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Children’s Law

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What is a Care Application?

A Care Application is the main way that the Department of Community Services (CS) can obtain an order from the Children’s Court to protect the safety, welfare and well-being of a child or young person.

Who can make a Care Application?

Care Applications are usually made by CS when it believes that a child is in need of care and protection. CS might make a Care Application if it believes:

-       That something is wrong in the child’s family that has caused, is causing or might in the future cause some harm to the child, and

-       That certain actions are required to prevent the harm/and or to fix it and

-       The only way to get these actions to take place is to get a Care Order

Parents, children and young people, and other people who have a significant interest in the welfare of a child or young person CANNOT make a Care Application UNLESS the Children’s Court has already made a Care Order about the child or young person. If the Children’s court has already made a Care Order, then a parent, child or young person or another person with a significant interest in the welfare of a child can make a particular type of Care Application called an “Application for Variation or Rescission of a Care Order.” Applications for Variation or Rescission of a Care Order are dealt with in a separate information sheet.

If you believe that a child or young person is in need of care and protecting and that a Care Order is needed, you must call CS and make a report about the child or young person. You cannot apply to the Children’s Court yourself for a Care Order.

The Court has now made a finding that a child or young person is in need of care and protection. Now what happens?

Once a Magistrate has made a finding that the child or young person is in need of care and protection, the Children’s Court now moves to the “disposition” or “placement” part of the case. In the disposition or placement part of the case, the Children’s Court makes a decision about what kinds of Care Orders are needed to protect the safety, welfare and well-being of a child or young person.

To make this next decision, the Magistrate might need different evidence than for the finding or establishment or threshold question part of the case. All the parties, including CS, the parents and the child or young person (through their solicitor) might be asked to provide the Court with evidence about what the family and the child or young person needs and what they might do themselves to sort out any problems that have been identified in the first part of the case.

All other parties will have a chance to tell the Court what final Care Orders they want and give the Court evidence supporting their recommendations.

At the end of this hearing, the Magistrate will make a decision about what final Care Orders should be made. When making this decision, the Magistrate will take into account all of the evidence given to the Court by CS and by anyone else, including the parents and the child or young person. The Magistrate will then make the final Care Orders that he/she believes are in the best interests of the child or young person.  This will be the end of the case.

A Care Application is a very serious court case. It could result in one of more Care Orders being made, including changing your or another person’s parental responsibility for a child.

If you would like us to help you with an issue regarding Care Orders please contact us.