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 4, 29 August 2017.

A cross border placement is an arrangement made by the Department of Health and Human Services for kinship care or by a Victorian approved community service organisation (CSO) for foster care or adolescent community placement for a child to be placed 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 indigenous children, child protection practitioners need to take into account the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle 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

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.

Working with Children Act

The Working with Children Act 2005 contains some provisions which may affect the ability of child protection to proceed with cross border placements. This Act is relevant as it prohibits people engaging in child related employment if they have not been subject to a relevant check and received relevant notice clearing them for such employment.

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.

Working with Children Check

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 Working with Children Check, received a notice of assessment under the Working with Children Act 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 Working with Children Check card. The Working with Children Check 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 Working with Children Check.

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.