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1.1.1 Parent and adolescent conflict

Last Modified: 26-Jul-2018 Review Date: 01-Jul-2018

Purpose

To provide child protection workers with information and strategies for assisting parents and adolescents in conflict.

Practice Requirements

  • Where the Department of Communities (the Department) is contacted in relation to parent and adolescent conflict, an interaction must be recorded in Assist.
  • If there are concerns for a young person, individual or family’s safety and wellbeing, and further inquiries are necessary, an intake is required. Child protection workers should refer to Chapter 2.2: Assessment and investigation processes for further information.
  • Where possible and appropriate, the child protection workers should engage with the parent(s), or person with parental responsibility, to seek their views on the concerns, prior to 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, the team leader or designated senior officer must approve the delay in contacting the parent(s). However, contact should be made with the parent(s) 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, then the child protection worker is to conduct a safety and wellbeing assessment (SWA) with a harm assessment (HA) when harm or risk of harm is of concern - refer to Chapter 2.2: Assessment and investigation processes.
  • The priority of response should be assigned on the basis of the urgency required to assess if the young person’s wellbeing (including 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.
  • The child protection worker should attempt mediation to assist the parent(s) and the young person, and to enable the young person to return to, or remain in, the family home. It is also important that the child protection worker seeks to mediate with the young person and their family about the issues that have created the situation. Alternatively, referral to a mediation service may be 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 the child protection worker needs to advise the parent(s) of their parental responsibility, irrespective of whether or not the young person returns home, and engage parents in making plans for their child.
  • Child protection workers need to be sensitive to the feelings of distress and powerlessness experienced by parents in such situations and support them appropriately. The child protection worker may also be required to support the young person to remain safe by discussing safety strategies with both the young person and their parent(s).
  • Communities cannot condone sexual relationships involving persons under the age of consent; children under the age of 16 years 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 the team leader is satisfied there are no child protection issues requiring departmental intervention, the parents should be referred 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. 

Process Maps

Not applicable.

Procedures

  • Assessment and follow up options
  • Request for a young person to leave home, or when a young person refuses to return home
  • If the young person chooses to leave home
  • Financial support for children who have left home
  • Assessment and follow up options

    The child protection worker will need to consider if a SWA is required - refer to Chapter 2.2: Assessment and investigation processes. If not, follow up options may include:

    • Department provision of mediation, counselling and problem solving services
    • a referral to Parent Support - refer to Chapter 1.2: Parent Support - referrals and intake, or
    • a referral to external services for families facing parent-adolescent conflict. 
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    Request for a young person to leave home, or when a young person refuses to return home

    Child protection workers need to consider the following points: 

    • The young person and their parent(s) should be involved in making plans regarding the young person’s living arrangements
    • Offering  hostel or foster placement for the young person in the first instance is not recommended
    • Consideration should be given to accommodation with extended family members or family friends acceptable to both the young person and their parent(s).
    • The child protection worker can arrange or facilitate a meeting under s.32(1)(b) of the Act.  If the outcome of this meeting results in a person being identified by the family as able to provide care and accommodation for the young person as 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/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, the child protection worker should make an assessment involving contact with the young person and the parent(s), separately and/or together. Ultimately, a young person’s return home is likely to be dependent on the parent(s) providing an environment conducive to the young person’s return and there being no protective issues regarding the return
    • A SWA will be undertaken where there is a need to gather information if the initial inquiries identify there are concerns about the young person’s wellbeing, harm or significant harm and/or the parent’s capacity to protect the young person, and
    • In situations where a parent or guardian refuses to participate in planning, cannot be found, or is not available, the reasons for his or her unavailability and efforts to engage parents need to be discussed with the team leader and documented. Consideration needs to be given to whether the young person is in need of protection, and whether intervention action is required.
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    If the young person chooses to leave home

    Child protection workers need to 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 when some families cannot stay together. This may be due to a long-standing conflict involving violence and harm. Communities needs 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 section 32(1)(a) of the Act
    • Our preferred option is that the young person to live within their extended family while maintaining links with his/her family. The child protection worker 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, consideration needs to be given to 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, an assessment of the young person’s competence as a mature child or adolescent is required - refer to the resource document Gillick Principle, and
    • in discussion with the young person and parent(s), the child protection worker needs to determine if the unendorsed placement requires assessment by the parent(s) or by Communities. Refer to Chapter 1.3: Homeless young people.
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    Financial support for children who have left home

    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.

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