What happens to a child who is not at risk?
How a child can be protected from harm or further harm, including arranging support for the family and information about Parent Capacity Orders and Parent Responsibility Contracts
Parent capacity orders (PCO)
Parent capacity orders are used to help parents keep their children safe. The Children’s Court can issue a stand-alone parent capacity order. This order requires a parent to participate in a program, service, course, therapy or treatment to improve their parenting skills so they can provide a safe, nurturing home for their child.
Parent capacity orders aim to reduce the need for Family and Community Services (FACS) to intervene, such as removal of a child from the family home or a decision not to return a child to their parent’s care.
The Children’s Court can make a parent capacity order on its own, or FACS can make an application if the following have identified:
- an issue with the parent’s or primary caregiver’s care for a child or young person
- the potential risk of significant harm to the child or young person
- it is reasonable and practical to make a parent or primary caregiver participate in a service, course or treatment program
- there is an appropriate and available service, course or treatment program
- it is unlikely the parent or primary caregiver would participate unless an order is made.
Addressing the child's safety and wellbeing
A parent capacity order gives a parent or primary caregiver an opportunity to address the issue of the child’s safety and wellbeing before the situation escalates. It aims to avoid a more intrusive intervention by FACS, such as removal of a child from the family home or, in the case of an already removed child, a decision not to return a child to their parent’s care.
The court can make a parent capacity order on its own or FACS can make an application. Unlike a parent responsibility contract, a parenting capacity order does not require the consent of the parent or primary caregiver. However, where possible, the court will aim to gain consent from the parent or primary caregiver.
The duration of a parent capacity order depends on the service, program or treatment required. It is specified in the order. The Children’s Court can vary the time frame or terminate the order early.