There are instances when biological or adoptive parents are unable to provide the best care possible for their child. Many times, the best answer is for the child to be placed with foster parents or in a group home setting for a specific length of time.

These out-of-home options can provide the necessary environment for children with behavioral issues, as well as developmental or physical disabilities, to receive the care they need. This can often be accomplished through a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA).

VPAs allow parents to stay involved in a child’s life

Under a VPA, the child’s legal parents do not have to relinquish custody when the child is placed in foster care or a group home. Many describe it as a meaningful approach to foster care, contributing to the child’s health and well-being while relieving stress on families.

The method is seen as a way to provide “necessary care” for children with special needs who benefit from being placed outside the home. Research by the University of Washington suggests that this system of shared parenting is more meaningful as it allows parents to remain involved in their child’s development.

When are VPAs granted?

According to policy guidelines from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families, VPAs are typically limited to 90 days and are usually approved when:

  • A safety threat to the child arises, which cannot be addressed within the home, and services provided within the 90-day period are likely to alleviate the need for a court to intervene
  • A safety threat exists after business hours, and the child is not placed in protective custody by police
  • Parents or legal guardians need temporary care for the child while undergoing medical care or treatment, and there are no other placement resources
  • The child’s other parent or legal guardian is not available to provide care

Weighing the merits of a VPA

Voluntary Placement Agreements are seen by many as a way to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of children while relieving stress and anxiety for families. As with most custody agreements, they involve complicated state laws. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process if it is a good option for your family, and give your case the attention it deserves.