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2.1.2 Care arrangements for children considered a risk to others

Last Modified: 21-Aug-2019 Review Date: 01-Apr-2018

Purpose

To guide child protection workers in making appropriate care arrangements ​for children in the CEO's care who are considered a risk to others.

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

Practice Requirements
  
  • Children with a history of extreme violence or sexual assault must not be placed where there are other vulnerable children (that is, younger children or those with developmental delays or a history of previous abuse).

  • The relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director and the Director General must be advised if a child known to be infected with HIV or another blood borne virus is placed in out-of-home care or alternative care.

  • If it is not possible to avoid placing children who pose a risk to others in care arrangements or group care, a safety plan must be put in place to protect others in the residence. In all cases, the assistant district director/​​district director must approve the care arrangement.

  • Child protection workers must record a case alert in Assist where a child has been assessed as being a risk to others – refer to the Assist User Guide – Adding, Extending and Completing an Alert.

  • Carers (carers, residential workers, and family or significant other carers) for a child considered to be a risk to others must be fully informed of any potential risks to themselves or others.

Process Maps

Not applicable

Procedures

  • Considerations when placing a child considered a risk to others
  • Risk assessment
  • Responsibilities
  • Safety plans
  • Information sharing
  • Care arrangements with a carer (including family or significant other carers)
  • Care arrangements in Department or non-government residential care
  • Urgent care arrangements in a residential care facility
  • Transfers
  • Considerations when placing a child considered a risk to others

    Communities' duty of care to others requires that special consideration be given when placing children who are a risk to others.

    Child protection workers must consider the risks that some children may pose to others who live in, visit or work in the residence when placing them in any type of care arrangement, or in situations with others, including:

    • care arrangements (carer, family or significant other care arrangements)
    • Communities' residential group home care arrangements
    • non-government care arrangements including foster care, family and residential group homes, specialised fostering, disability and transitional high needs care arrangements
    • Youth National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) services where Communities has case management responsibility
    • unendorsed placements, and  
    • attendance at camps and other live-in activities.

    Children considered a risk to others exhibit one or more of the following risk factors:

    1. violence towards caregivers, other adults or other children
    2. sexualised behaviours or a history of sexual assault against other children and adults
    3. offending against other children
    4. self-harm and suicidal ideation and other mental health issues which may impact on behaviour
    5. a history of substance use
    6. fire lighting
    7. extensive property damage
    8. mental health issues which may impact on behaviour 
    9. current health issues such as HIV and other blood borne viruses, and
    10. any other known safety issues or risks.

    These risk factors must be considered in the context of the proposed care arrangement​.

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    Risk assessment

    The Signs of Safety approach should be used to identify any risks before care arrangements for the child occurs. 

    Child protection workers must record a case alert where a child has been assessed as being a risk to others. The case alert provides critical information where an after-hours or emergency care arrangement​ is required.  

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    Responsibilities

    Child protection workers must inform the senior child protection worker placement services (SCPWPS), their team leader and assistant district director/​district director about all risks posed by a child when a care arrangement is proposed.

    Once a care arrangement is identified, child protection workers must develop a safety plan to address the risks and have this approved by their team leader and assistant district director/​​district director. All relevant stakeholders should be consulted in the development of the safety plan.

    Referrals to the Central Referral Team (CRT) for a community sector organisation (CSO) care arrangement must include all available information about the risks posed and safety planning when a care arrangement is requested. The CRT will pass this information to the CSO when the referral is made.

    Where the child is able to participate in planning for the care arrangement, he or she should be advised that the information is being shared with the carers and of the terms and conditions under which the care arrangement is to occur.​

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    Safety plans

    Situations need to be managed so that Communities can balance its duty of care to children who may present a risk and to those clients, staff and caregivers who may be placed at risk as a result of having contact with the child.

    The risk some children represent to others requires special consideration when making care arrangements. A safety plan should be developed that is appropriate to the specific circumstances of the care arrangement and the individual child. It is important that the child participates in the development of the safety plan and he or she must be included in the planning process. 

    The safety plan must identify the risks posed by the child and contain specific strategies to mitigate the risks to others. The safety plan should also include strategies in the event of the child wishing to attend a camp or other residential activity. A copy of the safety plan must be given to the care arrangement provider or carer.

    A case alert must be completed in Assist where a child who poses a risk to others has to be placed in a group care facility due to a lack of other options. The case plan should outline the identified risks and safety plan, and be endorsed by the assistant district director/​​district director.

    The case alert must be removed if the child no longer poses a risk in the care arrangement or another care arrangement is found where he or she will not present a risk to others.​

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    Information sharing

    Carers must be aware of the specific risks posed by a child and the strategies to mitigate against these risks. Any person in a care giving role (foster carer, residential care worker, agency carer etc.) must be provided with all relevant information about the child to:  

    • enable them to fully understand the implications of caring for the child, and
    • assist them to care appropriately for the child.

    Where people other than carers have contact with the child, the principle of “need to know” should guide disclosure of information. Circumstances which may justify a “need to know” include situations where the child’s behaviour constitutes a direct risk to others.

    Where a child resides in, or is placed in a small community, such as a remote Aboriginal community, additional precautions may be required to preserve confidentiality of the child’s information.

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    Care arrangements with a carer (including family or significant other carers)

    The risk posed to all members of the household must be carefully assessed and recorded. Care arrangements must not be made until safety factors have been considered and strategies put in place to minimise risk.

    A child with a history of extreme violence or sexual assault must not be placed in a household where there are younger children, children who are vulnerable due to their developmental levels, or children with a history of previous abuse.

    No additional children are to be placed with the carer after a child who presents a risk is placed.

    If additional children come to live in the household outside Communities' control (such as family of the carers), the situation must be:

    • reassessed immediately, and
    • a decision must be made about appropriate action, such as whether the child in the care arrangement needs to be moved or the safety plan amended.

    Background information about the child must be provided to carers. Carers should fully understand what will be involved in caring for a child who poses a risk, and what steps they must take to ensure the safety of others, including visitors to the household. The carer’s role in managing the behaviour, reinforcing therapeutic interventions, and/or dispensing any medication should also be made clear.

    The case plan and safety plan should identify support for the carers and how risk factors will be monitored. For children in remote Aboriginal communities, consultation must occur with the Aboriginal practice leader (or other relevant Aboriginal officer) in the district to identify supports for the carer and to protect other children in the community.

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    Care arrangements in Department or non-government residential care

    It will not always be possible to avoid placing children who pose a risk to others in the same residential group home as other children, especially in urgent situations. However, children with a history of extreme violence or sexual assault should not be placed where there are younger children, children who have developmental delays, or children who are especially vulnerable for other reasons (such as previous abuse).

    If placing the child is unavoidable, a safety plan must be developed and implemented.

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    Urgent care arrangements in a residential care facility

    In emergencies, when it is unavoidable for a child who poses a risk to others to be placed in residential care with other children, extreme caution must be used and a comprehensive safety plan developed to safeguard others in the home. The safety plan must be approved by the Director Residential Care, or by the assistant district director/​​district director for other services. In contentious cases, approval from the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director is required.

    This plan must be reviewed immediately (or on the next working day) if other children are subsequently placed to ensure their safety.

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    Transfers

    Whenever children or families move across district boundaries, or there is a change in the care arrangment, all relevant parties must receive comprehensive information about the background of the case, a copy of the case plan and care plan (for children in the CEO's care), and the safety plan before the transfer takes place.

    Where a child is placed with a carer in another district, a copy of the care plan and safety plan must be forwarded to the SCPWPS responsible for providing support to the carer. This information must also be provided when a case is transferred interstate.

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