To provide child protection workers with information and strategies for assisting parents and adolescents in conflict.
Where the Department of Communities (the Department) is contacted about concerns relating to parent and adolescent conflict, you must record an interaction Assist.
If there are concerns about a young person, individual or family’s safety and wellbeing, and further inquiries are necessary, you must intake the concern. Refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation for further information.
Where possible and appropriate, you should engage with the parents, or person with parental responsibility, to seek their views on the concerns, before seeking information from external sources about the young person or the family. If this action poses an unacceptable risk to the young person’s wellbeing, your team leader or designated senior officer must approve the delay in contacting the parents). However, you should contact the parents as soon as practicable after information is sought from external sources.
After conducting initial inquiries, if there are concerns for the safety and wellbeing of the young person, individual or family, you must conduct a child safety investigation (CSI) with a harm assessment when harm or risk of harm is of concern - refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation.
The priority of response should be assigned on the basis of the urgency required to assess if the young person’s wellbeing and safety is at risk, and what actions, if any, are required to protect the young person, and not necessarily on the significance of harm experienced.
You should attempt mediation to assist the parents and the young person, and to enable the young person to return to, or remain in, the family home. It is also important that you mediate with the young person and his or her family about the issues that created the situation. Alternatively, consider a referral to a mediation service as an option for achieving resolution of the conflict. In some situations, the conflict may be extreme and resolutions may never be achieved. Alternative accommodation may then need to be found.
In some cases, parents may decide they want nothing to do with their child or refuse to have them home. In such cases you need to advise the parents of their parental responsibility, irrespective of whether or not the young person returns home, and engage parents in making plans for their child.
You must be sensitive to the feelings of distress and powerlessness experienced by parents in these situations and support them appropriately. You may also need to support the young person to stay safe by discussing safety strategies with both the young person and their parents.
The Department cannot condone sexual relationships involving children under the age of consent. Children under 16 years of age who are in heterosexual and homosexual relationships are seen to be under the age of “consent” (refer to Chapter 1.1: Sexually active young people). Where parents are concerned about the sexual activity of their child, but where your team leader is satisfied there are no child protection issues requiring the Department's intervention, refer the parents to the Western Australia Police (WA Police). Other options may include family planning or other counselling for the young person.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities.
The child protection worker will need to consider if a SWA is required - refer to Chapter 2.2: Conducting a Child Safety Investigation. If not, follow up options may include:
You must consider the following points:
The young person and his or her parents should be involved in making plans about the young person’s living arrangements
Offering hostel or foster placement to the young person in the first instance is not recommended
Consider accommodation with extended family members or family friends acceptable to both the young person and their parents.
You can arrange or facilitate a meeting under s.32(1)(b) of the Act. At this meeting, if a person is identified by the family as able to provide care and accommodation for the young person in a private agreement, no written agreement is required. In this situation, the young person is not in the CEO’s care and no case management is required. However any decisions, including referral, should be recorded as an interaction task in Assist
Emergency and short term negotiated placement arrangements should only occur when all other appropriate options have been considered. It must be undertaken with the parents’ consent - refer to Chapter 3.4: Negotiated placement agreements.
In cases where the young person has already left home, you should make an assessment on contact with the young person and the parents, separately or together. Ultimately, a young person’s return home is likely to be dependent on there being no protective issues regarding the return and the parents providing an environment conducive to the young person’s return.
A CSI must be undertaken if you need to gather information when initial inquiries identifies concerns about the young person’s wellbeing, harm or significant harm and/or the parent’s capacity to protect the young person.
In situations where a parent or guardian refuses to participate in planning, cannot be found, or is not available, you should discuss the reasons for his or her unavailability and your efforts to engage the parents with your team leader and document these. You must considera whether the young person is in need of protection, and whether intervention action is required.
You must consider the following points:
While parents are responsible for the proper protection and care of their children up until the age of 18 years, there is no ‘legal age’ for adolescents to leave home without parental consent
There are circumstances where some families cannot stay together. This may be due to a long-standing conflict involving violence and harm. You must to assess the situation to determine whether the young person is in need of protection. If the situation does not involve protection issues, another option may be a placement service under s.32(1)(a) of the Act
Our preferred option is that the young person live within their extended family while maintaining links with his or her family. You may assist the family to restore a relationship that will enable the young person to return home or move to long-term stable accommodation
In supporting the young person and family to make accommodation arrangements, you must consider the young person’s cultural and linguistic background and the need for maintenance of links to culture
When a young person is living in an unendorsed pacement, you must assess the young person’s competence as a mature child or adolescent - refer to the resource Gillick Principle.
In consultation with parents, you must determin if the unendorsed placement requires assessement by the parents or by the Department. Refer to Chapter 1.3 Homeless young people.
Financial support is available from the Department to assist the young person and/or the family, either as part of a case plan to work with the family, or when the young person has left home. Refer to Chapter 1.3 Homeless young people.