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3.4.17 Care Arrangement Referral

Last Modified: 06-Nov-2019 Review Date: 01-Apr-2018

Purpose

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).

Practice Requirements
  • 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. 

Process Maps
  1. ​Care Arrangement Referral Flowchart
  2. Care Arrangement Referral Process

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Completing the care arrangement referral
  • District based care arrangements
  • Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub
  • Care arrangement transistion meetings
  • Placing a child in a care arrangement
  • Overview

    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:

    • all family and significant other care arrangements (in and outside the district)
    • Deapartment foster care where the carer is approved with the district, and
    • their own district temporary care house (for country districts only).

    Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub occur for:

    • out of district Department foster care (carers in another district)
    • Department residential care (or another country district temporary care house)
    • CSO foster care
    • CSO family group home
    • CSO specialist fostering program
    • CSO disability placement and support, and
    • CSO transitional high needs program

    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: 

    • placement with a member of the child's family
    • placement with a person who is an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander in the child's community in accordance with local customary practice
    • placement with a person who is an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander
    • placement with a person who is not an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander but who, in the opinion of the CEO, is sensitive to the needs of the child and capable of promoting the child's ongoing affiliation with the child's culture, and where possible, the child's family.

    Before making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal child, you must consult with at least one of the following:

    • the Aboriginal practice leader or other relevant Aboriginal officer
    • an Aboriginal person who has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community, or
    • an Aboriginal agency that has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community

    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.  

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    Completing the care arrangement referral

    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 approved Needs Assessment Tool responses and support evidence, and
    • the child's trauma background information from the Child Information Portal.

    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:

    • the child
    • his or her family
    • the care team
    • others who have knowledge about the child, and any relevant written information that is held by the Department, such as culture and identity plans, and 
    • documents from other agencies, such as school reports, documented education plan and health or medical reports.

    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:

    • Safety
    • Care arrangements
    • Health,
    • Education,
    • Social and family relationships
    • Recreation and leisure
    • Emotional and behavioural development
    • Identity and culture, and
    • Legal and financial.

    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.

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    District based care arrangements

    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. 

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    Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub

    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:

    • CSO foster care (24 hours)
    • CSO family group home (within five days)
    • CSO specialist fostering program (tender process - 10 working days)
    • CSO disability placement and support program (tender process - 10 working days)
    • CSO transitional high needs program (tender process - 10 working days)

    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.

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    Care arrangement transistion meetings

    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:

    • share information about the child and prepare how the care arrangement will meet the child's needs - the child's individual care arrangement requirements, the care plan and contact arrangements between agencies and significant others for the child, and 
    • consider how the child and carer will be supported, including how often the child protection worker will visit as well as other information relevant to the care arrangement.

    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:

    • Out of district Department foster care
    • CSO specialist fostering program
    • CSO disability placement and support program, and
    • CSO transitional high needs program.

    For other care arrangements:

    • CSO foster care
    • CSO family group home, and
    • Department residential care services (or another country district temporary care house),

    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:

    • For children placed in an urgent family or significant other care arrangement, within five days of the child being placed in the care arrangement, so that a case planning decision about whether to proceed with a carer assessment for ongoing care can be made. For further information refer to Chapter 3.1 Family or significant other care.
    • For children placed in CSO foster care, CSO specialist fostering program, CSO disability placement and support program, or CSO family group home care arrangements, within 10 working days.
    • For children moving from one care arrangement to another, as soon as possible so that the child's care plan can be modified on Assist to include the new care arrangements and reflect any other changes

    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.

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    Placing a child in a care arrangement

    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:

    • accompany the carer to show the child around the home and explain the child's known routines and self-care abilities. This may include helping the child to understand where and how they can:
      • play and spend time with the family and others in the care arrangement,  where and when the family spend time together, how access to favourite toys, TV shows and electronic equipment
      • eat, including discussing the availability of food and meals, food likes or dislikes, any issues with eating such as special diets, formula used (for babies)
      • sleep and spend time alone, including any arrangements about alone time, bedtimes and sleeping arrangements such as light on/off, door open or closed, disturbed sleep, bed wetting and so on
      • wash and toilet, such as shower and bathing times, where the toilet is and/or toilet training arrangements
      • dress, including where to change, where clean clothes will be kept and where to put dirty clothing,
      • follow any rules and expectations about access to swimming pools, kitchens and other areas of the care arrangement that may require permission to enter, and
      • follow other important care and safety arrangement information.
    • explain any safety plans completed as part of a child safety investigation (CSI) and/or individual safety plans about the child's behaviours or risks from other children in the care arrangement. This should include discussing emotional support and the management of behaviour such as how to deal with any known issues with drugs, alcohol, peer relationships, sexualised behaviour and/or self-harming behaviours.
    • confirm any contact arrangements with family and friends (including face to face contact, the child's use of any personal mobile telephone, computer and other means of communicating with others for support)
    • highlight critical information from the Care Arrangement Referral about the child's health needs such as medical appointments and current treatments, allergies, pick up and drop off arrangements for school, other study or social clubs attendance
    • establish that there are no inappropriate or dangerous items being brought to the care arrangement by the child, and
    • advise the child and the carer of:
      • your contact details and when you will visit next (This should include a minimum visit within one week of the child being placed and where appropriate, more frequently in the first few days and weeks of the care arrangement),
      • specific dates and/or frequently of ongoing visits, and
      • care team members (where known) and how they will support the care arrangement including arrangements about when the next care team meeting will be held.
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