To guide child protection workers in responding to safety and wellbeing concerns for a child in the care of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in relation to approved Department of Communities and non-government agency foster, family and significant other carers (carers) and, in principle, to non-government agency employees undertaking direct care work.
The Department has a two tiered response to manage standard of care concerns and safety and wellbeing concerns for children in the CEO's care relating to approved carers:
Tier 1: Carer Standards of Care Assessment is detailed in Chapter 2.1: Responding to standard of care concerns against approved carers. Child protection workers should refer to this entry when the safety and wellbeing concern relates to an approved carer but there is no indication that the child has been significantly harmed or is at risk of significant harm.
A carer investigation is undertaken when an approved carer is the person alleged responsible in a child safety investigation or there are repeated unresolved standard of care concerns.
Child protection workers undertaking the safety child safety investigation must:
The senior child protection worker placement services must:
The DoCU duty investigation officer must:
The DoCU Manager will:
The senior investigator, DoCU will:
For non-government agency employees undertaking direct care work who are not approved under Regulation 4(1) the district director will:
If the carer is also a Department employee, DoCU will consult with Integrity Services Unit (ISU) and include ISU in the joint planning meeting.
Carer investigations may involve multiple child safety investigations and/or multiple districts.
The DoCU may have an additional coordination role in complex carer investigations involving multiple children across districts.
The Carer Investigation Report is completed by the senior investigator DoCU, and is informed by the relevant child safety investigations completed by the CPW. The report is a holistic assessment identifying individual, district and systemic issues that may have impacted on the events.
In general the timeframe, from commencement of the carer investigation intake to completion of the investigation, is 30 days. The Manager DoCU has authority to endorse extension of this timeframe in extenuating circumstances (for example when there is police involvement). The carer investigation is an information gathering and analysis process that informs the decision to proceed or not proceed with the revocation of a carer’s approval.
The process for managing the outcome of carer investigations is as follows:
The Carer Investigation Report will address carer compliance with the five competencies outlined in Regulation 4(1), and will include a recommendation about the ongoing approval status of the carer. The carer should be advised in writing of the endorsed recommendations of the carer investigation and be advised of the process. Where revocation of a carer’s approval is recommended, follow the process set out in Chapter 3.1: Revocation of a carer’s approval (foster, family or significant other).
The documentation is placed on the DoCU's Objective file, the carer's Objective file and, where appropriate, the relevant child’s file.
If an approved carer is charged with, or convicted of, a Class 1 or Class 2 offence under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WWC Act), or any other offence that in our assessment renders the carer inappropriate for child-related work, the Screening Unit (as opposed to the Working with Children Screening Unit) must be notified.
If at any stage during the carer investigation process the Department becomes aware that the carer has been issued with an Interim Negative Notice or a Negative Notice under the WWC Act: