of the Act. In this case, a safety and wellbeing assessment must be completed to determine what action should be taken to provide for the safety of the child.
To extend an NPA the child protection worker should follow the steps outlined below:
Young people aged 15 years and over who are or have been in the CEO’s care continuously for at least six months under an NPA are eligible for leaving care supports and may be entitled to leaving care assistance. Refer to Chapter 3.4: Leaving the CEO’s care.