What is a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA)?

A VPA is a voluntary agreement between you and the State to place your child temporarily in the State’s custody. The court is not involved unless there is reason to know your child is a member of an Indian tribe, an Alaska native, or your child is not enrolled but there is reason to know your child is eligible to be enrolled in a tribe. 

Your child is placed in out-of-home care.

Your child may be placed with a relative, someone not related to them but with whom they have a relationship with and feel comfortable with (suitable other), or foster care.

While your child is placed in out of home care, you agree to participate in and complete agreed services. 

You may be asked to sign a Family Voluntary Services (FVS) agreement as part of a VPA.

Services may include but are not be limited to parent education, counseling for mental health concerns, and/or substance abuse treatment.

It cannot last longer than 90 days.

It is VOLUNTARY. You do not have to agree to a VPA.

You can revoke the VPA, or ask to have your child returned home, at any time during the VPA. For example, if you decide you want to cancel the VPA between yourself and the Department a week after you signed the agreement, you can contact the Department and tell the Department social worker you are revoking the VPA, and the Department will be required to return your child home unless the Department takes some other legal action such as filing a dependency petition.


What is a Family Voluntary Service Agreement (FVS)?

FVS is an agreement to VOLUNTARILY participate in services. The court is not involved.

Unless the FVS agreement is a part of a VPA, your child is NOT removed from your home while you engage in services.

Services can include but are not limited to parenting education, mental health, substance abuse treatment. 

You agree to follow a safety plan.

It can last up to six (6) months.

It is VOLUNTARY. You do not have to agree to FVS.


What happens if I choose not to do a VPA or FVS agreement?

If you choose to not agree to a VPA or a FVS agreement, several things could happen:

  1. The Department may close your case;
  2. The Department may file a petition for dependency and request that your child remain in your home; or
  3. The Department may file a petition for dependency and request that your child be removed from your home.


What is a dependency?

A dependency is a legal case filed in court asking the judge to step in and give the State temporary legal custody of your child.

A child is dependent if the judge finds your child has been abandoned, abused or neglected by their parent(s) and/or has no parent capable of adequately caring for your child, such that your child is unsafe.

Besides a VPA, your child could be removed from your care before the dependency petition is heard in one of three ways: 

  1. Law enforcement can take your child into protective custody;
  2. A hospital staff person could place a hold on your child; or
  3. The State, without notice to you, can ask the judge to sign a court order to take your child into custody.

If your child is removed, you have the right to have a hearing to ask the judge to return your child home. This is called a shelter care hearing. 

At the shelter care hearing, the judge could return your child home, or place your child in out-of-home care with a relative, someone not a relative but with whom the child has a relationship and feels comfortable with (suitable other), or foster care. 

You have a right to have an attorney represent you in a dependency case. If you cannot afford an attorney, the judge will appoint an attorney to represent you.

At the shelter care hearing, the judge will listen to each side, review any evidence, and decide where to place your child. The judge does not decide at this hearing if your child is dependent or not.