To provide child protection workers with guidance on referral and placement processes for an appropriate placement arrangement within the Department or with a community sector organisation (CSO).
Guidance covers completing a Care Arrangement Referral for a child in the CEO's care before a new care arrangement and when making a referral to the Child and Carer Connection Hub.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).
Care arrangements must be approved by the assistant district director or district director.
All children must have a Care Arrangement Referral completed when they enter care and updated before they move into a new care arrangement.
An approved Needs Assessment Tool must be completed before the initial Care Arrangement Referral can be created. Refer to Chapter 3.4 Needs Assessment Tool for detailed information.
The Care Arrangement Referral must contain up to date, accurate information so that a care arrangement type can be identified that meets the child's immediate and/or long term needs.
The Care Arrangement Referral must also include relevant information to support carers of Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) children to meet their culture and identity needs.
Before making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal child, you must consult with the Aboriginal practice leader or another relevant Aboriginal officer.
You must review and edit information auto populated into the Care Arrangement Referral from the Child Information Portal to check that it is purposeful, relevant and appropriate for release (i.e. does not identify a notifier).
Before making a request to the Child and Carer Connection Hub for a care arrangement, you must consult with your team leader and members of the child's care team to establish that district based family and foster care options, out of district family care, and own district temporary care house (for country districts only), have been exhausted. All requests for alternative care arrangements must be made through the Child and Carer Connection Hub, who will match the most suitable care arrangement based on the child's needs.
Team leaders must approve the Care Arrangement Referral on Assist for district based care arrangements, and endorse Care Arrangement Referrals sent to the Child and Carer Connection Hub for out of district care arrangements.
Children entering care arrangements must be provided with the Charter of Rights for children and young people in care; you should make arrangements to explain the Charter to them in an age appropriate way.
You must provide all carers with a copy of the child's Care Arrangement Referral.
When referring to the Child and Carer Connection Hub, you continue to have responsibility for obtaining a care arrangement for the child. You must remain actively involved throughout the process and attend all planning meetings necessary for the care arrangment to commence, and provide additional information when required.
A home visit must be conducted within one week of a care arrangement; you must familiarise yourself with the case file before conducting the visit.
You must visit all children in CSO care arrangements once a month. Monthly visits must be recorded in Assist.
Temporary or permanent out-of-home care arrangement options are available for children placed in the CEO's care who cannot reside safely with their parents.
The type of care arrangement most appropriate for a child should be informed by, and matched according to the child's needs (as recorded in the Needs Assessment Tool). Children with more complex needs may require a specialist care arrangement. Where possible care arrangements must keep the child safely connected to their family, networks and community.
District based care arrangements are:
Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub occur for:
For Aboriginal children, care arrangements must follow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle priority referred to in Chapter 3.4 Child placement principle:
Before making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal child, you must consult with at least one of the following:
When consulting with an Aboriginal practice leader, record the family identification information on Form 456 Request for Aboriginal Practice Leader Consultation and on the child's case plan on Assist, then forward Form 456 to the Aboriginal practice leader.
Information recorded should also Include evidence that the child placement principle was followed. For example, explaining which family and Aboriginal members of the community were considered and any reasons why the child can or could not be placed into an Aboriginal care arrangement.
The Care Arrangement Referral is a critical planning and service delivery document that must be completed accurately on Assist for all children in care. It is used as both a referral form to match the care arrangement to the child's needs and as information to be given to carers so they are able to meet those needs.
To avoid duplication of information, when you open the initial Care Arrangement Referral information it automatically populates from:
The support evidence and text recorded in the dimensions of the Child Information Portal combine in the Care Arrangement Referral as editable text. Care Arrangement Referrals can be automatically re-populated from the Child Information Portal at any time, or the previous published Care Arrangement Referral can be used as the basis for the new document.
You should complete the rest of the Care Arrangement Referral with any additional information that is relevant to the care arrangement matching process and day to day care of the child. The Care Arrangement Referral is consistent with other care planning documentation and based on the nine dimensions of care. It should be relevant, up to date and identify the child's care arrangement needs. You must also check that the information in it does not contain restricted information such as notifier details, and that it provides relevant contextual information regarding the child needs identified in the Needs Assessment Tool.
You should use information obtained from:
In addition to consultation with the Aboriginal practice leader, you should also consult with specialist staff within the Department (eg, district psychologist, education officers) about the child's care arrangements needs when needed.
Relevant information for the carer includes the child's day to day care needs, strengths, likes and dislikes, fears, level of mobility and routines. This information should support that already auto populated from the Needs Assessment Tool, for example, about how the child's needs have been managed in the past. For children moving from one care arrangement to another, information should also be obtained from the previous carer, care team and CSO agency where appropriate.
You must include all known information for each of the nine dimensions of care in the Care Arrangement Referral, check accuracy and where appropriate edit information from the Child Information Portal.
The dimensions of care are:
If important information about the child's health or safety needs is not available at the time of the care arrangement, you must provide it to the child's carer as soon as possible after the care arrangement is made.
In addition, you should record professional contacts, identify the type of care arrangement sought and if a referral is to be made to the Child and Carer Connection Hub.
For further information about completing the Care Arrangement Referral on Assist please refer to the Assist User Guide – Care Arrangements Referral.
Following completion of the Care Arrangement Referral, you should consult with members of the child's care team to explore what district based care arrangement options may be suitable and available. This is usually care arrangements with either family, significant others or Department carers who are approved with the district.
If a care arrangement with family or other significant carers (in or out of the district) is available and an assessment is required, you must refer to Chapter 3.1 Family or Significant Other Care for the assessment and approval process.
Before any district based family, significant other or foster care arrangement commences, you must obtain the approval of the assistant district director/district director.
Following approval, you must provide the carer with a copy of the Care Arrangement Referral as soon as possible and make the necessary practical arrangements for the child to be taken to the care arrangement.
Your team leader must approve the Care Arrangement Referral on Assist to complete it.
When a district based care arrangement is not available the team leader should endorse the Care Arrangement Referral on Assist and send it to the Child and Carer Connection Hub.
The Child and Carer Connection Hub is responsible for the whole-of-system matching of children with the most appropriate care arrangement according to the child's individual and permanency needs, where a district based care arrangement is not available.
The Child and Carer Connection Hub facilitates and manages requests for care arrangements outside a child's district and liaises with other districts and CSOs. It is also responsible for managing the cross sector foster care panel, foster carer directory, mentor programs, family group homes, specialised fostering program, transitional high needs program and disability program care arrangements.
The Child and Carer Connection Hub may send a Care Arrangement Referral back to the district via Assist when it receives the referral and throughout the process for provision of further information or corrections.
After a referral to the Child and Carer Connection Hub has been made, the district continues to be responsible for obtaining a care arrangement for the child and must remain actively involved with staff from the Child and Carer Connection Hub.
You should not approach any CSO provider directly to discuss possible referrals. Staff at the Child and Carer Connection Hub will liaise directly with possible providers.
CSOs advise the Child and Carer Connection Hub if a care arrangement is available in the following timeframes:
If an urgent care arrangement is required outside these timeframes, for example, when a child needs a care arrangement on the same day, you should contact the Child and Carer Connection Hub as soon as possible to discuss the situation.
When requested, and as part of the matching process, you should liaise with Child and Carer Connection Hub staff to assist in the identification and facilitation of matching possible care arrangements. This may involve discussions and/or matching meetings with potential providers, such as other districts, when considering an out of district foster carer, residential care, temporary care houses in country districts, and CSOs when exploring care arrangements provided by them.
Once a care arrangement is identified by the Child and Carer Connection Hub, you must contact the provider and provide any additional relevant and agency specific information that is required by the carer for the care arrangement to proceed. Relevant information includes plans about the child held by the Department (for example education, identity and culture plans) and relevant reports such as those about heath treatments or psychological assessments.
When a child is placed with a CSO carer, you must record the care arrangement and name and address of carer on Assist.
Referrals to Secure Care require a separate process. For more information refer to Chapter 3.3 Secure Care Arrangements.
Major transitions occur when a child enters care or changes care arrangement. Some transitions may be unplanned – for example, bringing a child into care or an unplanned move to another care arrangement. Transitions can produce grief reactions for the child, their carer, parents and extended family.
Where possible and appropriate, care arrangement transition meetings should take place to plan the transition of the child into the care arrangement. These meetings are an opportunity to:
For district based care arrangements, a care arrangement transition meeting should be held with the carer or own district temporary care house (for country districts only), and other relevant care team members before the child is placed where possible. You should arrange the meeting, and it should be facilitated by an officer identified by the district.
In situations where a care arrangement transition meeting has not taken place before the commencement of a care arrangement, such as an urgent care arrangement, the care arrangement transition meeting should be held as soon as possible.
For referrals made to the Child and Carer Connection Hub, care arrangement transition meetings take place as part of the matching process. You should liaise with the Child and Carer Connection Hub during this process. The Child and Carer Connection Hub will coordinate transition planning and where appropriate facilitate meetings for the following care arrangements:
For other care arrangements:
Transition planning should take place between the district and provider directly once a care arrangement has been identified and approved by the Carer and Connection Hub. You should liaise with the provider to organise the meeting.
Where appropriate the child should be included in transition planning.
Depending on the care arrangement and legal status of the child, care arrangements transition meetings or any post care arrangement planning meetings should take place as soon as possible and within the following timescales:
Where a care arrangement cannot be found, a care arrangement strategy meeting should take place between the district and the Child and Carer Connection Hub. At this meeting, interim strategies must be identified along with identification of further information should that needs to be obtained for an updated Care Arrangement Referral to be made.
You must support the child and carers throughout the process of arranging and making a care arrangement so they understand what is occurring.
You should check that the child has been provided with the appropriate Charter of rights for children and young people in care, and make arrangements to explain it to the child in an age appropriate way. For more information refer to Chapter 3.4 Charter of rights for children and young people in the CEO's care.
At the commencement of all care arrangements (Department and CSO), you must give the following to carers:
You should discuss these documents with the carer or CSO provider so that they have a full and accurate knowledge of the child's needs.
You should accompany the child to the care arrangement, introduce the carer to the child and support the child to settle in and be comfortable. The amount of support needed when taking the child to the care arrangement depends on the child's age and the relationship they may have with the carer. You should answer any queries the child or carer may have.
To assist the child and carer, where relevant, you should: