Cross border placements - advice

This advice provides information regarding cross border placements for children in foster care and kinship care.
Document ID number 2105, version 5, 5 February 2024.

A cross border placement is an arrangement made by the department for kinship care or care provided by a Victorian approved community service organisation (CSO) or Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) for foster care or adolescent community placement for a child in an adjoining state, usually in close proximity to family or community contacts in Victoria.

Cross border placements are distinguished from most other interstate placements because an active decision is made not to transfer the relevant Children's Court order or proceeding to another jurisdiction. See advice Interstate and New Zealand case transfers.

Border towns have communities of interest that cross state borders. Children in border towns may for example, attend schools, participate in sporting activities and receive medical assistance, in a state different to the state in which they live.

There will always be some instances where it is in a child's best interests for foster parents or kinship carers to provide cross border placements for children from Victoria. These carers may well live in much closer proximity to the child's family and community links than other available placements in Victoria. There may also be particular circumstances associated with a case, making a cross border placement the preferred option for a child, or in some cases, a cross border placement may be the only available option.

Further, when considering a cross border placement for First Nations children, child protection practitioners must consider the Aboriginal Child Placement Principles (ACPP) and ensure that the cross border placement is in the child's best interests.

Children in cross border placements can either be subject to a voluntary agreement or a Victorian Children's Court order. Further, cross border placements can either be kinship care placements or out-of-home care placements via a community service organisation.

Legal Implications

Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYFA)

The Secretary and delegates are unable to exercise their powers pursuant to the CYFA interstate, therefore there are additional requirements for all cross border placements, which would not be required for placements of children made within Victoria - see below.

The placement of children interstate under an interim accommodation order (IAO) or protection order is not prohibited. However prior to recommending a cross border placement to the Court, consideration needs to be given to the enforceability of the order and the problem of responding appropriately outside of the jurisdiction of Victoria if the placement in some way fails.

While the CYFA does not extend interstate, the provisions relating to the regulation of out-of-home carers does apply to the Secretary and the out-of-home care service itself. The provisions that have application to carers apply to all Victorian registered carers, regardless of their place of residence.

Worker Screening Act 2020

Kinship care is considered to be ‘child-related work’ under the Worker Screening Act 2020 and all kinship carers must hold a Working with Children Clearance (WWCC). This requirement applies irrespective of the location of the placement. If the nominated kinship carer has a domestic partner who resides with them that person is also considered to be a kinship carer, and both must apply for and obtain a WWCC.

It is the policy of the department that each usual adult household member of a kinship placement, aged 18 or over, is also required to hold a WWCC.  This policy applies to all kinship arrangements where a child is ‘placed’ under the CYFA. This includes court ordered placements as well as situations where the department exercises its statutory powers in engaging with a family and facilitates, or alternatively endorses a pre-existing kinship placement, by undertaking a kinship assessment of the placement.

This includes:

  • respite placements, 
  • voluntary placements,
  • and circumstances where a report is received after an arrangement was made by the family, the matter proceeds to investigation and the arrangement is subsequently assessed and confirmed.

Working with Children Clearances

Where the cross border placement is arranged by a Victorian approved out-of-home care service and the proposed carer does not reside within Victoria, the placement may only proceed where the carer has made an application for a Victorian WWCC, has received a notice of assessment under the Worker Screening Act 2020 and been registered pursuant to the CYFA.

Where the cross border placement is kinship care placement, interstate kinship carers of children who are clients of the Victorian Child Protection program, are required to hold a Victorian WWCC. The WWCC must be applied for within 21 days from the commencement of the placement. The placement cannot continue beyond 21 days if the carer has not applied for a WWCC.

It is the policy of the department that all usual adult household members, aged 18 and over, who reside at an interstate kinship placement are also required to apply for and obtain a Victorian WWCC. A household member has 21 days from the commencement of the placement to apply for a WWCC. Further information on WWCC requirements for kinship placements, including interstate kinship placements, see Working with Children Clearances for kinship carers and usual household members – advice.

Written agreement with carers

The 'Cross border placement agreement’ form must be completed and signed for all cross border placements. Provide carers with a copy of the ‘Cross border placement – information for carers’. Both the form and the information sheet are available in 'Cross border placement' in Out-of-home care forms.

This form requires carers to give an undertaking to comply with conditions of any order of the Children's Court of Victoria and with case planning decisions and any other requests made by the relevant staff of the department.

Considerations for good practice

Cross border placements are to proceed when it is assessed that this is in the child's best interests.

Cross border placements may enable children to be placed in close proximity to family or community links, and maintain those links through regular contact with family members and continuing participation in educational, sport and cultural affiliations in Victoria. Cross border placements can only be made in rural areas which adjoin another state, so in New South Wales or South Australia.

A cross border placement is different from other interstate placements - where Children's Court orders and proceedings are transferred to another state or territory. In cross border cases, a decision has been made that it is in the child's best interests to remain on a Victorian Children's Court order, and for care to be provided nearby in an adjacent state.

Where a Victorian Court Order will be transferred to another State, the carer will be required to meet the equivalent working with children screening requirements in that State.