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3.1.1 Cross-sector foster carer panel process

Last Modified: 07-Aug-2018 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

Purpose

To guide child protection workers in the role and processes of the Cross-Sector Foster Carer Panel (the Panel) in making recommendations regarding approval of applicants who wish to become foster carers (temporary, emergency and short break or permanent carers) with the Department of Communities.

To guide community service organisations (CSO's) who wish to use the Panel to assist them in making recommendations regarding the approval of foster care applicants.

 

Practice Requirements
  •  A person who applies to become a foster carer with the Department of Communities is assessed against five competencies outlined in the Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 (the Regulations) and a cultural responsiveness competency.  In accordance with the Regulations, the CEO must be satisfied that the applicant:
    • is able to provide care for a child in a way that promotes the wellbeing of the child, promotes the child's family and interpersonal relationships, and protects the child from harm
    • is  able to provide a safe living environment for a child
    • is able to work cooperatively with the officers, a child's family and other people when providing care for a child
    • is able to take responsibility for the development of his or her competency and skills as a carer
    • is a person of good character and repute, and
    • a Negative Notice or Interim Negative Notice has not been issued to the individual under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004.

In addition, the applicant must be able to demonstrate cultural responsiveness to meet the cultural needs of the child.

  • Applicants must undergo an assessment process with a recommendation to be submitted to the Panel.
  • The Panel will review all assessment reports and will endorse or not endorse a recommendation, and provide a clear rationale for the Panel's decision.
  • Final approval is made by the Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub for our applicants and the relevant decision-maker for CSO applicants.
  • The Panel must have a membership of seven and a Panel meeting will not occur unless there is a quorum of four. Either the Chair or Deputy Chair needs to be present and a representative from the Department of Communities as one of the four to make the quorum.
  • The Chair or Deputy Chair has the casting vote in the event of a deadlock.
  • If the assessment is completed by a CSO assessor, the respective representative from the CSO must send a Notification of Foster Care Assessment Form to the coordinator of the Central Foster Carer Directory of Western Australia (the Directory).

 

Process Maps

Cross-sector Foster Carer Panel and Approval Process for Department Applications

Procedures

  • Membership of the Panel
  • Assessment Reports
  • The Panel meeting dates
  • Notifying the applicant of the Panel meeting date
  • The Panel process
  • The Panel meeting
  • The Panel decision
  • Notifying the applicant of the Panel decision
  • Notifying the applicant of the final decision
  • Recording
  • Membership of the Panel

    The Panel has a membership of seven including a Panel Chair and Deputy Chair.

    • Panel Chair. The Panel Chair is appointed by a Tender process. The Panel Chair is independent of the Department of Communities and CSOs, and has a social work or psychology qualification with relevant child protection experience. In the event that the independent Chair is not available, the Deputy Chair, a CSO representative who does not have the day to day management of those carrying out assessments, will chair the meeting to maintain independence.
    • Panel Deputy Chair. The Panel Deputy Chair is appointed by a Tender process. The Deputy Chair is someone who does not have the day to day management of those carrying out assessments and who will chair the meetings when the Panel Chair is not available.
    • One CSO representative. The CSO representative is appointed by a Tender process. More than one representative is appointed to the position and appointees will be rotated on a regular basis.  
    • One Cultural Support representative. The Cultural Support representative is appointed by a Tender process and has relevant knowledge of child protection and the foster care application and assessment processes.
    • Department of Communities' representatives. These representatives are senior staff members who are suitability qualified and have relevant experience in child protection.  More than one representative is appointed to the position and appointees will be rotated on a regular basis.  
    • One Foster Carer Association of Western Australia (WA) representative. The Foster Carer Association of WA provides a representative to the Panel.

     

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    Assessment Reports

    The assessor completes the following and sends them to the Panel Support Officer:

    • Form 705 Suitability to Foster Assessment Report
    • A Genogram, and
    • An Ongoing Learning Plan.

    All documents must be completed in full and quality assured by the assessor's line manager prior to forwarding to the Panel Support Officer.  The assessor is responsible for completing the 'Manage Carer' screens in Assist (e.g. Carer Profile and Assessments tabs initiating screening and subsidy details).

    Where the assessment is completed by a contract assessor, the Team Leader, Child and Carer Connection Hub, is responsible for completing Assist details.

    If the assessment is completed by a CSO assessor, the respective representative from the CSO must send a Notification of Foster Care Assessment Form to the coordinator of the Directory

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    The Panel meeting dates

    The Department of Communities and the CSO are notified of the next available Panel meeting date, time and venue.

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    Notifying the applicant of the Panel meeting date

    ​The assessor informs the applicant of the date of the Panel meeting and provides an overview of the Panel procedures and possible outcomes.

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    The Panel process

    Members of the Panel read the Assessment Report before the Panel meeting.  Panel members provide feedback regarding the applicant's abilities to meet the competencies within the Panel meeting. The Panel Chair will collate these to feedback to the Child Protection Family Support division or CSO.

    The assessor must be available to answer any questions from the Panel (video conference is available). 

    For further information on the process, refer to the flowchart Cross-sector Foster Carer Panel and Approval Process for Applications (in related resources).

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    The Panel meeting

    ​After considering the Assessment Report, the Panel will:

    • endorse the recommendation for approval where there is sufficient evidence that applicant(s) have met the competencies. For Department of Communities applicants, as part of the endorsement, the Panel may make comment in relation to care type (temporary, emergency and short break or permanent), capacity, age range, gender and suitability to provide care for a child with a disability
    • not endorse the assessor's recommendation for approval where there is insufficient evidence that the applicants meet the competencies and/or assessment that applicant(s) do not meet the competencies, or
    • endorse the assessor's recommendation for non-approval where there is insufficient evidence that the applicants meet the competencies and/or the Panel assesses that applicants do not meet the competencies.
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    The Panel decision

    ​Panel endorses applicant

    Department of Communities applicants

    The Panel's decision is forwarded by the Panel Support Officer to the Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub for the final decision to approve/not approve the applicant.

    The Panel Support Officer records the required details in Assist.

    The Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub verifies that all required checks and documents have been completed before deciding whether the applicant should be approved, as per the Panel endorsement.   

    CSO applicants

    The Panel's decision is forwarded by the Panel Support Officer to the relevant CSO's decision maker via email to make the final decision to approve/not approve the applicant. This should be done within 24 hours of the Panel meeting.

    A copy of the Panel report is forwarded to the CSO.  Once the CSO approves or does not approve, a copy of the Panel report is forwarded to the Coordinator of the Directory who records the required details in Assist. This should be done within five business days of the Panel meeting.

    Panel does not endorse applicant

    Department of Communities applicants

    The Panel's decision is forwarded by the Panel Support Officer to the Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub to make the final decision to approve/not approve the applicant.

    The Panel Support Officer records the required details in Assist.

    Although the Panel does not endorse the applicant, the decision-making ultimately rests with the Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub.

    The Department of Communities may resubmit the applicant's assessment to the Panel following additional evidence/ information gathered by the assessor from the applicant addressing the issues identified by the Panel that led them to their decision.   The determination to seek a resubmission is made in conjunction with the wishes of the applicant and assessor, by the Director Child and Carer Connection Hub.

    An email seeking approval for resubmission is sent by the Department of Communities’ representative in the Panel meeting to the Director of the Child and Carer Connection Hub.  The Director reviews the initial assessment report and the Panel report and determines whether the application may be resubmitted.  A reply email advising of the decision is to be filed in the Carer File on Assist.

    If the decision of the Director of the Child and Carer Connection Hub is that a resubmission may be made, the assessor has four weeks from the date of the decision to resubmit the application to lodge it with the Panel Support Officer. The report should stand alone as a new report including any additional information/details as required by the initial Panel report to be clearly identified i.e. either written in bold or in another font colour.

    Only one resubmission will be generally considered by the Director of the Child and Carer Connection Hub.

    Note: the Department of Communities will not place a child with a carer who has not been endorsed by the Panel.

    CSO applicants

    The Panel's decision is forwarded by the Panel Support Officer to the relevant CSO's decision maker via email to make the final decision to approve/not approve the applicant. This should be done within 24 hours of the Panel meeting.

    A copy of the Panel report is forwarded to the CSO. Once the CSO approves or does not approve, a copy of the Panel report is forwarded to the Coordinator of the Directory who records the required details in Assist. This should be done within five business days of the Panel meeting.

    The CSO decision-maker may resubmit the applicant's assessment to the Panel if the CSO believes the applicant has addressed the concerns of the Panel.

    Although the Panel does not endorse the applicant, the decision-making ultimately rests with the CSO's decision-maker. The CSO makes the final decision of whether to approve the applicant taking into consideration the Panel’s rationale for not endorsing the application. The CEO may still approve an applicant that has not been endorsed by the Panel.

    Note: If the CSO approves the applicant after the Panel has not endorsed the applicant, the Department of Communities will not place a child with that carer.

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    Notifying the applicant of the Panel decision

    ​The outcome of the Panel meeting should be communicated to the applicant by the assessor as soon as practicable.

    Note: Care arrangements of children can only occur after the Department of Communities or the CSO has made a final decision to approve the applicant.

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    Notifying the applicant of the final decision

    ​Approval

    Department of Communities applicants

    The Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub, will inform the applicant in writing once they have made the final decision to approve the applicant as a foster carer.  The applicant will receive Form 293 Certificate of Approval for Approved Department Foster Carers with Form 292 Foster Carer Approval Letter (in related resources).

    CSO applicants

    The CSO approving authority will communicate with the applicants regarding the outcome.

    Non-approval

    Department of Communities applicants

    The Director, Child and Carer Connection Hub, will inform the applicant in writing once they have made the final decision not to approve the applicant as a foster carer.  The applicant will receive a Form 720 Foster Carer Non-Approval Letter (in related resources).

    CSO applicants

    The CSO approving authority will communicate with the applicants regarding the outcome.

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    Recording

    ​The Panel Support Officer will make sure that the decision making process is completed and recorded in Assist in the 'Manage Carer' screens for Department of Communities' applicants. 

    The Coordinator of the Directory will record in Assist relevant details for CSO applicants.

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