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).
Under the Act, all young people who leave the CEO's care are entitled to be provided with any of the following:
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. You 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.
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).
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, must 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:
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).
You should use the Viewpoint tool to assist the young person to identifying his or her 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. You must 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:
You should pay particular attention to planning for young people who are living in rural and remote areas where community support services may be limited or difficult to access.
You must review and update the plan for leaving care regularly, and 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 the flowchart Transition Guide – planning with young people for leaving care.
'Sortli' is short for 'sort out your life' - it is a free mobile app for young people in care that helps them think about their future and plan for their transition from care. It focuses on eight key areas:
Sortli can be introduced to young people from 15 years of age to assist in the leaving care planning phase. You should talk about the Sortli app with young people and help them to access it and use it they want to. Carers and others in a young person's care team may also assist them in using the app.
For further details, you can refer to the information sheets Sortli - Worker's Flyer, and the Sortli Flyer for young people. The Flyer for young people gives information about some of the key features, which you can use to explain what Sortli is to a young person.
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:
Refer to the Leaving Care Services and Funding Information Sheet under related resources.
Before applying for leaving care funding, you must:
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
Update the young person's care plan to clearly identify how the young person meets the eligibility criteria for leaving care funding (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. Refer to the Leaving Care Services and Funding Information Sheet for a list of items that may be applied for.
You should check that any relevant concessions and alternative sources of funding are applied for before 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 (also in related resources).
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 when they turn 16 years of age.
Before doing so, you must discuss these payments with the young person and their carers (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. However, claims for these allowances do affect carers in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit, so it is important to talk about this early and before making a claim.
Eligibility criteria for a young person to receive a DSP at 16 years of age includes whether 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. Refer to Part 1.1 section 320 of the Social Security Guide.
You 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 you contact DHS by phone or attend a customer services centre to discuss a DSP, Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY claim.
You should provide advice, advocacy and practical support to the young person and/or their carer to undertake relevant applications. You are responsible for checking that relevant applications are made in a timely manner well before the young person leaves care. You should also consider 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:
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.
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 .
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.
Phone: 9328 1600 / Fax: 9328 1655
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 Services Referral Form in related resources (open the relevant form and save it to desktop to enter details).
Referrals to Leaving Care Services
Referrals to a Leaving Care Service can be made by:
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 Agency 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.
You must 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, you must inform the service of the anticipated date that the young person will leave the CEO's care. Where appropriate, you 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). You 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 a payment of up to $1,500 from the Australian Government to help eligible young people who are in, or have been in, formal out-of-home care with their successful transition to independence.
Young people can apply for TILA from any Australian state or territory jurisdiction from age 15 years until they turn 26. Unaccompanied humanitarian minors are also eligible for TILA.
If a young person is still in care, you are responsible for talking with them about TILA as part of leaving care planning and at their last quarterly care review before they exit care (as young people can apply for TILA when they are in the process of leaving care or up to 12 weeks before exiting care). You should also advise young people how they can apply for TILA after they have left care, if this suites thier needs better.
When any young person (in care or has exited care) applies for TILA, you should discuss with them what they would like to use the allowance for and how they will be supported to access it.
Young people should use their TILA payment on things that align with the life domains outlined on page 7 of Transitioning from out-of-home care to Independence: A Nationally Consistent Approach to Planning. TILA can be used for a range of expenses, including:
TILA is processed in Western Australia by district offices and/or funded leaving care service providers. Young people can choose which office they would like to visit to help them to access their TILA payment.
The CPW or district staff helping the young person to access TILA should follow the steps outlined in the TILA Flowchart.
CPWs must assess the young person's eligibility to receive TILA. Administration staff (such as the case support officer) can then complete the online application on behalf of the young person.
Young people do not receive the TILA payment directly into their bank account and they are not given the cash equivalent. In order to make a purchase using TILA funds, administration staff must load the prepaid Mastercard to make the purchase. CPWs or their delegate must purchase the goods or services, or the young person can use the prepaid card and provide receipts to the district or leaving care service provider. Information on how to load the prepaid card is in the TILA Prepaid Cards - how to guide. Cards have a maximum limit of $1,000 so two cards totalling $1,500 will be required.
More information, including the TILA operational guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions for Young People is available on the TILA website.
Department of Communities enquiries:
Funded leaving care service providers – contact your agency for TILA payment issues.
 Note that identifying information must not be emailed to TILA@dss.gov.au.
 All queries regarding UGG registrations should be sent directly to NBG.ONLINE.SUPPORT@humanservices.gov.au. DSS no longer keeps a record of registered UGG users and there is no longer any requirement to copy the DSS TILA mailbox into these queries.
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 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.
The Department assists young people in the CEO's care to transition from care to the most appropriate accommodation option, if they need support to do so. In line with leaving care planning, this process can commence from the time they turn 15 until 18 years of age. If this has not occurred at the time of leaving care, young people are still entitled to apply for social housing assistance at any time up to 25 years of age.
When a young person turns 15, you should initiate discussion about future living arrangements. Given the young person may not be leaving care for several years, it is important for you to:
talk with them about the reasons for considering housing and answer any questions he or she, their carer or significant other person may have
be clear that an application for social housing is not binding, but rather ensures that they are not disadvantaged if they require social housing in the future;
with the young person, identify the steps that need to occur to obtain social housing
discuss the different housing options available with them, such as public housing, community housing, private rental and home ownership. For more information about housing options, you should email the email@example.com
identify and work with the young person to develop their independent living skills
Housing application process
As part of the leaving care planning conversation at 15 years of age, complete the Youth Program Application Form, because time on the public housing wait list will begin at this point. Completing an Application for Rental Housing should be made as it is one of the options to consider, however it is not the only option.
Refer to the Operational Guidelines: Housing application process for young people leaving care and those who have left care for more information on the application process and working with Housing to secure appropriate accommodation for young people who are leaving or have left care.
When a young person is due to leave care and/or has left care and has made an Application for Rental Housing, it is important that you advise the young person to let their local Regional Housing Office know of any change of address and to complete the Annual Application Review form so that the application remain active.
Where relevant, you 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 to Chapter 3.4: Education.
You 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. You should assist young people to access available fee assistance. Further VET information can be found on the Study Assist website.
You should consult with the district education officer to 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.
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.
Carers should not have access to or management responsibility for a young person's personal bank account.
If a young person's care arrangement changes, you must notify the relevant bank of the young person's new address.
Before exiting care ,you must:
You 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, you should contact the State Solicitor's Office (SSO) on (08) 9264 1815 or via firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible when the child is 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.
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).
When a young person leaves the CEO's care at 18 years of age, they must be given their Child History Folder which holds all relevant original documentation. You should advise the young person that they will receive this information as part of the leaving care planning process. You 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. You may choose to provide copies of the folder's contents to the young person or their parent or 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 must not be released to parents or guardians.
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. You must:
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, you 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.
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.