Last updated 8 August 2016
If the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) at the end of the investigation is satisfied that a child is in need of protection and needs ongoing help under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (Child Protection Act), Child Safety is then obligated to intervene through either:
- an agreement with the child’s parents or
- if not appropriate in the circumstances, to apply for a temporary custody order to ensure the protection of the child while deciding the most appropriate action to meet the child’s ongoing protection and care needs.
Child Safety must also develop a case plan for a child that is in need of protection and needs ongoing help under the Child Protection Act.
Intervention with parental agreement
At the end of an investigation, Child Safety must decide whether the child requires ongoing protection under the Child Protection Act. Any help that Child Safety provides to the family to meet the child’s protective needs, including any ongoing help, is called intervention.
If Child Safety decides that some kind of intervention is required, then Child Safety must give consideration to obtaining the parents’ agreement to the proposed intervention as a first preference.
If the parents agree to the intervention, then Child Safety must encourage and facilitate the parent and child’s participation in decisions about the most appropriate intervention for the child and how the intervention is to be carried out (ss 51ZB, 51ZC Child Protection Act).
An intervention with parental agreement will include Child Safety undertaking work with the family, as well as referring them to appropriate services to address the identified child protection needs in a timely way.
If Child Safety determines that a child needs to be in out-of-home care during the investigation, Child Safety should consider entering into a child protection care agreement for the child to be placed in out of home care.
Child protection care agreement
A child protection care agreement (s 51Z(b) Child Protection Act) is available when Child Safety is satisfied that the child is a child in need of protection and needs ongoing help under the Child Protection Act, and there is no child protection order in force granting custody or guardianship of the child to anyone.
A child protection care agreement is an agreement between the parents and Child Safety for the short-term out-of-home care of the child. Child Safety may enter into an agreement with only one of the child’s parents, if it is impractical to obtain the consent of the other parent.
Child Safety may not enter into an agreement with only one of the child’s parents if another parent refuses to enter the agreement (s 51ZE Child Protection Act).
Child Safety must obtain and have regard to the child’s views before entering into the care agreement, unless the child is unable to form and express views, taking into account the child’s age and ability to understand (s 51ZE Child Protection Act).
A care agreement should be in the approved form (in writing) and signed by the parties and must state:
- the name of the carer
- the period of agreement
- where the child will be living
- contact arrangements between the child and parents while the agreement is in place
- the types of decisions relating to the child for which the parents must be consulted (s 51ZF Child Protection Act).
The initial period of operation of the agreement must not be for more than 30 days. However, the agreement can be extended (more than once) with the parents’ agreement for further periods. It must not be extended if the total of the periods would be more than six months during any twelve-month period (s 51ZH Child Protection Act).
Child protection care agreements are intended to be short-term arrangements to allow the parents time to address the child protection concerns. The effect of a child protection care agreement is that while the agreement is in force, Child Safety has custody of the child (s 51ZG Child Protection Act). The parents will retain guardianship.
The parents or Child Safety may end a care agreement on at least two days notice (s 51ZI Child Protection Act). If a parent ends the agreement and Child Safety is satisfied the child is a child in need of protection, and a child protection order is appropriate and desirable for the child’s protection, the matter will be referred to the Director of Child Protection Litigation.
The care agreement will end automatically if a child protection order is made granting custody or guardianship to Child Safety or to someone else (s 51ZI Child Protection Act).
Temporary custody order
A temporary custody order (TCO) is similar to a TAO. The purpose of a TCO is to authorise the action necessary to ensure the immediate safety of a child while Child Safety decides the most appropriate action to the child’s ongoing protection and care needs, which could include applying for a child protection order (s 51AB Child Protection Act).
A TCO application is made directly to a magistrate, and must be sworn and state the following:
- the grounds upon which it is made
- the nature of the order sought
- the proposed arrangements for the child’s care (s 51AC Child Protection Act).
A magistrate may decide an application for a TCO without notifying the parents or hearing them on the application (s 51AD Child Protection Act).
The magistrate may make a TCO if satisfied that:
- a child is at an unacceptable risk of suffering harm if the TCO is not made
- within the term of the order, Child Safety will decide and begin taking appropriate action to meet the child’s care and protection needs (s 51AE Child Protection Act).
A TCO may last for a maximum of three business days (s 51AG Child Protection Act), but can be extended to the end of the next business day. A TCO cannot be extended more than once (s 51AH Child Protection Act).
A TCO can provide for any of the following:
- authorise Child Safety or a police officer to have contact with the child
- provide for Child Safety to have temporary custody of the child
- authorise Child Safety or a police officer to enter a place to find the child
- authorise medical examinations or treatment of the child
- direct a parent of the child not to have contact with the child or to only have supervised contact with the child (s 51AF Child Protection Act).
Once a TCO is made, Child Safety must:
- give a copy of the order to at least one parent
- explain to the parent the terms and effect of the order
- tell the parent about the right of appeal and if the parent wants to appeal, that it should be started immediately because of the duration of the order, and how to appeal
- tell the child about the order (s 51AK Child Protection Act).