Parent Responsibility Contract – information for parents
What is a Parent Responsibility Contract (PRC)?
A Parent Responsibility Contract (PRC) is a voluntary support agreement between you (as a primary care giver or expectant parent) and Family and Community Services (FACS).
You are being offered a PRC because FACS has assessed that there are concerns for your child’s safety and wellbeing. A PRC aims to support you to make changes and improve your parenting skills so that your child is safe and continues to remain living with you.
PRCs are used when the case plan goal is to keep your family living together. Or in the case that your family is not living together, a PRC is used to support your family to live together safely
How is a PRC developed?
PRCs are to be developed between you and your FACS caseworker in a respectful, collaborative manner. The PRC will include the following information:
- The purpose of the PRC
- The key current concerns that should be written in your own words
- The actions that will explain what you need to do in order for your child to either remain safely in your care or be safely restored to you.
If you are an expectant parent, the purpose of a PRC is to increase your parenting skills and reduce the likelihood of your child being at risk of significant harm once born.
Once you have spoken to an independent person to get legal advice, your caseworker will organise a case plan meeting with all the relevant parties to discuss, negotiate and develop a PRC that suits your family’s needs. Representatives from service providers, courses, treatment programs that could support you to achieve your goals will be included in the case planning meeting.
You should have a separate PRC for your partner if there are issues of violence. If you don’t agree with the PRC, talk to your caseworker about your concerns.
If you have spoken with your caseworker and still disagree with the PRC, you do not have to sign the contract, as PRCs are a voluntary agreement.
Why does FACS want me to sign a PRC?
FACS has recognised that a PRC is a positive option for you and your children because:
- you recognise there are child protection concerns or risks regarding your child and want to work with FACS and other service providers to overcome these issues
- you agree that the child protection issues could be satisfactorily reduced or overcome within 12 months.
When should a parent responsibility contract be used?
Where a safety assessment has been undertaken and the case plan is to keep your family living together safely.
Where a pre-natal report has been made about an unborn child, caseworkers may consider whether a PRC is an appropriate casework tool to work with an expectant parent to minimise risks to the child after birth.
How long does a PRC last?
Once a PRC is registered with the Children’s Court it can be for a period up to 12 months. No more than one PRC can be made with the same primary caregiver within an 18 month period from the beginning of the PRC.
What does a PRC do?
A PRC is not a court order. A PRC is a written agreement that is signed by you and FACS and registered at the Children’s Court.
Do I have a say in what’s in a PRC and who can give me advice?
Before signing a PRC, you will be given time (up to two weeks) to get independent advice about the terms and goals of the PRC. You can get free legal advice from a local or state-wide legal service. See the section on free legal advice for contact details.
Once you have received legal advice you may give your consent to your legal representative to seek further clarification from FACS. The information shared between FACS and your legal adviser can only be for the purpose of clarifying issues in the PRC.
What happens if the agreements in a PRC are broken?
If you breach a term of the PRC or if you don’t do the tasks within the timeframes outlined in your PRC, further casework may be appropriate and an amended PRC may be part of that. If the agreement is broken a decision may be made to file a contract breach notice. The contract breach notice will be filed along with a care application and the PRC can be taken as evidence of prior alternative action.
Can a PRC be changed?
A PRC can only be changed by agreement between you and FACS. These changes take effect only once registered with the Children’s Court. It is advised that you seek legal advice before signing a changed PRC.
What happens while a parent responsibility contract is in place?
While a PRC is in place, the caseworker and support services work with you to reduce parenting concerns identified and create change that keeps your child safe.
The PRC also details what FACS will do to support you to address the concerns, and how the PRC will be monitored. It is vital that your caseworker is clear with you and your support services that their roles and responsibilities are to reduce risk and ensure that the focus is on your child’s experience and safety.
Free Legal Advice
You have a right to get free legal advice before signing a PRC. FACS encourages you to seek advice as early as possible. It’s important that you understand what you are being asked to do and that you can do what is in your PRC. You can also get free legal advice after signing a PRC, for example, if you experience problems or have concerns after you have signed.
Below are contacts for free legal advice services in NSW.
Aboriginal Legal Service
1800 733 233
Intellectual Disability Rights Service
1800 666 611
NSW (to contact your local community legal centre) or Family Violence Prevention Legal Service
1300 888 529
Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre
1800 686 587
Telephone Interpreter Service