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Contact with your child while they’re in care

Learn how we decide contact arrangements and how to ask for changes. Prepare to see your child and get tips to make visits positive and enjoyable.

How contact arrangements are decided

A care and protection order from the ACT Childrens Court will include information about when and how you and others can see your child.

The ACT Childrens Court can decide how contact must take place.

If it is a risk to your child to have contact with you, they may decide you cannot see them.

Most of the time the court will ask Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS) to decide the contact arrangements.

We will make a Contact Plan, which will say who can or cannot have contact with your child. This is part of your child’s Care Plan.

Your child’s Contact Plan

The Contact Plan can include other family members such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings.

Contact can mean:

  • visits (these may be supervised)
  • phone calls and letters
  • email, video calls, social media and text messaging
  • exchanging gifts or photos.

Contact arrangements will follow contact conditions in the care and protection order.

The case manager may consider:

  • previous contact arrangements and their affect on your child
  • observations made by other case managers or contact supervisors
  • information we already have
  • the views and wishes of your child
  • information provided by other family members
  • observations about your child’s behaviour before and after you see them.

Supported contact

The ACT Childrens Court may decide another person will supervise your time with your child. This person may be:

  • a family member
  • someone from CYPS or the out-of-home care agency
  • a representative of a community support service.

This type of contact is called supported contact or supervised contact.

The supervising person will:

  • be there for the whole contact session
  • write their observations about the interaction between you and your child.

Follow the court order

You must always follow the court order. This will show you can work well with everyone involved and can put your child’s interests first.

The ACT Childrens Court and your child’s care team consider your behaviour when they make decisions.

If you do not follow the court order

You will be in breach of the order and the police could charge you. For example, if:

  • you do not return your child at the agreed time
  • you let your child have contact with someone they should not.

Breaching the court order can affect whether your child can return to your care.

Changes to contact arrangements

Changes can only happen if the change is in your child’s best interests.

Who can make changes depends on who made the original decision:

  • If the ACT Childrens Court decided, it must agree on any changes. This means you need to apply to the Court to change your child’s care and protection order.
  • If we decided contact, your child’s care team and other relevant people must agree to the change.

Preparing to see your child

Your child’s case manager will talk to you about:

  • spending time with your child
  • how often it will happen
  • if visits need to be supervised.

They will also talk through any worries you have. This might include transport and help to prepare.

Write down when, where and what time your visits will happen. It may help to:

  • put them on a calendar you see each day
  • have a friend or family member call to remind you the day before.

During visits your child might ask some difficult questions. For example, why they are in care and when they can come home. It is a good idea to think about how you might answer these questions. The case manager or another support person can help you prepare.

If contact with your child is supervised, someone will be with you and make a record of your visit. This may include:

  • what sort of food you provided
  • how you spoke to your child and how they spoke to you
  • if your home was clean
  • if you are drug-affected, depressed and unprepared.

We may use these records during ACT Childrens Court proceedings.

Making contact positive and enjoyable

There are things you can do to make contact enjoyable for you and your child.

Do the same things you did with your child at home:

  • hugs
  • talking
  • eating
  • telling stories
  • playing with toys and games.

Use time with your child to let them know you love and care about them. Most of all have fun with them.

You may not like seeing your child in a strange place or with someone else there. But doing things you used to do together will make your child more comfortable.

You should:

  • Come to the visit prepared with activities and a healthy snack for your child. Do the same if the visit is happening in your home.
  • Arrive on time or call if you are going to be late.
  • Be drug and alcohol free before and during the contact visit. If you attend a visit drug or alcohol affected, the contact supervisor is likely to cancel the visit.

Do not:

  • ask questions about your child’s care arrangements, court proceedings or so on. You should talk to the case manager about these at another time.
  • promise to buy your child toys, take them on holidays, or that they will come home soon if this is not going to happen.

Managing your child’s behaviour and your emotions

  • Ask for help if you have difficulty managing your child’s behaviour during a visit. If another person is there, ask if they can suggest some behaviour management tips.
  • If you feel frustrated or angry during the visit and someone else is there to take care of your child, go for a walk to give yourself time to calm down. Feeling frustrated and angry is common during times of stress. However, if you are angry or frustrated towards your child, or another person at the visit, it can make your child feel uneasy and unsafe. If this happens, the supervisor may end your visit, or we may review the frequency of future visits.
  • Try not to smoke during your visit. If you must have a cigarette, move away so your child is re not exposed to the smoke. Don’t smoke inside while your child visits your home.

Look after your health and wellbeing

Make sure you get professional help and follow your treatment plan if you have a mental health issue, or any other health problem. This will help you make the most of the time with your child.

If you can’t come to the visit

Tell the case manager as soon as possible. Your child can be very excited to see you and become upset when you don’t come.

If your child can't attend a visit

If your child is sick, ask the case manager to arrange another time. Your child can have a catch-up visit at another time.

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Contact us

Child and Youth Protection Services

Case managers
North region 02 6207 1069
South region 02 6207 1466


This page is managed by: Community Services Directorate