Is your child in care?

children

As your child’s parent you play a critical role in their experience of living away from home.

Research shows that children who maintain regular contact with their families do better in foster care than those who lose ties with their families or other significant people in their lives.

Why your child has been removed

Community Services is responsible for helping to make sure that children and young people are safe and being looked after.

If a report is made involving your care of a child or young person, we may contact you to find out more and assess whether the child or young person is at risk.

See more on "what if someone makes a report about me or a child in my care?".

To protect people’s privacy and safety, the law prevents us from telling you who made the report.

Under the law, we must remove children if they are considered to be “at immediate risk of serious harm”.

This is a serious action and a decision not taken lightly by Community Services.

What happens next?

In Court

Once a child has been removed from your care, a Community Services caseworker makes an application to the Children’s Court. The application tells the Court why Community Services believes your child was not safe with you, and explains what they intend to do.

You will be given a copy of this application, which will tell you what court you need to attend, the date, the time and the Community Services caseworker to talk to for more information.

We won't remove a child from home unless it can be proven to the Court that this is necessary for the child’s wellbeing, or unless we have your consent as the parent.

In all cases, our primary concern is to act in your child’s best interests.

After the Court decision

If the Court decides that your child should be cared for by someone else for a time, the Court will say whether the Minister for Community Services or another person should be the "carer".

In this case, your child will be taken to a safe place – a relative, a friend, a foster carer, residential care or independent living arrangements. They won’t be able to return to your care without the consent of Community Services or the Children’s Court.

You have the right to appeal the decision of the Children’s Court and wherever possible, the right to maintain contact with your child.

You will be told where your child is — unless Community Services believes this information would harm the safety, welfare and wellbeing of your child, or the carer and their family.

Where appropriate, your caseworker will arrange for you to see your child regularly while they're not living with you.

You will be given some information about where your child is, although you may not be told their exact location. See your rights as a birth parent.

When your child's in care: case plans

You will be involved in making a plan for your child, called a case plan.

Case plans are developed in consultation with you, your child, your caseworker and the child or young person’s foster carer.

Case plans vary depending on what a family needs, but always describe what you and other important people in your child’s life, including health care specialists, need to do in the best interests of your child.

Foster carers are encouraged to work with parents and caseworkers to ensure your child maintains regular contact with you and possibly members of your extended family and other important people in your child’s life.

They will work with you and the caseworker to help your child deal with their feelings about being separated from you and their family.

When it is part of the case plan, foster carers are also trained to help prepare your child for their eventual return to your home. In most cases, the main goal will be for your child to return to their family.

This could involve services being provided to you and/or other members of your family, such as counselling or legal advice.

For futher information on case planning, see your rights.

Also see " what if someone makes a report about me?"

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)