Learn about temporary care agreements

You may not be able to care for your child for many reasons. For example, you may have to leave the country suddenly or need medical care and not have anyone to look after your child.

If you can’t look after your child, a (CAS) may help you place your child in through a temporary care agreement.

A temporary care agreement is a contract between you and CAS where you agree that, for a certain period of time:

  • you can’t care for your child, and
  • your child will be in the care and custody of CAS.

If your child is between the ages of 12 and 15, they have to agree to the temporary care agreement as well. If they don’t agree and CAS is still worried about them, CAS can take them from your home and start a court case.

If your child is 16 or 17 years old, only they decide if they want CAS to care for them. If they don’t agree, CAS can’t take them from your home. But CAS can ask the court for an order to place them in the care of CAS without their consent.

A temporary care agreement might say where your child will live when they are in the care of CAS. For example, your child might live in a foster home.

If your child is in the care and custody of CAS because of your parenting skills, CAS usually expects you to change your situation or improve your parenting skills.

For example, you might agree to place your child in the care and custody of CAS for 4 months while you go to a treatment centre to deal with a drug use issue.

The government has a standard temporary care agreement form. In the form you must agree that you weren’t forced to place your child in the care of CAS and that you will tell CAS if you move or go away for a long time.

In the form, you can also say:

  • if you agree to have contact with your child and be involved in your child’s care
  • who will have contact with your child and be involved in their care if you can’t
  • which services CAS has agreed to give you or your child

Before signing an agreement, you should find out what the CAS worker’s concerns are and what they want you to do about them. For example, they might expect you to:

  • go to a parenting course
  • get tested for drugs
  • show them that your home is safe for your child

Maximum time

A temporary care agreement can last for up to 6 months.

You can agree to extend or change the agreement for up to 6 months each time.

But there is a maximum amount of time that a child can be in the temporary care of CAS by an agreement or . It is:

  • 12 months for a child under the age of 6
  • 24 months for a child aged 6 or older

Once you’ve reached the maximum time, you can’t make another temporary agreement. If CAS thinks it’s safe for your child, they return your child to you.

If CAS doesn’t think it’s safe for your child they can:

  • apply to the court for an order that your child is in need of protection
  • make an agreement with your child if they are 16 or 17 years old

Because CAS can ask the court to put your child in after they’ve spent the maximum time in temporary care, it’s very important to get legal advice before signing a temporary care agreement. 

Visiting your child

Make sure your agreement says what type of access you have to your child. You should see each other as often as possible to keep your relationship strong.

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