To guide child protection workers to respond to situations where a child in the CEO’s care has been, or is at risk of being, abducted or removed without permission by a parent, relative or other person(s) or who goes missing from a placement arrangement.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department for Communities (the Department).
Flowchart - Summary of Actions - CPFS
Where the Signs of Safety assessment identifies that a child may be at risk of abduction or removal by a parent, relative or other person, the child protection worker must consult with the team leader and develop a safety plan to minimise the risk. With the approval of the team leader, an alert must be recorded in Assist (refer to Assist User Guides - Adding, Extending and Completing an Alert in related resources).
A safety planning meeting should be arranged with the parents and other significant persons to discuss and agree on the safety plan. The safety plan must include details of the safety network, danger statement, safety goals, rules of the safety plan, and consequences if the rules are broken. All parties must be aware of what needs to happen should situations change.
The child’s family must be informed at the meeting of our statutory role and authority if this has not already been explained at an earlier Signs of Safety meeting.
Child protection workers must:
If a child in the CEO’s care is abducted or removed without permission, the CPW must advise the team leader and district director of the situation, and make every effort to locate the child and return him or her to their placement, if it is safe and practicable.
When the child’s whereabouts may be known but there are serious safety concerns for the child and/or the child protection worker, the WA Police must be involved in the process of locating and returning the child to their placement.
If the child cannot be located, an alert must be placed in Assist (with the approval of the team leader) and the WA Police notified that the child has been taken unlawfully (telephone 131 444). The police will need specific information about the circumstances of the child’s abduction or unlawful removal from the CEO's care, and any high risk factors. These include:
Section 84 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) enables an authorised officer to require the handover of a child from a carer, parent or any other person who has the care or control of a child who is the subject of a placement arrangement. Non-compliance with such a requirement carries a penalty of $12,000 or imprisonment for one year.
Section 87 of the Act enables an authorised officer or a police officer to apprehend a child without warrant if a person (including a carer) has failed to comply with the requirement under S.84 of the Act and there are reasonable grounds to suspect an immediate or substantial risk to the wellbeing of the child.
If a child has been removed or abducted from the CEO's care, the carers must be provided with support as required. If the carer is not aware of the situation, they must be advised as soon as practicable.
If the child has been removed or abducted by someone other than the child’s parents, or by one of the parents, the child protection worker must inform them (or the relevant parent) as soon as practicable and advise of the actions being taken to locate the child.
Child protection workers must enter an alert in Assist (from the child's 360 degree view) where:
Before placing an alert in Assist, CPWs must discuss the information to be recorded and gain approval from their team leader.
Note: If it is suspected that the child may be taken interstate, an Interstate Broadcast Alert should be requested through the Interstate Liaison Officer: WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au.
For information on alerts and recording, refer to Chapter 4.2: Case alerts and Assist User Guides: Adding, Extending and Completing an Alert.
If a child is missing from their care arrangement, the carer (Department or non-government agency) must:
It is important that the carer provide the police with the following information (the CPW will also need to provide any additional relevant information to enable the police to have as much information as possible):
The police may speak with the carer and/or CPW about what happened prior to the child going missing and check what the child may be wearing.
When we are advised that a child is missing, CPWs must:
In circumstances of high risk, the carer (Department or non-government agency) and CPW must lodge a missing persons report with the WA Police immediately.
High risk factors include where the child:
The WA Police andthe Department have a MOU CPFS and WAPOL Processes When A Child in the Care of the CEO Absconds From a CPFS Residential Care Facility or Secure Care. This MOU forms the basis for the response, including responsibilities and procedures to be undertaken by each agency when a child is missing from a Department residential group home or secure care. The MOU provides a flowchart (Flowchart - Summary of Actions – CPFS in related resources), summarising the actions residential care or secure care workers must adhere to, and a template of the form At Risk Person Assessment CPFS - Absconder Report (in related resources).
Residential group home and secure care staff must follow the procedures set out in the MOU (in related resources).
The CPW, in consultation with the team leader and district director may wish to seek assistance from the public to locate the missing child. During after hours or weekends, staff from CCU will do so on behalf of the district. Where it is deemed appropriate to seek assistance from the public to locate the missing child, this must be approved by the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director, and the Director General, as a media statement will identify the child as being in the CEO's care.
Following approval (or concurrently), the district director must provide as much information about the child as possible to the Director Corporate Communications for a media statement to be prepared. This will include information about:
When the child is found and returned to their placement, the carer must check if the child requires immediate medical attention. If the WA Police are not aware of the child’s return, the carer must notify them as soon as possible. The carer must also notify the CPW or duty officer (or the CCU if after hours) if we are not aware that the child has been located and returned.
Child protection workers must: