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2.1.6 Responding to concerns for children in care - standard of care concerns

Last Modified: 30-Oct-2019 Review Date: 01-Mar-2021

Purpose

To assist child protection workers in considering a potential Standard of Concern for a child in the CEO's care. 

Practice Requirements
  • Once standard of care concerns have been raised, you must inform the carer about the concerns and give them the opportunity to respond.

  • Opportunities for Department carers to debrief must be provided with a senior child protection worker placement services (SCPWPS), a Department psychologist or through a referral to an external provider through the Employee Assistance Program.  For details refer to Chapter 3.1 Supporting carers.

  • The Aboriginal Practice Leader must be included for concerns relating to a child and/or a carer identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

  • For carers undergoing a carer assessment while caring for children in a placement approved under s.79(2)(b) of the Act, standard of care concerns or abuse in care allegations must be addressed within the carer assessment.

  • You must consult with the Duty of Care Unit when:

    • during the course of assessing the standard of care concerns, you form the view that there is evidence of harm to the child as a result of abuse and/or neglect, or that the carer does not meet the competencies under the Regulations  

    • if multiple or chronic standard of care concerns become apparent

    • if the outcome of either assessment identifies evidence that suggests an investigation is required to determine whether or not a child has experienced harm.  In this situation you must also consider an Allegations of Abuse in Care response.

  • Where the concerns relate to a Department employee, you and the team leader dealing with the concerns must notify the employee's director.

  • The director must consult Employee Relations and Integrity (ERI) via employee.relations@communities.wa.gov.au when a Standard of Care Concern relates to a Department employee who is providing care to a child in the CEO's care, for example, allegations against residential care workers.  

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Quick reference: Definition, recording and outcome report
  • Carer Standard of Care Assessment and Standard of Care Notifications
  • Standard of Care Concerns and Community Sector Organisation Approved Carers
  • Standard of Care Concerns and Community Sector Organisation Employees
  • Overview

    Standard of Care Concerns are a type of Duty of Care Notification and assessment. This type of notification and assessment is required when concerns have been raised about the standard of care being provided to a child in the CEO's care, and the carer's capacity to meet the competencies under r.4(1)(a)(b) Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 (the Regulations). 

    These concerns must not meet the threshold for a Child Safety Investigation.

    If there are any immediate safety concerns for any children you must adress these as a priority.

    Standard of Care Concerns can be raised about:

    • an approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory;
    • a Department employee providing care to a child; or
    • a Community Sector Organisation (CSO) employee providing care to a child.
    You should use the Interaction Tool twhen required o assist in determining whether concerns meet the threshold for investigation or not. The following are some scenarios when you should apply the Interaction Tool:
    • You have received information or an allegation of possible abuse of a child by a carer, employee or relative
    • You are not sure if a matter pertains to a Standard of Care Concern or an Allegation of Abuse in Care, or
    • You have received three concerns about the same child and same carer within a six month period.

     

    For concerns relating to CSO carers refer to the Revised Interim Community Service Organisation Protocol.

    xxx

    Where the concerns relate to a Department employee, the child protection worker and team leader who are dealing with the concerns must notify the employee's director.

    The director must consult Employee Relations and Integrity (ERI) via employee.relations@communities.wa.gov.au  when a Standard of Care Concern relates to a Department employee providing care to a child in the CEO's care e.g. allegations against residential care workers. 

    If the Department employee is an approved carer and the concern relates to their role as a carer, the guidance below must be followed. Consultation should occur with the Duty of Care Unit and ERI.

    For more information on addressing concerns about employees please refer to the entry  Responding to concerns about Employees.

     

    Actions relating to Standard of Care Concerns include:

    • Carer Standard of Care Assessment (for carer) and
    • Standard of Care Notification (for child).

     

    These actions are not designed to investigate allegations of abuse and/or neglect and determine subsequent harm to a child, as this would occur as part of a Child Safety Investigation. The focus is on assessing and addressing the concern with the carer. 

    Possible Standard of Care Concern scenarios:

    • Inappropriate discipline where there is no physical injury, for example, smacking a child with an open hand on the bottom.
    • Inadequate supervision of the child.
    • Inappropriate behaviour modelling by the carer including substance abuse.
    • The physical environment in the carer's home being potentially unsafe or unhygienic.
    • Verbal interaction with the child that is offensive, intimidating or degrading.
    • Measures used to restrain or contain a child outside guidelines for best practice.
    • Preventing the child from participating in specialised care and treatment that is recommended for adequate developmental progress.
    • Restricting a child's connections to cultural or kinship ties; derogatory comments relating to race, culture, religion, sexual preference and gender.
    • The carer not working cooperatively with Department staff.
    • The carer actively undermining contact between the child and their biological family.
    • Other ongoing concerns that cannot be addressed at a case practice level.
    Standard of Care assessments should be undertaken jointly by the child protection worker and senior child protection worker placement services. Form 461 Standard of Care Assessment Report is designed to be completed collaboratively with information from both roles.        

     

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    Quick reference: Definition, recording and outcome report

    Carer Standard of Care Assessment (for the carer) 

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    A Carer Standard of Care Assessment Notification is recorded for an approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory when:

    • Concerns have arisen about the carer's capacity to meet the competencies.

    AND

    • Concerns do not meet the threshold to record a CSI for the child.  

    Manually generated from the carer's 360 degree view and completed by the Senior child protection worker Placement Services

    Endorsed by the team leader

    Approved by the assistant district director

    Form 461 Standard of Care Assessment Report

    Carer Standard of Care Assessment (for the child) 

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    These Notifications are required for children in the CEO's care where:

    • Concerns have been raised about the standard of care provided by an approved carer or a Department or CSO employee who provides care to the child;

    AND

    • Concerns do not meet the threshold to record a CSI for the child.

    Manually generated from the child's 360 degree view and completed by the Senior child protection worker Placement Services

    Endorsed by the team leader

    Approved by the assistant district director

    Form 461 Standard of Care Assessment Report

      

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    Carer Standard of Care Assessment and Standard of Care Notifications

     

    For carer assessments of carer with children in a placement under s.79(2)(b) of the Act, Standard of Care Concerns or Allegations of Abuse in Care must be addressed as part of the carer assessment.

    A Carer Standard of Care Assessment arises from acts or situations which indicate a carer has failed meet one or more of the competencies as per r.4(1)(a) and (b) of the Regulations. 

    The Regulations state that the individual:

    (i) is able to provide care for a child in a way that promotes the wellbeing of the child, promotes the child's family and interpersonal relationships, and protects the child from harm; and

    (ii) is able to provide a safe living environment for a child; and

    (iii) is able to work cooperatively with officers, a child's family and other people when providing care for a child; and

    (iv) is able to take responsibility for the development of his or her competency and skills as a carer; and

    (v) is a person of good character and repute; and

    (b) a negative notice or an interim negative notice has not been issued to the individual under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004.

    There must also be no evidence that an investigaton is required to determine whether or not a child has experienced harm.

    If you and/or the SCPWPS are unsure about whether the concerns may warrant further investigation the Interaction Tool should be used to assist in making a determination. 

    You and the SCPWPS must consult with the Duty of Care Unit regarding the concerns. 

    The Aboriginal Practice Leader must be included for concerns relating to a child and/or a carer identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.  The consultation must be recorded on Form 456 - Aboriginal Practice Leader Consultation

    If the child or carer are from a culturally and linguistically diverse background you must consider the resources available at the CaLD Resource Library consulting a local cultural advisor or accessing information on the internet.

    You or the SCPWPS make a recommendation to the assistant district director (ADD) if a Carer Standard of Care Assessment should be undertaken for a Department carer. The ADD endorses this recommendation (if they agree) and allocates the Carer Standard of Care Assessment to the SCPWPS, or other senior officer, at their discretion.

    Once the ADD has endorsed the recommendation the following Duty of Care Notifications must be recorded on Assist:

    1. Carer Standard of Care Assessment (for Department carer) - manually generated from the carer's 360 view in Assist by the SCPWPS.

      1. Refer to Minimum information required in all notifications template when completing the notification.

      2. Seek endorsement of the notification from a TL.

      3. Seek approval of the notification from an ADD.

    2. Standard of Care Concern (for child) - manually generated from the child's 360 view in Assist by the CPW.

      1. Refer to Minimum information required in all notifications template when completing the notification.

      2. Seek endorsement of the notification from a TL.

      3. Seek approval of the notification from an ADD or DD.

    You and the SCPWPS can proceed with assessments in relation to the child and carer concurrently. The SCPWPS, or other senior officer, undertakes an assessment of the carer, while the CPW undertakes an assessment of the child.

    Once standard of care concerns have been raised, carers must be informed about the concerns and given the opportunity to respond.

    • Department carers:  opportunities to debrief must be provided with a SCPWPS, a Department psychologist or by a referral to an external provider through the Employee Assistance Program - refer to Chapter 3.1 Supporting carers.
    • CSO carer or employees: debriefing remains the responsibility of the CSO.

     

    Assessment activities

    Carer Standard of Care Assessment

    Standard of Care Concern (child)

    SCPWPS must advise the carer of the Standard of Care concerns and give them an opportunity to respond to the concerns.

    SCPWPS must use the Signs of Safety tools to engage the carer.

    SCPWPS must work with the carer and other relevant people to develop an appropriate response including, implementing and documenting carer supports, monitoring, supervision or training.

    SCPWPS must notify the carer of the assessment outcome, the recommendations, including how, when and by whom they will be implemented.

    If the SCPWPS or senior officer determine that the carer does not meet the competencies under the Regulations they must consult with the ADD and refer to Chapter 3.1 Revocation of carer's approval (foster, family or significant other)

    CPW must consider the opinion of the child involved by having a purposeful discussion with the child, for example, the Three Houses tool, Viewpoint, or completion of the Quarterly Care Report. A Child Assessment Interview is not required and should not be conducted outside a Child Safety Investigation.

    CPW should liaise and support SCPWPS or other senior officer to complete the Carer Standard of Care Assessment.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You and the SCPWPS should consult and liaise throughout your activities to share information and come to a consensus about your outcome reports. This is especially important when it comes to considering the voice of the child in the Carer Standard of Care Assessment.

     

    Outcome reports

    Carer Standard of Care Assessment

    Standard of Care Concern (child)

    • The SCPWPS or other senior officer and child protection worker must complete Standard of Care Assessment Report (form 461) jointly, within 30 working days and forward to ADD for approval. Any extension on this timeframe should be approved by ADD and documented.

    • This report must be placed on the Objective file and forwarded to the Duty of Care Unit via DOCTintake@cpfs.wa.gov.au.  

    The assessment can recommend updates or changes to the Carer Support Plan and/or safety planning to address any changes to behaviours or activities that are required and agreed.

     It is at the district's discretion whether it is appropriate or necessary to notify the child in care's parents of the concerns that have been raised.

     

    If multiple or chronic Standard of Care Concerns become apparent you must re-contact the Duty of Care Unit.

    If during assessment of the Standard of Care Concerns you form the view that there is evidence of harm to the child as a result of abuse and/or neglect, or that the carer does not meet the competencies under the Regulations you must consult with the Duty of Care Unit. 

    If the outcome of either the carer assessment or the Standard of Care Assessment identifies evidence that suggests an investigation is required to determine whether or not a child has experienced harm, the Duty of Care Unit must be contacted for further consultation and consideration must be given to an Allegations of Abuse in Care response.

     

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    Standard of Care Concerns and Community Sector Organisation Approved Carers

    ​This information and guidance should be considered alongside the information provided in the Revised Interim Community Service Organisations Protocols.  

    If…

    Then…

     If a child discloses information that indicates Standard fo Care Concerns in their current care arrangement with a CSO carer to another CSO carers or staff member

    It is the CSO carer or staff members role to listen to the child, believe the child and act on the information by notifying the Department

    ​If the CSO becomes aware of Standard of Care Concerns regarding a CSO carer without the child having made a disclosure​They will notify the Department
    ​​If a child discloses information that indicates Standard of Care Concerns in their current care arrangement with a CSO carer to a Department worker ​​The CPW will immediately inform a senior officer of the CSO and advise what information can be provided to the carer

    The CSO staff should contact the CPW or their team leader during regular work hours or the Crisis Care Unit after work hours.  

    It is not the role of the CSO to raise concerns with the carer or child before consulting the Department.

     

    If…

    Then…

    The CSO report standard of care concerns to the CPW 

    The CPW should:

    • receive and document the concerns
    • determine, through consultation with a TL, what immediate next steps will occur
    • notify the CSO of what information can be provided to the carer or employee as soon as possible, and
    • consult with the Duty of Care Unit.
     

       Roles and responsibilities

                  Department

                   CSO

    Completes a Carer Standard of Care Incident Notification for the carer.

    Completes a Standard of Care Incident Notification for the child.

    Convenes a meeting between the Department and the CSO to discuss:

    • the concerns
    • whether any immediate plans are required to address the concerns and who will undertake these
    • how the child will be supported
    • how the carer will be supported, and
    • any other relevant information. 

    Has a purposeful discussion with the child, using the Three Houses Tool (a Child Assessment Interview must not occur)

    Assesses the impact of the concerns on the child

    Provides any relevant documentation of the concerns to the CSO

    Documents an assessment of the impact on the child using Form 461a Standard of Care Assessment Report for the Child and CSO Carer and either:

    1. invites the CSO to document their assessment of the carer in Form 461a; or
    2. seeks information from the CSO to fill out the relevant sections related to the carer. 

    Advises the carer about the Standard of Care Concerns and gives the carer the opportunity to respond to the concerns.

    Develops, implements and documents an appropriate response including carer supports, monitoring, and supervision or training.

    Advises the carer and the Department of the assessment outcome, and recommendations, including how, when and who will implement them.

    Completes the Outcome Report and forwards to the Department. The CPW includes their comments and recommendations and provides a copy of the final report to the CSO.

    Advises the carer and the Department of the assessment outcome and the recommendations, including how, when and who will implement them.

     

     

     

     

     

    The CSO and CPW should liaise throughout the process of the CSO's assessment, including discussing the actions taken by the CSO, their findings and any recommendations they are likely to make.

    The CPW  must follow up with the CSO to discuss the report, seek a copy and provide feedback.

    The CSO and the CPW should agree with regards to this. 

    If the CSO and CPW and/or District do not agree with the CSO's assessment, they must all meet to resolve this and reach an agreement.

    The CPW places a copy of the final report on the carer's file on Objective. 

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    Standard of Care Concerns and Community Sector Organisation Employees

    ​This information and guidance should be considered alongside the information provided in the Revised Interim Community Service Organisations Protocols.   

    CSO employees are not subject to a Carer Investigation by the Duty of Care Unit.

    The Department makes the decision to classify concerns as either a Standard of Care Concern or an Allegation of Abuse in Care, but the views of the CSO should be taken into consideration as part of the decision-making.

    You must organise an initial planning meeting involving:

    • case managers and a team leader for all the children in the care arrangement
    • a representative from the CSO (nominated by the CSO), and
    • any other relevant staff such as Aboriginal Practice Leaders, psychologists, and education officers, etc.

    The purpose of the meeting is to ensure:

    • all parties are aware of, and have some information about, the concerns
    • the views of all parties are considered
    • clear plans are developed to respond to the concerns
    • appropriate plans are in place to keep the children safe and the carers safe from further allegations (including the perception that they have had the opportunity to influence the children in their disclosures), and
    • the plan addresses how information will be shared with key stakeholders.

    You must record a Duty of Care Notification type of Standard of Care Concern for the child.

    You must not record any notification in relation to the employee.

    As part of assessing the impact on the child you should:

    • have a purposeful discussion with the child, for example, using the Three Houses Tool (you must not conduct a Child Assessment Interview)
    • assess the impact of the concerns on the child
    • provide any relevant documentation of the concerns to the CSO, and
    • document an assessment of the impact on the child using Form 461a Standard of Care Assessment Report for the Child and CSO Carer and either:
      • invite the CSO to document their assessment of the employee in the same document; or
      • seek information from the CSO to fill out the relevant sections related to the employee.

    The CSO may decide to instruct the employee to remain absent from the workplace as a result of the concerns. 

    It is up to the district whether it is appropriate or necessary to notify the child in care's parents of the concerns that have been raised   

    You must notify the CSO of the outcome and any recommendations as a result of your assessment. 

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