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3.4.6 Child placement principle

Last Modified: 28-Jun-2018 Review Date: 01-Oct-2017

Purpose

To inform child protection workers of the legislative principles, requirements and cultural considerations that must be applied when providing any child with a placement arrangement. This includes the additional special considerations that must be afforded to Aboriginal children and children of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.

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

Practice Requirements

 
  • When making a placement arrangement for a child, as in performing all functions under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), child protection workers must regard the best interests of the child as paramount.
  • The assistant district director or district director must approve the proposed placement arrangement for a child.
  • Any placement of a child must be considered, as far as is practical, in the following order of priority:
    • placement with a member of the child's family
    • placement with a person from the same culture and religion, and
    • placement with a person who is not from the same culture and religion but who, in the opinion of the CEO, is sensitive to the needs of the child and capable of promoting the child's ongoing cultural and religious needs, and where possible, contact with the child's family.
  • Before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child, child protection workers must consult with at least one of the following:
    • the Aboriginal practice leader (APL) or other relevant Aboriginal officer
    • an Aboriginal person who, in the opinion of the CEO, has relevant knowledge of the child, the child’s family or the child’s community and
    • an Aboriginal agency that has relevant knowledge of the child, the child’s family or the child’s community.
  • Any placement for an Aboriginal child must be, so far as consistent with the child’s best interests and otherwise practical, in the following order of priority:
    • placement with a member of the child's family
    • placement with a person who is an Aboriginal person in the child’s community in accordance with local customary practice
    • placement with a person who is an Aboriginal person
    • placement with a person who is not an Aboriginal person but who, in the opinion of the CEO, is sensitive to the child's needs and capable of promoting the child's ongoing affiliation with the child's culture, and where possible, the child's family.

 

Process Maps

Making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child 

Placement Flowchart.

Procedures

  • Overarching child placement principles
  • Considerations when making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child
  • Considerations when making a placement arrangement for a child from a cultural and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background
  • Overarching child placement principles

    Best practice principles must be applied for all children for whom Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support division makes a placement arrangement. 

    In the first instance placement arrangements are informed by the provisions of the Act that sets out the principles that must be applied in performing any function, or exercising authority under the Act. 

    In determining the best interests of the child (s.8 of the Act), child protection workers must take into account a range of matters which have particular relevance when making a placement arrangement for any child, including:

    • the nature of the child's relationship with the child's parents, siblings and other relatives and with any other people who are significant in the child's life (s.8(d))
    • any wishes or view expressed by the child, having regard to the child's age and level of understanding in determining the weight given to those wishes or views (s.8(f))
    • the importance of continuity and stability in the child's living arrangements and the likely effect on the child of disruption to those living arrangements (s.8(g))
    • maintaining contact with parents, siblings, other relatives and people of significance (s.8(h))
    • the child's age, maturity, sex, sexuality, background and language (s.8(i))
    • the child's cultural, ethnic or religious identity (including any need to maintain connection with the lifestyle, culture and traditions of Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people) (s.8(j)) and
    • the child's physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, developmental and educational needs (s.8(k)).

    The Guiding Principles (s.9 of the Act), and the principle of child participation (s.10 of the Act), inform practice that engages the child, parents and significant others in determining the best possible placement for the child. In doing so, it takes into consideration the full range of the child's needs including the need for safety, stability, contact and continuing relationships, full participation in decision making, sexual, ethnic, religious and cultural identity and belonging, and good health, development and education.

    The first consideration for all children is whether the family can be supported to provide for the child’s wellbeing without Communities making a placement arrangement.  Early intervention and individual and family support services should be considered.  Refer to Chapter 1.2: Family Support and Earlier Intervention for further information.

    Child protection workers must always consider whether placement arrangements can be made successfully:

    • within the child's family
    • within the child's geographic, cultural or social community, or 
    • whether the appropriate use of individual and family support services would make these placement options more possible. 

    Child protection workers may refer to the following entries:

    • Chapter 2.2: Unaccompanied humanitarian minors
    • Chapter 3.1: Care arrangements with a family or significant other carer
    • Chapter 3.4: Placement of siblings
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    Considerations when making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child

    Introduction

    Past policies of removal of Aboriginal children have had a detrimental and lasting effect on the lives of Aboriginal families and communities today.  Such policies attempted to 'absorb' and assimilate Aboriginal children of mixed descent. 

    It is vital in our practice today that connection to family and culture is maintained when Aboriginal children come into care.  The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle is in the Act to make sure that connection is considered within all placement decisions. 

    Consultation process

    Under s.81 of the Act, child protection workers must consult with at least one of the following before making a placement arrangement:

    • an Aboriginal officer
    • an Aboriginal person who, in the opinion of the CEO, has relevant knowledge of the child, the child’s family or the child’s community, and 
    • an Aboriginal agency that has relevant knowledge of the child, the child’s family or the child’s community.

    Child protection workers must consult with an Aboriginal practice leader (APL) or other relevant Aboriginal officer in their district when making a decision to place an Aboriginal child in out-of-home care. 

    In some instances, sensitivity and kinship relationships may influence the involvement of the APL.  In these situations, it may not be culturally appropriate for the APL to be involved in the placement of the child.  Instead, child protection workers should consult awith nd seek advice from other relevant Aboriginal officers.

    In consultation with the APL, or an Aboriginal officer, an Aboriginal organisation may be identified for consultation and advice. The consultation process is to provide child protection workers with information related to:

    • the child's family
    • extended family
    • kinship relationships
    • the child’s cultural identity and skin group
    • local culturally sensitive supports and services, and  
    • other important information.

    Consultation must occur at the time of the initial placement or any placement change.

    Child protection workers should refer to the Aboriginal Cultural Plan Prompt List (in related resources) which may help in gathering information that assists in responding appropriately to the cultural needs of Aboriginal children.

    After hours consultation process

    Where placements are required after hours, child protection workers in the Crisis Care Unit should refer to the 'After Hours Roster' provided by Aboriginal Engagement and speak with the Senior Consultant on call.

    The consultation must be recorded on Form 457 Notification of after hours consultation with an Aboriginal Officer (related resources).

    The form must be scanned and emailed (or faxed) to the relevant district office for follow up and saved on the child's case file.  A copy must also be forwarded to Aboriginal Engagement by close of business on the next working day.

    The APL keeps the original Form 457 Notification of after hours consultation with an Aboriginal Officer on file for auditing purposes.

    Recording

    All consultations (internal and external) must be recorded in the child’s case plan in Assist using the actions drop down list on the main case plan screen. If more than one consultation has occurred, then each should be recorded. Child protection workers should refer to Assist User Guides – Case Plan - Case Plan Consultation (in related resources).

    If a child is identified as Aboriginal, child protection workers must record the placement type in Assist in the 'Living Arrangement' screen, under 'ATSI Child Placement Principle'. 

    District directors must approve all placement arrangements.  

    Cultural Plan

    Child protection workers must develop a Cultural Plan within 30 working days of an Aboriginal child being placed in out-of-home care. The Cultural Plan should address the need to preserve and enhance the child’s culture and connection to country. For assistance, refer to the Aboriginal Cultural Plan Prompt List and Guide to completing the Quarterly Care Review – Identity and Culture (in related resources).

    The Cultural Plan is generated in Assist from a combination of information recorded in the Quarterly Care Review (QCR) and the care plan or provisional care plan. It is a non-editable document published for all children on approval of the planning document. Specific prompt questions are provided in the QCR under the ‘Identity and Culture’ section, and this information from the last approved QCR will auto populate into the child’s care plan (or provisional care plan), which can be amended as required before endorsement by the Aboriginal practice leader and approval of the team leader. The QCR should also be endorsed by the Aboriginal practice leader prior to approval, following which it will publish to the case file as the Quarterly Care Report, as well as populate the read only Cultural Plan and the editable care plan document.  

    Child protection workers, in consultation with an APL or other relevant Aboriginal officer, need to make sure that the ‘Identity and Culture’ section of the QCR is completed as soon as possible.  Child protection workers should include full details of planning for the child’s current and future cultural needs, including considerations such as cultural practices or rites of passage that may affect the child or their care arrangements.

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    Considerations when making a placement arrangement for a child from a cultural and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background

    Consultation process

    In cases involving children from CaLD backgrounds, child protection workers should consider the specific cultural, language and religious needs of the child.  Child protection workers should refer to the CaLD SharePoint Resources Library (in related resources) for information about cultural and religious issues that should be considered in care planning.

    Before engaging a community or religious leader or elder, child protection workers must obtain explicit, written consent from the parents or guardians of the child.   Alternatively, the parents or guardians may request the involvement of community and religious leaders or elders of their own choosing.  Child protection workers must inform the parents or guardians that the credentials and appropriateness of the individual's involvement will be checked before they are engaged.  

    The consultation process and advice is intended to assist child protection workers to explore and understand: 

    • the child's cultural and religious identity 
    • the strength and meaning of kinship relationships
    • local culturally sensitive supports and services, and 
    • other important information.

    Recording

    Child protection workers must record all consultations (internal and external) in the child’s case plan in Assist using the actions drop down list on the main case plan screen. If more than one consultation has occurred, each should be recorded. Child protection workers should refer to the Assist User Guides – Case Plan - Case Plan Consultation for information about recording consultations.

    District directors must approve all placement arrangements.

    Cultural Plan

    Child protection workers must develop a Cultural Plan within 30 working days of a child with a CaLD background being placed in out-of-home care. The Cultural Plan should address the need to preserve and enhance the child’s ethnic and religious identity. Refer to the CaLD Cultural Plan Prompt List (in related resources)

    The Cultural Plan is generated in Assist from a combination of information recorded in the QCR and the care plan or provisional care plan.  It is a non-editable document published for all children on approval of the planning document. Specific prompt questions are provided in the QCR under the ‘Identity and Culture’ section, and this information from the last approved QCR will auto populate into the child’s care plan (or provisional care plan), which can be amended as required before approval by the team leader. Once approved, it will publish to the case file as the QCR, as well as populate the read only Cultural Plan and the editable care plan document.

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