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3.4.9 Leaving the CEO's care

Last Modified: 25-Jan-2019 Review Date: 29-Sep-2021

Purpose

To guide child protection workers in planning, accessing and providing leaving care supports for young people who are leaving the CEO's care, and to provide post care support to those eligible young people up to 25 years of age.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).

Practice Requirements
 
  • Child protection workers (CPWs) must begin planning for leaving care once a young person reaches 15 years of age. This includes modifying the care plan to reflect the leaving care arrangements. Leaving care planning occurs as part of the care planning process.
  • Child protection workers must consult and plan with all relevant stakeholders, in particular with the young person, to assess leaving care needs.
  • In the initial stages, planning must include an evaluation of the young person's current independent living skills (practical and social living skills and emotional development) and strategies to address areas for development and/or build on existing skills. This will be especially important for a young person with disability.
  • Child protection workers need to plan and facilitate access to appropriate services for young people leaving the CEO's care. Subject to eligibility, CPWs must support young people to apply for eligible entitlements, including Youth Allowance or a Disability Support Pension (whichever is relevant). Youth Allowance or a Disability Support Pension must be applied for from the time a young person turns 16 years of age.
  • Child protection workers must assist the young person to plan goals for their future, including identifying the supports required to achieve them. Young people must be active participants in planning discussions and decisions, and be provided with opportunities to express their satisfaction or otherwise with planning.
  • Where the child is a participant in either the National Disability Insurance Agency National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or WA National Disability Insurance Scheme (WA NDIS) it is important to differentiate between the young person's care plan and the NDIS/WA NDIS support plan, which contains identified 'goals' for the young person.
  • Where there is a discrepancy between the care plan goals and the NDIS/WA NDIS support plan goals, the care plan must take precedence.
  • Special consideration must be given to planning for those young people who do not meet Disability Services, NDIS, WA NDIS or Mental Health Commission criteria but who may require additional supports.
  • Child protection workers must provide information regarding the young person's entitlements, what services are available and how the Department will support them to access these, including post care support. The young person must be fully informed of their right to seek and receive post care assistance and how they can do this.
  • Child protection workers must actively assist the young person to apply for documents they will need as an adult, for example a passport.
  • Young people must be provided with a copy of the modified care plan for leaving care. Child protection workers must check that the plan addresses all leaving care needs and is explained to the young person in a way they can understand. For young people with disability or for whom English is not their first language, it is particularly important to check that the explanation has been provided in a way that can be understood.
  • Child protection workers must consult with the General Law Unit to determine if the young person has any claims relating to criminal injuries compensation or other potential legal claims. This should occur when the young person reaches 15 years of age but no later than 12 months prior to leaving care. Refer to Chapter 3.3: Legal rights of children and caseworker responsibilities.
  • Legal issues are particularly important for young people leaving care and must be included in the modified care plan for leaving care. When a young person leaves the CEO's care, they must be provided with their Child History Folder containing all relevant original documentation. This information must be provided to young people in a manner that is sensitive to the young person's emotional needs and in a way they can clearly understand.   
  • Child protection workers must plan with the young person and any relevant stakeholders what the accommodation needs and arrangements are for the young person post care. The care plan modified for leaving care must include information about where the young person will live from 18 years of age. Arrangements for the young person to move to accommodation that is more independent must be based on an assessment of their practical and other skills, financial supports and capacity to live independently.
  • Planning for leaving care must include consideration of the young person's housing needs, both short and long term. A referral to Housing division for priority social housing must be discussed in detail with the young person, their carer and any other significant persons (such as relevant care team members) and must be recorded as part of the care plan.
  • All leaving care planning, funding, services, referrals and actions must be documented in the care plan and recorded in Assist.

Process Maps

Procedures

  • Eligibility for leaving care and post care assistance
  • Phases of leaving care
  • Planning for leaving care
  • Leaving care fund
  • Leaving Care Services and supports provided by other agencies
  • Accommodation
  • Education and training
  • Financial Arrangements
  • Young people in the CEO’s care who have impaired decision making due to disability or mental illness
  • Providing personal and family information to a young person who is leaving care or has left care
  • Transfer of documentation
  • Post care support
  • The Advocate for Children in Care
  • Eligibility for leaving care and post care assistance

    Under s.96 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), a person qualifies for assistance if:
    • the person has left the CEO’s care
    • the person is under 25 years of age, and
    • at any time after reaching 15 years of age the person:
      • was the subject of a protection order (time-limited) or a protection order (until 18)
      • was the subject of a negotiated placement agreement in force for a continuous period of at least six months, or 
      • was provided with a placement service under s.32(1)(a) of the Act for a continuous period of at least six months.

    Under the Act, all young people who leave the CEO's care are entitled to be provided with any of the following:

    • Personal material or documents held by the Department under s.97.  'Personal material' is prescribed in s.21B Children and Community Services Regulations 2006, and listed in the related resource Children leaving the CEO's care - prescribed personal material
    • Social services to meet the young person's needs under s.98;
    • Assistance (under s.99) to assist to do any one or more of the following:
      • obtaining accommodation
      • undertaking education and training
      • obtaining legal advice
      • finding employment
      • accessing health and counselling services.
    • Financial assistance under s.100 as deemed appropriate.

    As part of their transition from care to independent living, young people must have a say about their leaving care planning as part of their care plan.  Child protection workers must seek the young person's views and involve them to the greatest extent possible in their leaving care planning.

    It is unreasonable to expect that all of the child's needs up to 24 years can be anticipated and documented in the care plan before a child leaves the CEO's care. Young people may face unexpected circumstances after exiting care and will need assistance to address current needs not previously identified in their care plan.

     

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    Phases of leaving care

    The Department uses a three-phased model to support young people leaving care and transitioning to independent living.  The various stages require inter-agency collaboration and rely on cooperation between the young person, carers, other relevant people significant to the young person, CPWs leaving care services and other agencies. 

    Preparation (Phase 1)

    The preparation stage focuses on supporting young people in care aged 15 years of age and over to receive appropriate education and life skills development to make a successful transition to independent living in the future. It is important at this stage to include discussions with the child about the leaving care process and what it means for them. Child protection workers should support the young person to engage with life and independent living skills programs as part of the preparation stage.

    Refer to Leaving Care Checklist for Staff – Phase 1 Preparation (in related resources).

    Transition to independence (Phase 2)

    If a young person enters care after 15 years of age, the transition to independence phase may occur simultaneously with phase one. Preparation for independence assists young people to access and maintain suitable accommodation and entry into further education, training or employment. During this stage it is important to consolidate the development of life and independent living skills and build on the work undertaken as part of the preparation phase. Extra time may be required to support young people with disability.

    Young people should be provided with information about, and referred to a Leaving Care Service. These services are funded and designed to facilitate a supported move to independent living, and assist in developing positive links with other agencies. Young people may be referred to Leaving Care Services by youth agencies as well as the Department, and they may enter, re-enter or leave the service at any stage. 

    Special consideration must be given to planning for those young people who do not meet Disability Services, NDIS, WA NDIS or Mental Health Commission criteria but who may require additional supports.

    The support plans for young people with disability who are part of the NDIS and WA NDIS are informed by two principles: that supports are “necessary and reasonable” and “reviewable and renewable” on an annual basis. Child protection workers should be aware that young people may also be eligible for supports and services relating to psychosocial disability under the NDIS and WA NDIS.

    Planning around the young person’s future and their ongoing accommodation arrangements are key tasks during phase two. Child protection workers must also discuss with the young person what post care supports are available, particularly the process for seeking future support from the Department.

    Refer to the Leaving Care Checklist for Staff – Phase 2 Transition (in related resources). 

    Post care (Phase 3)

    Once the young person has left the CEO’s care, Leaving Care Services provide post care assistance in the form of advice, referral and support in areas of employment, housing, health and other matters. These services provide a point of contact for occasional ongoing supports until the young person reaches 25 years of age. This support includes maintaining safe connections with their biological family and culture.

    As part of the care plan modified for leaving care, post care goals must be clearly defined and planned.

    Child protection workers must also clearly explain to the young person the process for accessing post care supports from the Department and other services. For more information refer to the section Post care support (below).

    Refer to the Leaving Care Checklist for Staff – Phase 3 Post Care (in related resources).

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    Planning for leaving care

    Section 89(5) of the Act recognises that early planning is critical before young people leave care to help ensure a smooth transition from care to independence. This is particularly so for young people who do not have the support of family during the transition.

    The young person's care team, which includes their Department caseworker, will begin planning with the young person from 15 years of age to assess his or her leaving care needs.

    The young person must be central to the planning and preparation process and empowered to be an active participant. Conversations should commence with the young person about what they see themselves doing as an adult. These conversations should occur incrementally to allow the young person time to deal with these life decisions in a supported manner and structured in ways that promote their attendance and participation. Preparation work must also actively involve carers and relevant significant others where appropriate. 

    Where a young person is due to leave the CEO's care, it is the responsibility of the district office that holds case management responsibility to modify each dimension of the care plan to reflect leaving care arrangements. Child protection workers must record in the care plan:

    • the young person's needs in preparing to transition to other living arrangements after leaving the CEO's care, and
    • the steps and measures designed to assist the young person to meet those needs.  

    Planning should be a proactive process that includes establishing which areas the young person requires support with, and any associated costs included in the care plan and approved in Assist. The plan needs to be more than a list of aspirations; it must provide a flexible plan of action that specifies how the young person will access housing, education or training, employment, and health support services.

    The young person's care team has a shared responsibility to support them to develop the life skills and knowledge they will need to live independently. The care team coordinates the tasks and activities necessary to support the young person in accordance with their care plan.

    The care plan should also include, as a minimum, the young person's future goals and the supports (and referral to services) required to achieve those goals until they reach 21 years of age (while maintaining the Department's responsibility under the Act until they reach 25 years of age).

    Child protection workers should use the Viewpoint tool to assist them in identifying leaving care requirements. Young people should be encouraged and assisted to use Viewpoint as an additional instrument for providing input to their plan for leaving care. For further information, please refer to Chapter 3.4: Care planning - provisional care plans, care plans and Viewpoint.

    Legal issues are particularly important for young people leaving care and must be included in the modified care plan for leaving care. Child protection workers will need to consult with the General Law Unit to determine if there are any outstanding criminal injuries compensation claims or other potential legal claims in relation to the young person. This should occur when the young person is 15 years of age or older but no later than 12 months prior to leaving care. The plan should specify how the young person can access or pursue any outstanding claims they may have.

    Refer to Chapter 3.3: Legal rights of children and caseworker responsibilities. 

    Child protection workers are responsible for:

    • encouraging and assisting the young person to undertake further education, or toaccess training and employment opportunities, for example referral to, and liaison with, a community sector job search agency, and
    • assisting the young person to apply for documents that they will need as an adult, such as a birth certificate, Medicare card, Health Care Card, passport, learners/drivers licence, and tax file number and returns.

    Particular attention to planning should occur for young people who are living in rural and remote areas where community support services may be limited or difficult to access.

    Child protection workers must regularly review and update the plan for leaving care in response to changing circumstances to ensure the needs of the young person continue to be met. The young person and any other relevant parties must actively participate in a review and update of the plan.

    For further information on planning, CPWs should refer to the Leaving Care Checklists for Staff (for the relevant leaving care phase) and Transition Guide – planning with young people for leaving care (in related resources). 

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    Leaving care fund

    The leaving care fund has been established to meet the leaving care and post care needs of young people from 15 years of age. The aim of the fund is to: 
    1. Support young people as part of their preparation for leaving care.
    2. Support young adults (under 25 years of age) who have already left care and return seeking assistance.

    The leaving care fund is not means tested and not capped.  It has has its own cost code (02320).  It is not part of a district's budget.  In Assist, the LCF is labelled as 'Leaving Care – New Legislation'.

    If the child is still in care, district case support costs may be supplemented by leaving care funding where required. A range of items may be approved for funding, including, but is not limited to:

    • obtaining a driver’s licence (including the supervised driving hours - refer to Chapter 3.4: Obtaining a motor vehicle learner's permit and driver's licence)
    • educational expenses (excluding university fees where HECS applies), and  
    • obtaining and setting up accommodation.

    Refer to the Leaving Care Services and Funding Information Sheet under related resources.

    Before applying for leaving care funding, CPWs should complete the following steps:

    1. Establish the young person's eligibility for leaving care assistance by checking in Assist and the recorded care plan.
    2. If young person is still in care, modify the care plan to reflect leaving care requirements. If no longer in care, the care plan must not be updated.
    3. For closed cases, workers must create a new Interaction and Intake in Assist.

    For information on managing and accessing funding for eligible young people who return to the Department seeking post care assistance, refer to the section 'Post care support' (below).

    To apply for leaving care funding

    Clear identification of how the young person meets the eligibility criteria for leaving care funding should be included in the care plan (refer to the first section 'Eligibility for leaving care and post care assistance' above).

    Leaving care assistance is approved through the 'Funding' component in Assist.  The category is ‘Provide Leaving Care Assistance’.  When recording the cost items section, the cost type is ‘Leaving Care – New Legislation’.

    Requests can be made for funding for services or goods that may have been identified in the modified care plan. For example, the modified care plan may have identified that the young person plans to obtain a driver’s licence and the costs associated are for driving lessons and supervised driving hours. Child protection workers may refer to the Leaving Care Services and Funding Information Sheet (in related resources), which provides a list of items that may be applied for.

    Child protection workers should check that any relevant concessions and alternative sources of funding are applied for prior to applying for leaving care funding.

    The funding request in Assist is then submitted to the team leader for endorsement and is forwarded on to the assistant district director or district director.  The assistant district director and district director are responsible for approval of all leaving care costs. 

    For full details on applying for leaving care funding, child protection workers should refer to the Assist User Guide – Leaving Care Assistance in related resources.

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    Leaving Care Services and supports provided by other agencies

    Child protection workers must apply for Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or a Disability Support Pension (DSP) - whichever is relevant - on behalf of eligible young people in the CEO's care once they turn 16 years of age.

    It is important that CPWs discuss such payments with carers and young people (where capacity permits) well in advance. Benefits for young people include the opportunity for them to build up savings in preparation for leaving care, and develop budgeting and life skills.  A claim for these allowances will affect carers in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit, so it is important to talk about this early and before making a claim.

    The eligibility criteria for a young person to receive a DSP at 16 years of age includes if he or she has a permanent medical condition (physical, intellectual or psychiatric) that prevents them from working 15 hours or more per week within the next two years.

    Eligible young people subject to a protection order (time-limited) or (until 18), who are not living with their parents, are entitled to receive a DSP or Youth Allowance at the independent rate. Their application is not subject to parental income and assets testing, and may include other additional financial benefits such as $1,000 towards dental care. Centrelink will require verification from the Department that the young person is in the CEO's care.  Child protection workers should refer to Part 1.1 section 320 of the Social Security Guide.

    Child protection workers should refer to the Department of Human Services (DHS) website for details on eligibility criteria and how to make a claim for Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or DSP. It is recommended that child protection workers contact DHS by phone or attend a customer services centre to discuss a DSP, Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY claim.

    Child protection workers should provide advice, advocacy and practical support to the young person and/or their carer to undertake relevant applications. It is the responsibility of the CPW to check that relevant applications are made in a timely manner well before the young person leaves care. Consideration should also be given to whether the young person would be eligible to receive supports under the NDIS. The Department should continue to provide funding only where alternative financial supports or services are not available.

    Leaving Care Services

    The Department funds four Leaving Care Services to which young people should be referred. Between them, the services take referrals from throughout Western Australia for young people between 14 and 25 years of age who are in, or have left, the CEO's care.  Priority is given to those most at risk and who have experienced multiple care arrangements.

    The services are:  

    Leaving Care and Aftercare Service (Mission Australia) 
    Contact: The Manager

    Phone:   9722 4644 / 0427 380 624 / Fax: 9722 4611

    Address: PO Box 6073, 103 Clarke Street, Bunbury, WA, 6230

    Client Target Group:  Young people 14 to 25 years who are, or have been in the CEO's care.

    Catchment Area:  A Bunbury based service covering the south west including Bunbury, Collie, Busselton, Margaret River, Manjimup, Katanning, Gnowangerup and Albany.
     
    Wanslea Leaving Care Service - My Place (Wanslea Family Services)
    Contact:  Manager

    Phone:  9581 5843 / Fax: 9535 3163

    Address:  PO Box 3182, Library Road (off Third Avenue), Mandurah East, WA 6210

    Client Target Group:  Young people 14 to 25 years who are, or have been in the CEO's care .

    Catchment Area:  A Mandurah based service covering the Peel region and Rockingham, south of Safety Bay Road.  
    Transitional Support Service: Moving to Independence (Salvation Army Crossroads West)
    Phone:  9328 1600 / Fax: 9328 1655

    Address:  Level 3, 333 William St, Northbridge, WA, 6003

    Client Target Group:  Young people 16 to 25 years who are leaving long term periods of supported accommodation and care, or have done so in recent years (note, this accommodation may be from SAAP services).

    Catchment Area:  Metropolitan area.

    Transitional Support Service: State-wide (Salvation Army Crossroads West)
    Contact:  Manager

    Phone:  9328 1600 / Fax: 9328 1655

    Address:  Level 3, 333 William St, Northbridge, WA, 6003

    Client Target Group:  Young people 14 to 25 years who are or have been in the CEO's care .

    Catchment Area:  A Perth based service providing support to young people in the metropolitan area and in regional WA (Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Murchison, Pilbara and Kimberley).

     

    Further information is available in the Leaving Care Service - Area Maps on pages 10 and 11 of the Leaving Care Services Referral Form in related resources (open the form and save it to desktop to enter details).

    Referrals to Leaving Care Services

    Referrals to a Leaving Care Service can be made by:

    • child protection workers
    • young people themselves
    • a government or non-government agency involved with the young person, including Aboriginal services, and
    • the young person’s carer/s.

    Referral to a Leaving Care Service should be made as part of the planning for leaving care when a young person turns 15 years of age. Referrers should assess the developmental stage and risk factors for the young person and clarify with them and their carer why the referral is being made.

    The referring worker must make contact with the Leaving Care Service to discuss the referral. A formal, written referral is then submitted to the service, if appropriate. Child protection workers should use the Leaving Care Services Referral form (in related resources - open form and save to desktop to enter details) to make a referral for a young person.

    The information provided in the referral must be current and detailed to assist with a thorough assessment. Inclusion of the young person in the referral process is crucial to help with engagement in the program. It is also preferable to gain the young person’s consent to the referral. The referring officer must consider any cultural and linguistic issues that may have an impact on the referral, assessment and service delivery.

    Carers (including residential carers) and/or biological family, if appropriate, should be informed about the aims of the service and involved in the referral to the service. Ideally, the service may also work directly with birth and extended family or carers.

    Child protection workers need to meet with the Leaving Care Service to discuss the Department’s ongoing assistance and involvement with the young person once they have left care. The discussion should include the post care support provided by the Department, ongoing liaison, and information sharing. Comprehensive information sharing is critical to successful planning and implementation of leaving and post care services.

    When a young person is referred to a Leaving Care Service, CPWs must inform the service of the anticipated date that the young person will leave the CEO's care. Where appropriate, CPWs must invite the Leaving Care Service to participate in relevant care plan meetings from the time the referral is made.

    A copy of the final or modified care plan should be provided to the Leaving Care Service. It must specify the Department's role, the  Leaving Care Service's role, and the roles of other relevant stakeholders.

    Generally, these services also administer the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA). Child protection workers must check that an application for the TILA has been made before seeking funds from the leaving care fund for costs associated with moving to independent living.

    Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA)

    TILA is an allowance of up to $1,500 designed to help young people exiting formal care make a successful transition to independent living. This allowance is used to meet some of the costs associated with moving to independent living. 

    As part of leaving care planning CPWs must discuss with the young person when and how they will be supported to access TILA. The young person and CPW must agree to the use and timing of TILA, and these should align with the goals outlined in the leaving care plan.

    TILA is administered on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS), by a number of non-government organisations in each state and territory. TILA is generally administered in WA by the Leaving Care Services. For young people not engaged with a leaving care service, TILA can be accessed with support from their local district office.

    When a young person requests assistance from the Department to access TILA, the CPW should consult the district's leaving care officer and follow the steps outlined in the TILA flowchart   in related resources.  Each district should have a staff member with access to Centrelink's Unified Government Gateway (UGG) to make online applications for TILA on behalf of young people leaving care. Generally this will be the district 'leaving care officer'.

    There are several steps in the online TILA application process:

    • Assessment: The CPW and young person discuss the leaving care plan. The CPW should also assess whether the young person is eligible for TILA. To assess the eligibility, complete Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) Application Form. When completed retain the form on the young person’s record.
    • Claim lodgement: Once approval has been received from DSS, the CPW (or district ‘leaving care officer’) will complete and submit an electronic claim for TILA payment via the UGG.
    • Accounts Management: Once the application is submitted, the CPW should email Accounts.ManagementMailbox@cpfs.wa.gov.au advising the TILA application has been made (including the young person’s details, lodgement reference number and district making the application).

    Payment from DHS will be made to the Department's (leaving care) account. DHS will provide written advice of the payment to the young person (to the address submitted with the TILA application) and the CPW via the UGG 'Organisational Online Mail System'.

    The CPW then loads a prepaid card (refer to the TILA pre-paid cards 'how to guide' in related resources).  Cards have a maximum limit of $1,000 so two cards totalling $1,500 will be required.. The CPW must assist the young person to sign Form 014 to acknowledge receipt of the funds and actively support the young person to purchase the approved items. The young person must fully expend all funds on the pre-paid cards as they expire in three months from the date of issue.

    More information, including the TILA operational and program guidelines is available on the TILA website. The program guidelines also outline the process for registering and de-registering district staff with the Unified Government Gateway (UGG).

    John Connor Youth Fund

    The Centrecare John Connor Youth Fund provides financial assistance to young people between 15 and 18 years of age who are leaving care and transitioning to independent living.

    An application addressing certain criteria must be submitted. For more information refer to John Conner Youth Fund Guidelines in related resources.

    Further enquires can be made to Centrecare on (08) 9325 6644.

    CREATE

    CREATE Foundation is the peak body representing the voices of all children and young people in care.  CREATE also offers a range of programs targeted at young people leaving care, including the CREATE Your Future program and leaving care grants.

    CREATE Your Future is a life skills program designed to assist young people in the transition to independence from care.  More information on these programs is available on CREATE’s website.  

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    Accommodation

    Child protection workers must plan with the young person and any relevant stakeholders what the accommodation needs and arrangements are for the young person post care. The care plan modified for leaving care must include information about where the young person will live from 18 years of age. Arrangements for the young person to move to accommodation that is more independent must be based on an assessment of their practical and other skills, financial supports and capacity to live independently. The plan should also incorporate contingency arrangements in the event of a breakdown in the young person's living arrangements after they have left care.

    Child protection workers must discuss the range of accommodation support options with the young person and how they can access services that provide support in emergency situations.

    Social Housing Wait List

    An agreement between Child Protection and Family Support and Housing provides for young people in the CEO's care engaged in leaving care planning to be referred to Housing for priority social housing. This option is intended primarily as a contingency plan for those young people who, upon leaving care, have limited or no immediate options for accommodation and would otherwise exit care into homelessness. This option must be discussed in detail with the young person, their carer and any other significant persons (such as relevant care team members) and must be recorded as part of the care plan. Child protection workers must carefully consider managing the potential anxiety around this discussion, both for the young person and carers.   

    For further information refer to the process map Leaving Care Priority Housing List in related resources. 

    Planning for leaving care must include consideration of the young person's housing needs, both short and long term. If as part of the planning at 16 years of age, the CPW determines that there are no other alternatives for the young person's accommodation, they should complete the Leaving Care Priority Housing Wait List Referral Form (in related resources) and email it to: DCP.LeavingCareRegister@housing.wa.gov.au (CPWs must follow the steps outlined in the Operational Guidelines for Priority Housing).

    Along with the Leaving Care Priority Housing Wait List Referral Form CPWs must also include the following completed documentation:

    • Rental Housing Application Form including disability and/or medical information (if relevant)
    • Proof of Identity
    • Proof of Income, and
    • the young person's housing and support arrangements as per leaving care plan; and any supporting medical documentation.

    Please note: Housing cannot progress applications without a completed referral form and all relevant documentation. Referrals are time limited and must be actively progressed and followed up by the CPW. Any questions relating to the referral process should be discussed with the relevant Housing manager.  Applications to Housing must be made when the young person is between 16 years and before 17 years 6 months.  Applications will not be accepted after the young person turns 17 years 6 months as there is not enough time for Housing to allocate a property before the young person turns 18 years of age.

    After receipt of a referral from the CPW, an officer from Housing will arrange a priority housing assessment. He or she will meet with the CPW, the young person and, where appropriate, the young person's leaving care service worker. Prior to the meeting, the CPW must assist the young person to complete an Application for Rental Housing. The Housing manager can also provide information and advice on the available options for the young person.

    Placing a young person on the list will provide priority access to social housing, but only after all other options have been fully explored and deemed unsuitable. Child protection workers must explore and plan alternative housing options prior to utilising social housing, which is an option of last resort.

    As a requirement of placing a young person on the social housing wait list, CPWs must endeavour to have a range of appropriate support services in place. These may include:  

    • the young person being linked with a funded leaving care service
    • receiving income support through DHS or other sources, and
    • consideration of voluntary or compulsory income management and accommodation support services.

    Three months before the young person leaves the CEO's care, an officer from Housing will contact the CPW to initiate a second meeting to re-confirm the young person's priority status and eligibility, and to discuss the young person's housing requirements (type of housing, location, vicinity to public transport, education or employment, etc.). As a priority, Housing will then formally begin the process of obtaining a suitable social housing option for the young person.

    In preparation for the re-confirmation (second) meeting the CPW must:

    • attend the meeting with the young person
    • invite the Leaving Care Service worker, where appropriate
    • complete any outstanding documentation (prior to the meeting)
    • fully explore the young person's future housing options
    • if the young person is over 18 years of age, help him or her to complete the Consent Form, and
    • review the support provided by agencies currently engaged with the young person or those to be put in place once the young person has left care/obtained accommodation.

    It is anticipated that only a small number of young people leaving care will be accommodated via this option and CPWs must document all alternative avenues explored. In the event that a housing option becomes available before the young person leaves the CEO's care, the CPW must assess, on a case by case basis, whether the young person has the capacity to move to independent living prior to turning 18 years of age.

    If at any time during the process, it is clear the young person no longer requires priority social housing; the CPW should contact Housing and request he or she be removed from the priority list. However, the young person may remain on the non-priority social housing list in the event they require housing at some point after leaving care. In these circumstances, CPW should follow the process outlined in the Operational Guidelines for Priority Housing Remaining on the Wait List section in related resources.  

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    Education and training

    Where relevant, CPWs must provide assistance for young people to access post-secondary education and training. Planning should occur parallel to the young person's Documented Education Plan, which should form part of their current education. The plan should include information about the young person's individual goals and ambitions for work or further education and the practical supports that will support these goals. For more information on education plans, refer toChapter 3.4: Education.

    Child protection workers must make sure that the young person is receiving any relevant Commonwealth post-secondary education supports to assist in the responsible management of the Department's funds.

    The Commonwealth Department of Education also provides various forms of financial relief to assist prospective Vocational Education and Training (VET) students, based on the prospective student's concession status, unemployment status, or their capacity to pay. Child protection workers should assist young people to access available fee assistance. Further VET information can be found on the Study Assist website.

    In consultation with the district education officer, CPWs should explore the availability of scholarships and training schemes. Consideration should also be given to nominating eligible young people for the annual Achiever Awards.

    The annual Achiever Awards provide financial assistance and encouragement to young people 15 to 25 years of age who have been in care and are undertaking further education and training. Young people who are or have been in care and are currently enrolled in the first year of a degree, diploma, certificate, apprenticeship, traineeship or course at an approved institution, may be eligible for an award.

    Award recipients receive funding to assist with further study and/or training in two amounts – the first half is presented at the award presentation event and the second half after the successful enrolment in the second semester of study or next six months of an apprenticeship. For further information, refer to the Department's website Achiever Awards. 

    TAFE and Training Providers

    Young people leaving care may be eligible to have a full or part waiver of the associated course fees, if they meet the provider's criteria for financial hardship.

    At the point of enrolment, CPWs and Leaving Care Services staff, where appropriate, should assist the young person to explore all financial provisions that may be available to support further education or training.

    District offices should assist young people under 25 years of age who have already left the CEO's care to make an application for a fee waiver as part of post care support. Where a fee waiver application is not successful, eligible young people may be able to access funding for educational expenses from the leaving care fund.

    For further information, contact the relevant provider to discuss the individual needs of the child.

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    Financial Arrangements

    A young person in the CEO's care 15 years of age or over must have a personal bank account.

    A personal bank account should generally be opened in the young person's own name as the sole signatory. If the financial institution requires an adult co-signatory or the Department assesses that this is necessary, the team leader has the delegated authority to be a co-signatory.

    If the team leader with the signatory responsibility changes, the outgoing team leader must inform the bank of the incoming team leader and make the necessary changes so that the young person's access to their account is not affected.

    A carer should not have access to or management responsibility for the young person's personal bank account.

    If a young person's care arrangement changes, the CPW must notify the relevant bank of the young person's new address.

    Before exiting care, CPWs must:

    • inform the young person about the status of his or her financial matters as well as how and when they can access their funds, and
    • make alternative arrangements that are effective on the date that the young person leaves care in respect of:
      • any funds being held in a Special Purpose Trust Account, and
      • where the team leader is co-signatory to a young person's bank account.​ 
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    Young people in the CEO’s care who have impaired decision making due to disability or mental illness

    Child protection workers must focus on transitional arrangements for young people in care with impaired decision making due to disability or mental illness.  This includes making sure that appropriate services and supports are in place when he or she leaves the CEO's care.

    All eligible financial entitlements, such as a Disability Support Pension, must be claimed on the young person's behalf. The young person must also be linked in with appropriate support services provided through state and Commonwealth agencies. Refer to the Disability Services website for details.   

    Young people with impairment or disability are especially vulnerable and it is important to consider the need for a guardian to make major lifestyle, medical, employment and service decisions for them once they reach adulthood.  An administrator may also be necessary to manage the young person's income to avoid exploitation and verify that their living needs are met.

    The Public Advocate is an independent statutory office holder established under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 to protect and promote the rights of any adult with a decision-making disability. For young people who may require Guardianship or Administration after leaving care, CPWs should contact the State Solicitor's Office (SSO) on (08) 9264 1815 or via i.petersen@sso.wa.gov.au as soon as possible upon a child turning 15 years of age, to involve the SSO in the planning process. For further details refer to the MOU between the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Office of the Public Advocate in related resources.

    For information on leaving care supports for young people with disability, consult with the Senior Intensive Support Officer (Child and Carer Connection Hub) on (08) 9222 2874. 

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    Providing personal and family information to a young person who is leaving care or has left care

    A young person who is preparing to leave the CEO's care can obtain their personal information from their case manager.  If a young person wants to get their personal information within two years of leaving care, they can obtain it from any district office. This information can be provided to them informally following a request.

    A person who has been out of care for more than two years and is seeking a copy of their client file must apply to the Freedom of Information Unit for this information. Where required, the Department should assist the person to contact the Freedom of Information Unit.

    A person who has left care or has had any dealings with the Department, and requires specific information about an incident or event, can apply for information from through the Freedom of Information Unit.

    Further information is available on the website under Access to Information (Case Files/Records).

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    Transfer of documentation

    When a young person leaves the CEO's care at 18 years of age, they must be given their Child History Folder containing all relevant original documentation. The young person should be advised that they will receive this information as part of the leaving care planning process. Child protection workers must give this information to young people in a manner that is sensitive to the young person's emotional needs and in a way they can clearly understand.   

    If a young person leaves the CEO's care before they are 18 years of age, the decision to release information contained in their Child History Folder must be made on an assessment of their situation; for example, their level of maturity and ability to manage or keep information. Child protection workers may choose to provide copies of the folder's contents to the young person or their parent/guardian, and invite the young person to contact the Department when he or she turns 18 years of age to obtain the original documents.  

    Please note: Responses to Viewpoint questionnaires are given in confidence and copies should not be released to parents or guardians.   

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    Post care support

    In addition to the support offered by the Leaving Care Services, eligible young people can seek post care assistance from the Department.

    The CEO has a legislated responsibility to provide assistance to eligible young people who have left care until they reach 25 years of age. Young people may approach any district office for support at any time until they reach 25 years of age.

    Each district has a designated leaving care officer to assist young adults who return to the Department for assistance. The role of the leaving care officer is to provide a point of reference for CPWs planning for leaving care and to assist young adults who have left care and return seeking post care support.  

    If a young adult who qualifies for post care support under s.96 of the Act returns to the Department for assistance, they should be given a priority response from the district office they approach. There is no requirement for the young person to return to the district that previously held case management responsibility for them.  The district that the young person approaches for assistance has responsibility to provide them with social services as identified in s.98 - 100 of the Act.

    An assessment of the young person’s request for assistance must be undertaken, including whether he or she meets the legislative requirements for post care support as outlined in the first section 'Eligibility for leaving care and post care assistance' (above).

    Once it is established that the young person is eligible for assistance, a new interaction and intake is required in Assist.  Child protection workers must intake the case as 'Family Support'. The funding is then applied for via the 'Funding' tab.  The task category is ‘Provide Leaving Care Assistance’.  In the cost items section, the cost type is ‘Leaving Care – New Legislation'.

    The funding request is then submitted to the team leader for endorsement and is forwarded on to the assistant district director or the district director for approval. The funds can then be generated to the amount approved.

    After all payments have been made or the invoice comes back as paid, the case must be closed.

    As part of the planning for leaving care, CPWs must confirm that the young person is fully informed of their right to seek and receive post care assistance from the Department, and how they can do this.

    For full details refer to the Assist User Guide – Leaving Care Assistance in related resources.

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    The Advocate for Children in Care

    The Advocate for Children in Care protects and promotes the interests and rights of every child in the CEO's care to make sure they have a say in decisions and actions that affect them, and in the services that are provided to them. 

    The Advocate can provide advocacy services to help young people leaving care to get their voice heard, resolve issues and have decisions reviewed, and support them in using formal complaints and review processes.  

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