Parents or anyone with parental responsibility of a child have a right to be involved in Children’s Court Proceedings.
If you aren’t one of these people, but think you’re the right person to care for a child who’s been taken into care, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, speak to the Community Services caseworker and ask them whether you can be assessed for placement.
When conducting a placement assessment, Community Services can look to:
- Your criminal history;
- Your child protection history;
- Whether any previous children have been taken into care;
- Your working with children’s check or police check;
- Whether you have safe and suitable accommodation, and
- Anything else that may be relevant to your ability to care for a child.
If an assessment doesn’t take place, the next option is to consider filing a Joinder Application.
When filing a joinder application, you must also file an affidavit. This affidavit gives evidence about your relationship with the child, and your ability to care for the child (which is also referred to as parenting capacity).
A joinder occurs under Section 98(3) of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (The Act). It is a two-step process, namely:
- Whether the Applicant has a genuine concern for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child;
- Whether the court ought to exercise its discretion to grant leave.
In considering your Joinder Application, the Court will look at:
- Your relationship with the child or children – are you a grandparent, family member, carer or friend of the child? How often have you spent time with the child, and what is the nature of your relationship?
- Have you acted adversely to the safety of the child or, in contrast, do you act protectively towards the child? Specific concerns that may be raised can include family violence, drug and alcohol use, criminal history or previous child protection history.
- What are you seeking in your application? Are you seeking parental responsibility or can leave be limited to only contact issues?
- Will you provide a unique perspective? Are you proposing that the child live with you? or are you merely supporting the perspective of another party?
- Will the Joinder cause further delay? How long did you as the applicant know about the proceedings, and has there been a delay in your seeking of the Joinder?
- Considering the above, do you have an arguable case?
If successful, a joinder application will result in you being joined to proceedings. You are now part of the court process; receiving all the court documents, attending court, filing affidavits, and having your perspective put forward.
Another way to be heard?
Section 87 provides for another way to be heard if you are not joined or don’t wish to be joined. Essentially this section provides that if an order has a significant impact on someone then they may have the opportunity to be heard. For example, you may wish the court to hear from you about the significant impact of a child being removed from your care.