5. Facilitate an adoption care agreement for a child whose parents are receiving pre-consent counselling

The primary case worker is responsible for facilitating an adoption care agreement and the child’s placement with an approved foster carer. An adoption care agreement may be entered into between the chief executive and parents who are considering adoption so that a child can be placed with approved carers while services are provided to parents.

Adoption care agreements made under the Adoption Act 2009, section 50 can be arranged for a child only when the child's parents are considering consenting to the child's adoption and must not be confused with a care agreement made under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 51ZD.

An adoption care agreement:

  • grants custody of the child to the chief executive while the agreement is in force
  • enables the chief executive to place the child under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 82(1)
  • gives the chief executive the authority to make decisions about the child’s daily care
  • enables the parent to retain all rights and responsibilities associated with the guardianship of the child and be given an opportunity to be involved in decisions about the child’s care.

A child may be placed in care subject to an adoption care agreement for a maximum period of one year. An adoption care agreement expires if the total of any care agreements in force in relation to a child totals one year.

Adoption care agreements must state:

  • what arrangement for contact there will be between the child and the parents
  • the types of decisions relating to the child for which the parent must be consulted.

The child may also be party to the adoption care agreement, if appropriate, having regard to their age and ability to understand.

When an adoption care agreement is made, the child can be placed only with approved foster carers under the Child Protection Act 1999. Approved foster carers who care for a child subject to an adoption care agreement are eligible to receive the fortnightly caring allowance and applicable child related costs. The CSO in the CSSC in the area where the parent resides completes the Approved carer placement - Addition and deletion advice, to commence or cease the payment of the fortnightly caring allowance, as applicable.

Parents have a right to have contact with the child during an adoption care agreement. Contact between the child and their parents, and between the approved foster carers and the parents will be arranged by Adoption Services or the CSSC in the geographical area where the parent resides.

It is not possible to provide the parents with the full name, address or phone number of the persons caring for the child because the child may later be adopted.

End an adoption care agreement

Adoption care agreements end if:

  • the adoption care agreement reaches the agreed end date and no further agreement has been entered into
  • an order is made under the Child Protection Act 1999 granting custody or guardianship of a child to the chief executive or a suitable person
  • the chief executive becomes guardian of a child after consents required for the child's adoption have been provided, or dispensed with, in accordance with the requirements of the Adoption Act 2009 - in this circumstance, in accordance with the Adoption Act 2009, section 51(1), the chief executive may place the child in care under the Child Protection Act 1999, chapter 2, part 6, division 4.

A party to a care agreement (including the department) may end the agreement at any time by providing two days notice to the other parties.

If a child’s parent decides not to proceed with adoption for the child and ends the care agreement by providing two days notice to Adoption Services, the child must be returned to the parent. Prior to the child being returned to the parent, Adoption Services must:

  • assess whether a child would be at an unacceptable risk of harm if returned to the parent
  • notify the RIS in the area where the parent normally resides before the child is returned to the parent, if an unacceptable risk of harm exists.

The RIS will record the concerns, if any, and assess the information to determine the intake response. Where a notification is recorded and approved, it is transferred to the relevant CSSC for commencement of an investigation and assessment. For further information, refer to Chapter 1. Intake and Chapter 2. Investigation and assessment.

A child cannot remain in care subject to an adoption care agreement for more than one year. If a child has been subject to an adoption care agreement for almost one yearand at least one of the child’s parents has not consented to the child’s adoption and the child’s parents are not wanting to have the child returned to their care, Adoption Services will ensure any necessary action required to secure the child’s care occurs before the adoption care agreement ends.

Additionally, if at any time after entering into an adoption care agreement, it is evident that the parent does not intend to consent to the child’s adoption and does not want the chid to return to their care, Adoption Services may end the adoption care agreement.

In either circumstance, before the adoption care agreement ends, Adoption Services may:

  • notify the RIS where the parents normally reside to advise that the adoption care agreement is ending and that the child’s parents are not willing to care for the child
  • provide information to the RIS about its involvement with the child and parents.

The RIS will record the concerns and assess the information to determine the intake response. For further information, refer to Chapter 1. Intake.