To provide information to staff regarding the procedures and approval process involved in making a secure care arrangement.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities or the CEO’s delegate.
Secure Care Decision Making Tree
The Kath French Secure Care Centre (Secure Care) is a secure care facility. Secure Care is a therapeutic care service, providing planned, short-term intensive intervention for young people aged 12–17 years who are considered to be at immediate and substantial risk of causing significant harm to themselves and/or others, and there are no other options for managing that risk and meeting their needs.
Section 88C of the Act allows the CEO to make an arrangement for the placement of a provisionally protected child or a protected child in a secure care facility. This is referred to as a “secure care arrangement”.
A protected child is a child subject to a protection order (time-limited) or protection order (until 18). A provisionally protected child is a child in provisional protection and care.
Further information can be obtained from the Secure Care Background paper.
Admission to a secure care facility is a measure of last resort and a therapeutic intervention rather than a punitive option.
Admission to a secure care facility can occur in either of two ways:
Criteria for secure care arrangements
A secure care arrangement can be made by the CEO if a protected child or a provisionally protected child meets:
If the child has an Aboriginal background, consultation must occur with the Aboriginal practice leader (or other relevant Aboriginal officer) in the district office. All consultations must be recorded as tasks in the case plans. Refer to Assist User Guide - Case Plan - Case Plan Consultation in related resources).
Under ‘Description’, record:
Criteria for interim orders (secure care)
An interim order (secure care) can be made by the Court if a provisionally protected child meets the legislative threshold under section 134A of the Act. That is, the Court must be satisfied that:
If the CEO places a provisionally protected child in a secure care facility under a secure care arrangement and:
If the Court does not make a continuation order regarding the child, the secure care arrangement must be cancelled and the child must be removed from the facility.
The district applying for an interim order (secure care) must discuss the appropriateness of a secure care arrangement for the child with the Director Secure Care before lodging the application with the Court.
The consultation process is essential in supporting appropriate referrals and preparing Court applications. Secure care is limited to six beds, so the number of admissions and the gender balance must be carefully managed.
The period a child is to spend in secure care (the secure care period) pursuant to a secure care arrangement made by the CEO must be decided as soon as practical after the secure care arrangement is made. The secure care period must be recommended by the district in Form 742 Referral for a Secure Care Arrangement.
The secure care period of a secure care arrangement should be for the time considered necessary to stabilise the child, and must not exceed 21 days.
The CEO may extend the secure care period for a further period not exceeding 21 days if there are exceptional reasons for doing so. The CEO cannot extend the secure care period for a secure care arrangement more than once.
The secure care period pursuant to an interim order (secure care) made by the Court must not exceed 21 days. To extend the secure care period, the CEO must apply to the Court for an extension. The Court may extend the secure care period for a further period not exceeding 21 days if it is satisfied there are exceptional reasons for doing so. The Court cannot extend the secure care period for an interim order (secure care) more than once.
Working hours referrals
Consultation should occur with secure care management prior to developing a referral to obtain guidance in risk threshold assessment.
1. District staff are to complete an assessment of the child’s needs to determine whether the child meets the threshold for a secure care arrangement under s.88C of the Act as set out in the Secure Care Admission Decision Making Tree (in related resources).
2. Child protection workers must complete Form 742 Referral for a Secure Care Arrangement, and provide accompanying information (care plan, provisional care plan and any other relevant assessments, including an exit plan for the child). This must be endorsed by the district director and forwarded to the Senior Manager Secure Care, via email to CPFrontdeskSecureCare prior to the consultation process.
3. In consultation with district staff, a panel comprising the Director Secure Care, Senior Manager Secure Care, senior consultant psychologist and senior child protection worker (the secure care management team) will consider the referral and determine its appropriateness against the legislative threshold as well as against other factors, such as matching and the availability of a secure care bed.
In addition to the legislative threshold, the referral consultation must address:
4. If endorsed by the district director and the Director Secure Care, the secure care referral is forwarded to the Executive Director State-wide and South West for consideration. If not available, the Executive Director State-wide and South East has authority for making secure care arrangements.
In urgent situations, the Director Secure Care has delegated authority to make a secure care arrangement. The proposal for a secure care arrangement is either approved or not approved. Consultation may occur between the district director, Director Secure Care and the Executive Director State-wide and South West if there is concern about the outcome of the referral.
The Director Secure Care will advise the district director in circumstances where an application to the Court for an interim order (secure care) is required under s.133(2B) of the Act because the child is under provisional protection and care. If the referral is approved, application for an interim order (secure care) is made by Legal Practice Services.
5. The secure care arrangement itself will only be made if the child’s whereabouts is known.
If the child’s location is known, the secure care arrangement can be made at the same time as the secure care referral is approved.
If the child’s location is unknown
The relevant district office, or the Crisis Care Unit (CCU), must lodge an Absconder Report with Western Australia Police (WA Police) Missing Person’s Bureau in relation to a child’s absence from a placement arrangement and the issuing of a warrant under s.86 of the Act. Child protection workers should refer to Chapter 2.1: Children who are at risk of being abducted or removed or are missing.
If the child’s location is not known, the referral is approved by the Executive Director as a proposal for a secure care arrangement in respect of the child. Once the child is located, consultation should occur between the Director Secure Care and the child protection worker/district director (or after hours, Crisis Care staff and the district director) to determine whether the child still meets the legislative threshold.
If the child is assessed as still meeting the legislative threshold, the Executive Director will make a secure care arrangement in writing (using Form 745 Secure Care Arrangement). This is forwarded to the relevant district CPFrontdesk managed email and CPFrontdeskSecureCare for recording and storage on the case file in Objective.
6. It is a legislative requirement that the child, parents and carers (and any other person considered by us to have a direct and significant interest in the child’s wellbeing) be notified as soon as practical that a secure care arrangement has been made. All notices about secure care that are required under the Act are issued by the Director Secure Care.
Out of hours referrals
The referral process by Crisis Care Unit (CCU) is the same as that of district referrals during work hours. The CCU must assess the child’s needs against an existing secure care referral using the Secure Care Decision Making Tree (in related resources), or must complete Form 742 Referral for a Secure Care Arrangement. The referral is completed and signed-off by the CCU on-call director and the appropriate CCU officers at that time or as soon as practical.
1. The CCU team leader and/or other staff must consult with the district director responsible for the child to gain their endorsement for a secure care referral. CCU staff must consult with an Aboriginal practice leader as part of making a referral for an Aboriginal child - refer to the section 'Criteria for admission to a secure care facility' above.
CCU staff contact the Secure Care on call Director and email/discuss the secure care referral endorsed by the district director.
The on call Director will consult with the CCU, the district director and others involved in assessing the appropriateness of the referral.
If approved and the child’s location is known
A secure care arrangement can be made (by the Executive Director State-wide and South West if available, or in accordance with the order of authority outlined above) at the same time as approval of the referral, and the child can be transported forthwith to secure care.
2. If a secure care arrangement is made by the Executive Director State-wide and South West or, if unavailable, the Director Secure Care, the CCU makes the practical arrangements for transporting the child to secure care. The CCU may request assistance from secure care, and WA Police if necessary, in transporting the child to secure care. Staff should refer to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Western Australia Police and the Department for Child Protection on transportation of children and young people to secure care (in related resources).
3. The CCU is responsible for completing and forwarding the secure care referral to the secure care facility with accompanying information (care plan and other assessments etc.), and for forwarding all reports to the district director, team leader and child protection worker via the CPFrontdesk.
In this situation, the CCU will be invited to provide a senior representative, where possible, to attend the secure care initial planning meeting.
If approved and the child’s location is not known
An approved secure care arrangement should not be made if the child’s location is not known. The approved referral remains open as a proposal for a secure care arrangement until the child is located. Once located, consideration should be given as to whether the child still meets the legislative threshold for a secure care arrangement to be made.
Transport to secure care
We have the primary responsibility for the child’s transportation to or from the secure care facility.
Secure care transports are to be managed and coordinated by the senior secure care officers or senior manager with support from the district where necessary. Consideration is to be given to the dynamics of the child’s age, gender and known history (risk). Where possible, the child protection worker and another staff member will accompany the child to secure care.
When necessary, the WA Police may be requested to assist in the transportation of a child. WA Police perform this task as agreed in the MOU between the Western Australia Police and the Department for Child Protection on transportation of children and young people to secure care (in related resources).
WA Police may be involved in the transportation of a child to the secure care facility, where possible, under any of the following circumstances:
In other circumstances, we may request assistance from WA Police when it is considered necessary for the safety and security of the child and staff. Unless children are transported by WA Police under s.37, 86, 87 or 88J of the Act, all children transported by WA Police should be accompanied by a Child Protection and Family Support division officer throughout the transportation process. This is important because we have a duty of care for children in the CEO's care.
To request assistance, the senior secure care officer contacts the Officer In Charge (OIC) of the police station nearest the child’s location. The OIC will advise the local police of the relevant history, situation, location and demeanour of the child. Consultation will occur to resolve the time, duration and estimated time of arrival at the destination.
An Absconder’s Report must be lodged with WA Police if a child absconds while under a secure care arrangement, or absconds during transportation to or from the secure care centre.
WA Police, district and secure care staff need to negotiate logistics when transporting a child under a secure care arrangement to the secure care centre from regional areas of Western Australia within 400 kilometres of secure care. Where possible, the trip should be broken into equal portions of travel to ensure the safety and welfare of the child and secure care staff.
Secure care staff may be requested to assist in the transport of a child to secure care if the child is at their place of care but refusing to accompany the child protection worker.
If the child’s location is not known, and it is believed they have absconded, an Absconder’s Report must be lodged with WA Police.
Where possible, the referring district should forward all medical information and treatment plans to secure care prior to admission, including any prescriptions and the child's Medicare number.
As part of the admission process, the child may require an immediate medical assessment. If so, the child is admitted to secure care and then triaged by the secure care nurse (if available). If the nurse is not available and a medical assessment is required, the on-call secure care doctor is contacted, as per the on-call protocol.
A secure care initial planning meeting is held as soon as practical after a child is admitted to a secure care facility and no later than two working days after admission.
The purpose of the secure care initial planning meeting is to share important information and work collaboratively with the child protection worker, other relevant service providers, the child and their family, to develop a plan that identifies:
The district referring the child retains all case management responsibility, including the modification of the care plan or provisional care plan.
The child, his or her parents and carers, and any other person considered by the CEO to have a direct and significant interest in the wellbeing of the child, are invited to participate in the secure care initial planning meeting, where appropriate and at the discretion of the district.
As soon as practical following an admission to secure care, and not more than two working days after, the child’s care plan or provisional care plan must be modified. Modification of care plans or provisional care plans usually occurs at the secure care initial planning meeting. It should be noted that if there has been a State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) decision that has resulted in the modification of the child’s care plan, it must remain in place for 12 months unless a significant change in facts or circumstances, or new facts or circumstances require the modification of the SAT decision (s.89(4) of the Act). Refer to Chapter 3.4: Care planning - provisional care plans, care plans and Viewpoint for details.
Section 88I(5) of the Act requires that the care plan or provisional care plan:
The plan also identifies:
Distribution of the provisional care plan or care plan
A copy of the care plan or provisional care plan should be given to the child, parents, carers and persons considered to have a direct and significant interest in the wellbeing of the child as soon as practical after being prepared or modified.
At times, providing a copy of the child’s care plan (not a provisional care plan) to all parties involved may pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of the child or other persons. This may include circumstances where the care plan may identify or enable the identification of the location of an adult victim of family and domestic violence and/or child – for example, through their placement, contact arrangements or school.
In these instances, a copy of the care plan (not a provisional care plan) can be withheld from the person who poses the risk (s.89(7) of the Act), but he/she must be given written notice of the decision and the reasons for it (s.89(8) of the Act). Full procedural details can be found in Chapter 3.4: Care planning - provisional care plans, care plans and Viewpoint.
A ‘secure care decision’ in relation to a secure care arrangement made by the CEO for a protected child can be ‘reconsidered’ following a written application to the CEO by:
A ‘secure care decision’ refers to:
The CEO can delegate the request for a reconsideration of the secure care arrangement to Executive Director level. The reconsideration of the secure arrangement must not be conducted by an Executive Director who was responsible for, or had direct input into the secure care decisions. If the Executive Director State-wide and South West is unable to carry out the reconsideration of the secure care arrangement, the Executive Director State-wide and South East has authority to reconsider the secure care arrangement.
The application must be in writing (using a Form SC5.1 Application for Reconsideration) and set-out which secure care decision is to be reconsidered, and the grounds on which the reconsideration is being sought.
The outcome of the reconsideration will be either to confirm, vary or reverse the secure care decision. The applicant must promptly be provided with written reasons for the decision.
Action upon admission
As soon as possible upon admission to a secure care facility, the protected child is given information about the reconsideration of a secure care decision, including how to apply.
At this point, the protected child is offered assistance to access a legal representative or other advocate (such as the Advocate for Children and Young People in Care) if they wish to discuss making an application for reconsideration of the secure care arrangement. All applications for Legal Aid WA (LAWA) are subject to a merits test, which means that some will be successful and others will not.
If requested, senior secure care staff also help the protected child make a written application for reconsideration (Form SC5.1). The application must indicate which of the decisions is to be reconsidered, and the grounds on which it is being sought.
The application is forwarded by the director/senior manager secure care to the Executive Director responsible for the reconsideration, along with all documentation relevant to the secure care decision if that meeting has already occurred.
The Executive Director must complete the reconsideration within 24 hours or as soon as practical after receiving the application, and must give the applicant written notice of his or her decision and the reasons for it. The process of reconsideration and written notice of the decision must be expedited.
The Executive Director advises the director secure care of the outcome of the reconsideration as soon as practical to enable secure care to take any recommended actions.
If an applicant is aggrieved by the outcome of the reconsideration, he or she may apply to the SAT for a review of that decision. Applications must comply with the SAT requirements and young people will need assistance in accessing the relevant help and forms - refer to the website: State Administrative Tribunal.
The director secure care assists a child who wishes to apply to SAT for a review of the reconsideration decision. This may involve accessing a legal representative or another advocate such as the Advocate for Children and Young People in Care. As stated previously, applications for LAWA assistance to make a SAT application are subject to merits based assessment by LAWA.
Transition planning from a secure care facility to a more permanent placement commences at admission and remains part of ongoing assessment, planning and review. All exit and transition care planning, funding, services, referrals and actions should be documented and recorded as part of the secure care initial care planning meeting.
The district retains responsibility for the development and implementation of the child’s transition plan. All stakeholders are involved in planning for the transition.
Child protection workers are responsible for the distribution of all case material to other parties involved in the child's transition plan from secure care.
An exit planning meeting should be held within the last week before the child leaves the secure care facility. Continuity and support are provided through case management by the district after leaving.
Secure care staff collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the transition occurs as seamlessly as possible, and may be involved with follow-up support as necessary/required.
The child's personal property, which includes all personal belongings such as money and personal or valuable items must be returned to them and signed for at the point of exiting the secure care facility.