To guide child protection workers (CPWs) in using the Needs Assessment Tool (NAT) for children in the CEO's care.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).
The NAT is a case management tool to assist CPWs and the child's care team to consistently identify and assess the complex and changing needs of children in the CEO's care across the dimensions of care. A completed NAT will provide the care team and other relevant partner agencies with readily accessible information to assist with care planning, case management and care arrangement decisions.
Completion of the NAT is a streamlined, standardised process for all children in the CEO's care, to inform:
Benefits of the NAT are outlined below:
Informed capture and cost quotes to support the cultural needs and continuity of connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, particularly those out of country.
Informed care planning decisions.
Informed placement referrals and cost quotes for high needs referrals.
Consistent capture of children's safety and care needs, over time.
A checklist of needs to consider when working with a child.
A standard measure of complexity and need for all children in care at a point in time (whole cohort).
A mechanism to track a child's progress over time in terms of their needs.
An aid to monitor case worker knowledge of caseloads and assessment skills.
A holistic view of the required services and resources, across a number of dimensions e.g. geography, age and cultural background.
Identify and track trends in the complexity of needs of children in care within a district or cohort to inform future service design
Provide evidence to support funding applications and allocation with Department of Treasury.
Provide districts with a mechanism to identify individual or groups of children resources needs and review accordingly.
Child protection workers should obtain information and/or consult those who may have information about the child's behaviours and needs during the previous 12 months. This includes:
When gathering information from the child or family, CPWs should do so sensitively and respectfully, and explain the NAT process and rationale for undertaking the assessment.
Child protection workers should also utilise other written information relevant to the behaviours and needs of the child. This includes internal and external documents (where relevant) from the previous 12 months such as:
The NAT must be completed when a child enters the CEO's care and must be reviewed on an annual basis or when there are significant changes in a child's needs.
Examples of where a review may be required include:
The NAT is integrated in the Child Information Portal. Over the course of the year, relevant information placed on the Child Information Portal may be added to the NAT. For example:
The annual review also allows the NAT to be updated with information from other care planning documents such as the care plan, education plan and culture and identity plan.
Child protection workers should be familiar with the dimensions of care, the child's individual needs and be able to complete the NAT as accurately as possible. The completion of the NAT and subsequent review should be consistent with information about the child's needs in other documents such as care plans and Signs of Safety Assessment and Case Planning forms.
When completing the NAT in Assist CPWs should:
Child protection workers should refer to Completing the Needs Assessment Tool (NAT) – Guidance for child protection workers and care team members (in related resources). The information in the Guidance aligns with the drop down categories in the NAT and provides example indicators to assist workers to identify and assess a child's needs.
Child protection workers should describe the behaviours of a child and the impact of these behaviours. Child protection workers should not apply labels to these behaviours (e.g. autism or FASD) unless the child has been formally assessed with a particular condition or disorder. This is important to prevent the child from being excluded or restricted from accessing particular services.
The NAT must be approved by the team leader and once approved it automatically populates into the Child Information Portal and Care Arrangement Referral. The NAT and Care Arrangement Referral are also published to Objective as standalone documents.
Upon approval of the NAT in Assist, a NAT level (number) will be displayed and a NAT report is generated. This information is created for every child according to their last approved NAT. For NAT level descriptions see Needs Assessment Tool (NAT) Level Descriptors (in related resources).
NAT information can and should only be shared with people who have a role in supporting and planning around the child's needs such as the care team (includes the care arrangement provider and other relevant service providers).
Family and other care team members should be advised of any changes to NAT information and the child's assessed levels of need when updated.
CSOs will receive the NAT report for each child they provide a care arrangement for. This will be provided by the CPW after intake to allow them to make appropriate arrangements for the child. The rationale and evidence behind a particular NAT level classification is provided when supplying the NAT report. CSOs will also receive information regarding the NAT levels for the cohort of children in care arrangements with their organisation.
The Department is committed to working in partnership with CSOs to ensure NATs accurately reflect and record the needs of the child.
The CSO responsible for placing a child must be involved in completing the NAT for that child. Options for consulting with a CSO may include:
If there is disagreement between the CSO and the Department surrounding the NAT levels of a particular child, the CSO should raise this with the CPW. If unsatisfied with the response, the CSO should then contact the team leader or relevant assistant district director. The Department can then provide an additional rationale for the assigning of a NAT level for that child.
The information entered into the NAT represents a 'snapshot' of the child's needs as assessed by CPWs at a particular point in time. These needs may change over time and other information could become available where the NAT will need to be updated. At a minimum CPWs must review and update the NAT on an annual basis and resubmit to the team leader for approval.
To complete the review, CPWs should consult relevant people as needed and utilise information from appropriate documentation about the child's needs.