To guide child protection workers to support the education needs of children in the Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) care.
Education provides a critical pathway to employment and meaningful participation in community life; children in care have often experienced disruption to their learning and development as a result of abuse and/or neglect increasing the requirement for additional support and adjustment to meet
Taking part in education can be a difficult experience for children in care, particularly those children that require significant additional educational supports and adjustments to meet their needs.
Children with particular vulnerability include:
Schools provide a safe, stable environment and require the collaborative support of the Department of Communities (the Department) to achieve the best education outcomes for children in care. Child protection workers are encouraged to work in partnership with education and care stakeholders to enhance the educational participation, retention and attainment of children in care.
Education officers and senior education officers are trained teachers with specialist knowledge, skills and experience to help with a wide range of schooling and education supports for children in the CEO’s care.
Child protection workers must consult with an education officer if there is any concern regarding the education needs of a child in the CEO's care. Education officers are available for consultation and service referral in metropolitan and country district offices, residential care and secure care, to assist children in care with school and education issues. Please refer to the Education Services referral flow chart in related resources for guidance on referring to and consulting with an education officer.
Eligible children in care should be enrolled in kindergarten to give them the best opportunity for early learning experiences. Please refer to the Department of Education website, Enrolling in School (in related resources) and the School Education Act 1999 (SE Act 1999) to determine when a child is eligible to start kindergarten.
Child protection workers must support every child in the CEO's care to have an education arrangement that best suits their needs and circumstances.
Under the SE Act 1999, the ‘compulsory education period’ for a child is from the beginning of the year in which the child reaches the age of 5 years and 6 months (pre-primary) until the end of the year in which they turn 17 years and 6 months old; or until they have reached the age of 18 years. See the Department of Education - Enrolling in School (in related resources) and SE Act 1999 for further information.
Most children in the CEOs care attend public schools. However, following assessment on a case by case basis, children can participate in other approved education arrangements.
Child protection workers can refer to the Education Arrangements Information Sheet in related resources for further guidance regarding possible learning pathways and options for children of compulsory school age.
For existing enrolments and where a child has entered care, the child protection worker must send the school principal a completed Form 587 School notification and education planning for a child in the care of the Department of Communities.
For new enrolments, the child protection worker or carer lodges an application for enrolment with the school. Once lodged, the school principal and people significant to the wellbeing of the child should meet to determine the capacity of the school to provide an appropriate program for the child to progress to enrolment.
Further information can be found at the Department of Education – Policies website (in related resources). Including information about how to appeal a decision made by a school to decline an enrolment.
Significant and complex support needs of the child must be shared with the school principal to allow for appropriate teaching and learning requirements to be met.
At the time of enrolment, child protection workers must:
Child protection workers must notify the school (form 585) within 30 working days if:
Child protection workers must consult with an education officer at any time there is concern regarding the enrolment needs for a child in care. Further guidance on enrolment may be sought from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department and the Department of Education in related resources.
Every child in the CEO’s care, of compulsory school age, must have an annually reviewed Documented Education Plan that informs the education dimension of the child’s care plan. The Documented Education Plan should reflect the child’s academic and wellbeing needs for the current school year.
Foster carers are strongly encouraged to attend and participate in Documented Education Planning for children in care.
Child protection workers support Documented Education Planning by:
Child protection workers may seek further guidance from an education officer, the Documented Education Planning Information Sheet and the MOU between the Department and the Department of Education.
Department of Education schools will provide a coversheet that differentiates between children in care that may or may not require academic or wellbeing adjustments. For those children who do require additional support, their coversheet will be accompanied by the supporting plans developed by the school. Detailed information can be found at the Department of Education - Planning for children in care website in related resources. The cover sheet must be recorded in Assist and filed in the child's education file.
Child protection workers must encourage positive attendance at school for all children in care. Where possible, a child should be maintained at his or her current education placement to minimise school transitions as much as possible.
Where a child in care has problematic attendance, a Documented Education Planning meeting or a review must be requested of the school with the intention of working collaboratively to reinstate positive attendance as soon as possible. Child protection workers may find further guidance in related resources Documented Education Planning and Compulsory Attendance Information Sheets.
A child who suffers trauma as a result of abuse and/or neglect is at higher risk of experiencing anxiety, stress or depression and engaging in aggressive or impulsive behaviours. These and other difficulties can affect a child’s participation at school and may lead to school disciplinary absences without timely intervention.
Where there is concern for a child in care’s behaviour or participation at school, the child protection worker must request a Documented Education Planning meeting or a review to be undertaken with the intention of developing or reinstating the child’s positive participation.
Child protection workers must inform schools of any behaviour, medical or mental health concerns that might affect the child’s learning, interactions and participation.
Child protection workers must provide necessary documentation to schools to allow them to access supplementary resources and support for children with disability or severe mental health issues. There are eight categories that attract supplementary resources through Department of Education schools and each category has its own specific criteria, some requiring specific assessment or diagnosis by relevant specialists:
Evidence requirements can be found in the Department of Education's Individual Disability Allocation information sheets located here: Disability Resourcing DOE
Further guidance is provided in related resources:
All schools follow Behaviour Support Management, Exclusion and Student Attendance Policies and children in care are subject to these policies. Further guidance is provided in the following related resources:
Attendance by child protection workers at re-entry from suspension meetings are a key opportunity to work collaboratively with a child's school to determine appropriate interventions to support a child in care to positively engage in the school community.
Children in care may receive tutoring to assist with their specific learning requirements. Where there is concern for a child’s academic development, a child protection worker should request a Documented Education Planning meeting or review and consult with an education officer. Further guidance is provided in the following related resources:
Child protection workers must pay all voluntary fees and contributions for children in care attending public schools.
It is imperative that all uniform, book and stationary requirements are met.
Children in care, between the ages of 15 and 18, may be eligible for a waiver of fees when enrolling in government subsidised training with TAFE or private training provider contracted by the Department of Training and Workforce Development. Further guidance is provided in the following related resource:
Child protection workers should consider the effect of being in care on a child’s academic career. Appointments and visits that interrupt learning or disrupt positive attendance and engagement during the school day should be avoided. It is recommended that child protection workers and carers support children at sports carnivals, school assemblies, graduations, camps and other education/school activities where families are encouraged to be involved. Appointments during school hours must be communicated to the school in advance.
Children and young people up to age 25 who are or who have been in care, can apply to a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for consideration against financial hardship criteria as per the organisation’s policy.
Child protection workers should support the young person in care to enrol with the RTO by confirming their status as a child in the CEO’s care at the time of enrolment, if there is fee waiver eligibility.
When requested by a RTO, child protection workers must verify the young person’s care status as a care leaver. If no waiver is granted, a young person who is eligible for leaving care services under s.96 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (CCS Act) should receive assistance from the Department.
RTO’s Student Services also offer a range of services to support young people in care, such as life skills development, career guidance, job search training, work experience and literacy and numeracy support. Further guidance can be located in related resources and via the RTO:
Child protection workers must refer to the Apprenticeship Agreement Information Sheet in related resources for further guidance.
The annual Achiever Awards provide financial assistance and encouragement to young people aged 15 to 25 years who have been in the care of the CEO and are persevering with their further education and training. The only criteria is that the young person is currently enrolled in the first year of:
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. Proof of continued enrolment is required by the Department in order to process the second payment.
Nominations can be made by the child protection worker, education officer, foster carer, relative or other interested person.
All children in care must have an education file; child protection workers must file the following documents on the child’s education file:
The following education documents must be placed on the child's Child History Folder and File:
Child protection workers are required to update the education dimension
of the Child Information Portal in Assist at least quarterly and anytime there
is a change of education arrangement.