Family and Community Services (FACS) is the government agency responsible for child protection in New South Wales
FACS has the legal power to remove children from the care of their families but only if they are at risk of significant harm. They must have their decisions looked at by a court. For more information about the legal processes of child removal and for contact details for lawyers who are interested in representing parents check the Family Inclusion Network of NSW website.
Working with FACS
It can be very challenging to work with FACS especially at a time when you are so stressed and worried about what will happen with your child. These are some tips and ideas that other parents have found helpful when working with FACS and FACS caseworkers.
Get legal advice as early as possible
Have a support person with you to help you in your interactions with FACS. This can be a worker, a friend or anyone you trust. It is OK to have a support person with you and it is also OK for you to ask for this person to speak on your behalf if you are feeling very upset. When someone talks on your behalf they are often called an advocate. This means they may ask for services and outcomes that you feel you need and that are good for your kids.
Keep records of all your communications and interactions with FACS. This includes phone calls, emails., letters and meetings. Use a journal to record verbal conversations and ask all decisions to be given to you in writing.
Ask FACS to clearly specify the reasons why your child has been removed and exactly what you need to do to have your child returned to your care. Ask for this to be provided in writing.
Ask for contact with your child as soon as possible.
Provide any information that you feel the foster carer of your child needs to know. If your child is being cared for by someone you know they may still need information that only you have about your child. If you are not able to contact them ask FACS to pass this information on to them.
If you don't know who is caring for your child ask FACS to arrange a meeting with them so you can start to get to know one another. They may not agree to this but it is still worth asking. Good relationships between foster carers and parents lead to better outcomes for kids.
Ask about decision making processes and how you are to be involved.
Come to all appointments and meetings on time.
If you are having a really stressful day and worry that you might not be able to speak to FACS in a helpful way, write down what you would like to say and phone later when you are feeling clearer and calmer
FACS is required to comply with the law at all times. The main area of law that governs what FACS does (and many other agencies including OOHC agencies) is the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, 1998. If this is possible for you, try and spend some time getting to know this Act and how it works. Remember that the law is complex and nothing can replace legal advice about your particular situation. Getting a lawyer is very important. Even if you feel you can trust FACS and you feel there are lots of areas of agreement it is still important to get legal advice and legal representation in court.
Legal Aid NSW can be contacted through their website click here.
The Hunter Valley and Central Coast FACS contact details are listed below. If you want to make a complaint about FACS check our making complaints page here.
Hunter Valley and Central Coast FACS contact details.
FACS website - www.community.nsw.gov.au
Charlestown Community Services Centre (CSC) - 309 Charlestown Road, Charlestown, Tel: 02 4985 1500
Cessnock CSC - 36 Charlton Street, Cessnock, Tel: 02 4993 5000
Edgeworth CSC - 720 Main Road, Edgeworth, Tel: 02 4958 0100
Maitland CSC, - 8 Alfred Close, East Maitland, Tel: 02 4939 3800
Mayfield CSC, - 330 Maitland Road, Mayfield, Tel: 02 4904 8600
Muswellbrook CSC - 6 Market Lane, Muswellbrook, Tel: 02 6542 3444
Raymond Terrace CSC - 29 Port Stephens Street, Raymond Terrace, Tel: 02 4983 4300
Taree CSC - 242 Victoria Street, Taree, Tel: 02 5594 2000
Gosford CSC - 231 - 237 Mann Street, Gosford, Tel: 02 4321 7500
Wyong CSC - 9 Hely Street, Wyong, Tel: 02 4352 6500