Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Skip Navigation LinksProcedure

3.4.12 Negotiated placement agreements

Last Modified: 08-Oct-2019 Review Date: 15-Apr-2016

Purpose

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.  

Practice Requirements

 
  • A NPA is short term, has a specific purpose, is not intended to address long term needs of children or families and must not be entered into or extended “if there are reasonable grounds to believe the child is in need of protection" s.75(5) of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act).
  • When a child is subject to a NPA, they are in the Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) care, however parental responsibility remains with the child’s parents or guardian. In the CEO’s care - Parental Responsibility Chart (in related resources)
  • Only parents are able to enter into a NPA. A parent is defined as a parent "at law" which could include guardianship arrangements and adoption arrangements. 
  • The consent and signatures of both parents must be sought in order to enter into a NPA. In certain circumstances an NPA can be entered into with one parent although the other parent retains the right to terminate the NPA. 
  • If there is a sibling group to be placed, a separate NPA must be developed for each child. Where possible, siblings should be placed together.
  • NPAs can only be for a maximum period of three months. Where necessary a NPA can be extended, for no longer than three months with the parents and our agreement. NPAs can only be extended more than once in exceptional circumstances.
  • A NPA may be terminated at any time by us or by the child's parent (whether or not the parent is a party to the agreement) by written notice given to other parties to the agreement.

 

Process Maps

Not applicable

Procedures

  • Consultation
  • Consideration of the child’s wishes and views
  • Discussion and agreement with the parents
  • Confirmation of parental consent
  • Completing the NPA
  • Development of a care plan
  • Recording in Assist
  • Placement arrangements
  • What if protection concerns arise during the time that the NPA is current?
  • Termination of the NPA by the parents
  • Extending the NPA
  • Leaving care and the NPA
  • Consultation

    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.

    Top

    Consideration of the child’s wishes and views

    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. 

    Top

    Discussion and agreement with the parents

    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:

    • 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 
    • if there is another document relating to this consultation, for example, Form 456 Request for Aboriginal Practice Leader Case Consultation, record the Objective reference number .

    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). 

    Top

    Confirmation of parental consent

    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: 

    • after reasonable inquiries the other parent of the child cannot be found
    • the other parent of the child has failed to respond within a reasonable time to a request that he or she enter into or extend a 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, reasonably practical to request that the other parent of the child to enter into or extend a NPA.
    Top

    Completing the NPA

    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.

    Top

    Development of a care plan

    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).

    Top

    Recording in Assist

    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.  

    Top

    Placement arrangements

    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: Care 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: Family or significant other care.

    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.

    Top

    What if protection concerns arise during the time that the NPA is current?

    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:

    • protection application
    • an application for a warrant (provisional protection and care), or
    • taking the child into provisional protection and care without a warrant.
    Top

    Termination of the NPA by the parents

    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.

    Top

    Extending the NPA

    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 child safety investigation 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:

    1. The request for an extension or decision to extend must be made before the end date of the existing NPA. Child protection workers should consult with the team leader or SCPWPS. 
    2. Meet with the child to discuss his or her views of the arrangements. It may be appropriate to complete the Quarterly Care Report to assess the child’s views and progress in the care arrangement. The views of the carers may also be sought via this process.
    3. The request for an extension of the NPA must be approved by the assistant district director or district director. Child protection workers must 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. The NPA is scanned and placed on the Child History File and copied into the case file. The hard copy document is placed in the Child History Folder.
    7. Child protection workers must record the details of any variations to the previous agreement in the NPA component in Assist. The extension must be approved in the NPA component. Child protection workers must also update the Quarterly Care Review (QCR) in Assist. 
    8. When the NPA terminates, child protection workers must record the date and the reason for the termination in the NPA component in Assist.
    Top

    Leaving care and the NPA

    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.

    Top