To inform child protection workers (CPWs) of the Working with Children (WWC) Card application and renewal requirements and processes for foster, family and significant other carers (carers) and other adult household members who provide care or support to a child in the CEO’s care.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities.
The Working with Children (WWC) Screening Unit administers the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WWC Act).
The WWC Check is a compulsory criminal record check required for people who work with children under the age of 18 years in Western Australia (WA). This includes self-employed people, paid employees, employers/organisations, volunteers and unpaid people. Refer to the following documents on the WWC website - https://workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au/:
A WWC Card must be renewed every three years. Information about the application and renewal process can be found at https://workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au/. The following flowcharts detail the application and monitoring processes for carers (see related resources):
If a proposed carer applying for a WWC Card does not have sufficient identity documents or cannot attend an authorised Australia Post outlet as they live in a rural or remote location (for instance they may live in a remote Aboriginal community), he or she must contact the WWC Screening Unit so that special arrangements can be made. If required, CPWs should support the applicant to obtain proof of identity documents needed to lodge the application.
WWC Checks can only be undertaken for people in child-related work. If a carer has a pending application for a WWC Check and a decision has been made that a care arrangement is no longer needed (the carer is not assessed as suitable or that the carer is to be withdrawn), CPWs must advise the Screening Unit that the application is no longer required. The Department's Screening Unit will then notify the WWC Screening Unit. This notification enables the WWC Screening Unit to cease the screening process if the person is not doing any other type of child-related work.
Where the Department provides funding for an out-of-home care service, the funding agreement must stipulate compliance with the WWC Act. The Department must be satisfied of compliance with the WWC Act and other contracted requirements.
All carers, their spouses and defacto partners require the same level of WWC Check screening, as they are all involved in child-related work as defined under s.6(1)(a)(vi) of the WWC Act.
A person cannot be approved as a carer until they have a WWC Card, or have proof of lodgement of an application for a WWC Check. All carers, their spouses and defacto partners are considered to be undertaking child-related work and therefore must apply for a WWC Card. Single carers whose circumstances change (e.g. a new partner moves into their home) must advise the Department of the changes as soon as possible. Their new partner must apply for a WWC Card, and complete Form 395 Record Check Consent Form for criminal and Client and Child Protection Checks to be conducted by the Department's Screening Unit.
Failure by carers to obtain a WWC Card (or to have a pending application) constitutes a breach of the WWC Act. There is a penalty of up to $60,000 and 5 years imprisonment for both the employer and the carer (the Department is considered as 'employing' carers in child-related work).
Adult household members
It is assumed that all adult household members will provide some care or undertake activities with the foster child. They are therefore considered under the WWC Act to be 'employed' by the Department in child-related work, and will require a WWC Check. Examples include looking after the child while the carer is away, transporting the child to school or activities, or assisting the child with activities.
As part of the carer assessment and care arrangement supervision process, the 'duties' of adult household members (what they will be doing with the child) must be clarified. Child protection workers need to explore adult household members' proposed involvement in providing care for the child. If they will not be providing any care, supervision or support to the child (e.g. they have a disability and require a full-time carer, they are an elderly family member unable to provide supervision to a child), this must be recorded in the assessment. If this changes and the adult household member does look after or undertake activities with the child, an application must be made for a WWC Check.
In the exceptional circumstance where an adult household member will not be caring for, supervising or undertaking other activities with the child and does not require a WWC Checks, however, they must still have criminal and Client and Child Protection checks through Department's Screening Unit.
Carers must advise the CPW when a child living in the household turns 18 years of age and becomes an adult household member. The child (now an adult) must apply for a WWC Check.
An Application for a Working with Children Check form (available on the Working with Children website) must be lodged by anyone being assessed to become a carer, after the assessor is confident they will be recommending the applicant to be approved and before a child is placed.
The only exception is where a child is in an urgent placement. In this instance, a Form 562 - Statutory Declaration and Form 395 – Record Check Consent Form must be completed and signed by the family member and all adults in the household before the urgent placement commences. Subsequently, the carer must apply for a WWC Card within five days of the child being placed in their care. In an urgent placement, if the family member or other adult household member/s has not applied for a WWC Card within five days, the child must be removed and the subsidy must cease (see flowcharts in related resources).
A Department worker must complete Part 6 and 7 of the Application for a Working with Children Check form. The Department Screening Unit contact details must be inserted in Part 6 for the Screening Unit to receive the WWC notification letter when a WWC Card has been issued or denied (see example in related resources). Adult household members should note their role as 'Carer Household member' on the application form.
The assessor must request a copy of the Australia Post WWC application receipt from the applicant, which confirms the application has been lodged. The receipt is usually from Australia Post but may be from the WWC Screening Unit where a person has not been able to attend an Australia Post outlet.
The worker must update Assist with the WWC Check receipt number and date of lodgement. The receipt must be provided to the business manager to arrange recoup of the cost to the applicant and for scanning onto Objective. Although this is the preferred method, where it is not possible for an applicant to attend the district office to provide a copy of the receipt in a timely manner (such as rural and remote locations), the applicant can telephone the district office and advise the CPW of the WWC application receipt number. In this instance, the applicant will need to post a copy of the receipt to the CPW at the district office, or give a copy to a remote CPW, who will provide it to the business manager for reimbursement of the cost.
When the WWC Card is issued to the applicant, The Department's Screening Unit is sent the WWC notification letter, which includes a picture of the issued card. The Screening Unit enters the WWC Card information into Assist on behalf of the district and retains the notification letter.
Under the WWC legislation, the WWC Card is valid for three years and portable across all types of child-related work unless there is a new charge or conviction that requires re-assessment of the person's eligibility to hold the WWC Card.
For further details regarding the application process, refer to the flowcharts in related resources
If the applicant already has a WWC Card because of other child-related work, the CPW must:
The WWC information system automatically generates a WWC Expiry Notice. This is sent to the carer three months before their WWC Card expires. The notice is sent to the address last recorded by the WWC Screening Unit.
District offices monitor the status of carers' and adult household members' WWC Cards through the Critical Management Report (CMR) WWC Check – Carer Compliance Report in Assist on a regular basis and remind carers in their district to apply for renewal prior to expiry of their WWC Card.
To reapply for a WWC Card that is close to expiring:
The CPW must contact a carer who has not applied for a new WWC Card one month before the date of expiry of their card. The CPW should assist the carer as much as possible to either renew online or to apply themselves in person at an authorised Australia Post outlet. The carer must be advised to contact their district office if they:
Carers who have still not applied for a new WWC Card
The following must be sent by registered mail to carers who have still not applied for a new WWC Card:
The letter advises the carer they have until the expiry date of the WWC Card to apply, or the child will be removed and the subsidy will cease.
The registered mail lodgement receipt has a tracking number to confirm delivery of the letter. Save the Australia Post lodgement receipt for the letter to the Carer file to facilitate tracking and auditing of this process.
If the carer has not applied to renew their WWC Card by the expiry date of their current WWC Card, CPWs must remove the child and cease the subsidy.
Child protection workers must place an alert on Assist (with district director approval), and send Form 505 Working with Children Card Cessation Notice (in related resources) to the carer via registered mail. The letter states no child will be placed with them until they have a valid WWC Card. Save the registered mail lodgement receipt for the letter to the Carer file.
For further details regarding the renewal process, refer to the flowcharts in related resources.
The state in which a carer was approved is not relevant; it is where the child-related work is provided.
If a child in the CEO's care lives interstate with a WA approved carer, the carer is not required to have a WA WWC Check for care provided in another state or territory. The carer must have a criminal and Client and Child Protection record check (through the Department's Screening Unit) and must comply with legislation that exists in the other state or territory.
If the carer travels with, and provides care to a child in the CEO's care in WA (for example, on a holiday) for a period of up to two weeks in any 12 month period, they are exempt from having to apply for a WWC Check in WA. This exemption, for a carer not ordinarily a resident of WA, only applies during the two week period after the carer arrives in WA and cannot exceed a total of two weeks in any period of 12 months.
If the child is in the care of another state, but is living with a carer in WA, the carer must have a WA WWC Check. The child-related work is being provided in WA and therefore the carer is subject to the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004.
Child protection workers must notify the Department's Screening Unit if:
Please refer to Determining when a Department Record Check is Required in related resources for further information. Child protection workers must consult the Department's Screening Unit if unclear about the type of checks or actions required