Working with Children's Check for kinship carers - advice

This advice provides information regarding kinship carers and Working with Children Checks.

Document ID number 2137, version 2, 29 August 2017.

Introduction

See Working with Children Checks prohibition, suspension or interim negative notice - procedure for tasks that must be undertaken.

Kinship care includes care for a child or young person provided by relatives or another significant person from the family or child’s social network, who have been approved by the Victorian child protection program, to be a kinship carer for a specific child(ren).

From 1 May 2017, Kinship care is considered to be ‘child-related work’ under the Working with Children Act 2005 and all primary kinship carers must hold a Working with Children Check.

If child protection has approved more than one person in a household as a carer for a child(ren) they must each hold a Working with Children Check.

Mandatory kinship care assessments including Kinship Assessment Part A and national criminal history checks on the kinship carer(s) and all other usual household members are still required to be undertaken prior to a placement being made, and must be undertaken every three years.

The Working with Children Check is an additional safety check for children in out-of-home care. The Check assists in protecting children from harm by monitoring a person’s suitability to work with, or care for children. It screens a person’s criminal record to ensure those charged with, or convicted of certain serious crimes, are unable to work with children. It is renewed every five years.

Timing

A Working with Children Check is not required prior to the placement being made. Child protection continues to make the initial assessment of a person’s suitability to be a kinship carer.

For placements made from 1 May 2017 carers have 21 days from the date the child is placed in their care to apply for a Working with Children Check.

This requirement does not apply to other usual household members or to kinship care arrangements where child protection are not involved.

Cost

In Victoria, there is no cost for a kinship carer to apply for a Working with Children Check or to have their photo taken at an Australia Post outlet, as they are deemed to be a ‘volunteer’.

There will be a cost for interstate kinship carers to have their photo taken at Australia Post. This cost can be reimbursed by child protection upon presentation by the carer of a receipt from Australia Post.

How to apply

A Check can be applied for via the Working with Children Check website under ‘applications’. The Working with Children Check – Guide for New Applicants provides information on how to apply.

If a kinship carer holds a Working with Children Check for other employment they can update their status as a kinship carer under ‘update my details’, they do not need to apply for a new Check . Further information on this is contained in the Working with Children Check - Guide for Existing Cardholders.

All carers must populate the full Department of Health and Human Services address and phone number in the organisational field as seen in the guide, and select ‘80 – Kinship carer – caring for a child placed by Child Protection under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005’ in the drop down box in the Occupational field and select ‘Volunteer’ next to occupational type. An application form is required to be completed for each carer.

After the online application is complete the carer will be emailed a barcode. Each carer will need to take the barcode to Australia Post, provide proof of identity and have their photo taken. Australia Post will give each carer a receipt. This completes the application process.

The Working with Children Check card will be sent to the carer via mail in 4-8 weeks.

Kinship carers may require assistance to apply for the Check online or getting to an Australia Post outlet to have their photo taken. If carers do not have a computer practitioners can assist by using their Ultrabook or a paper version of the application can be obtained from the Working with Children Check Unit on 1300 652 879.

Interstate carers

Approved interstate kinship carers of children who are subject to a Victorian Children’s Court order, are also required to apply for a Victorian Working with Children Check. They apply online via the Working with Children Check website and select the ‘apply from interstate’ button.

Failure to apply

A failure to apply for a Working with Children Check or for a carer to update their status as a kinship carer, is a breach of the Working with Children Act 2005. A child would need to be removed from the placement if the kinship carer has not applied for a Check.

Prohibition, suspension or interim negative notices

The Department of Justice and Regulation may issue a prohibition, suspension or interim negative notice, when the preliminary assessment of a person’s criminal record or professional conduct reports indicates, further assessment is required, or the person will not pass the Working with Children Check or when a carer is charged with a new offence or professional misconduct.

If a carer is issued with a prohibition, suspension or  interim negative notice, child protection must take immediate action to ensure the child(rens) safety – see Working with Children Checks prohibition, suspension or interim negative notice - procedure for tasks that must be undertaken. A case plan review must be undertaken immediately and either the child(ren) or the carer must be removed from the placement within 24 hours, until the Department of Justice and Regulation makes a decision on the carers Working with Children Check.

Kinship carers are not permitted to continue caring for children if they have been issued a prohibition, suspension or interim negative notice.

Ceasing care allowance payments

If a decision is made to remove the child(ren) from placement, the child protection practitioner must complete Form D- Cease Form- Kinship Care/ Permanent Care. Ceasing of care allowance payments is to be endorsed by a team manager. Forms are to be submitted via email to DHSCaregivers@dhs.vic.gov.au or fax to 1300 788 062.

The cease form is to be completed within three days of the placement ending and processed through Divisional arrangements for action. Completing the cease form within three days of the placement ending will ensure that an overpayment does not occur, as this could have an adverse financial impact on the kinship carer.

Considerations for good practice

If a kinship carer(s) does not have a computer or access to a printer, child protection practitioners may need to assist the carer(s) apply for the Check using their ultra book, printing off the barcode and providing it to the carer(s) to take to Australian Post.

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