Kinship care

Follow this procedure when undertaking a kinship carer assessment.

Document ID number 1101, version 4, 29 August 2017.

Introduction

When a child needs an out-of-home care placement, it is a legislative requirement that kinship care be investigated before other placement options are pursued.

Before placing a child with a kinship carer, child protection completes a preliminary assessment and mandatory safety screening: national police history checks and CRIS checks.

From 1 May 2017 primary kinship carers are required to hold a Working with Children Check under the Working with Children Act 2005. This is an additional check and is not required prior to the placement. Carers have 21 days from the date the child is placed in their care to apply for a Working with Children Check.

A person identified as a primary kinship carer, who has a disclosable category A offence or offences against children, will not a pass Working with Children Check and cannot be approved as a kinship carer.

Approval of a kinship care placement rests with a supervisor or a more senior officer.

At the initial assessment and at key decision-making points throughout the placement, kinship carers should be informed of the requirement to hold a Working with Children Check. They must also advise child protection of any police contact, charges or court outcomes that occur during the placement.

Kinship care placements are supervised and supported by child protection or through a community service organisation. A care team is established for each child in care.

Placements of Aboriginal children must comply with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.

When a child has been placed in a placement other than kinship care, the possibility of the child transitioning to a suitable kinship carer should be regularly revisited and options to overcome barriers proactively pursued.

As part of the ongoing review of a kinship care placement:

  • a national police history check must be undertaken at least every three years for carers and all members of the household aged 18 years and older
  • the primary kinship carer must renew their Working with Children Check every five years.

See kinship care assessment-advice for further information.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • If the child needs an out-of-home care placement, review the recorded genogram and file information and consult the child and family about appropriate kinship care options.
  • The wishes of the parents do not take precedence over what is in the best interests of the child.
  • Consider a family-led decision making (FLDM) meeting or Aboriginal family-led decision making (AFLDM) meeting if this will help to identify placement options.
  • Prior to placement, complete the ‘Preliminary assessment (Part A)’ form if a kinship carer has been identified. Kinship carers must be assessed regardless of whether the placement is planned or emergency. In an emergency placement, a preliminary assessment must be undertaken to determine that the placement is safe and suitable.
  • Sight photographic identification and confirm the identity of each adult in the household to support national police history checks. If this is not possible, identification must be sighted at the earliest opportunity once the placement has been made.
  • Inform the kinship carer that you will be undertaking a national police history check of all adult household members and a CRIS check of their family and other household members. Seek consent for those checks from the adults.
  • Ask the kinship carer whether they or any member of the household has had involvement with the police or have intervention orders against them.
  • If an adult household member refuses consent to a national police history check, placement cannot proceed unless they leave the home before and for the duration of the placement or until the police check requirements are completed.
  • Undertake a national police history check when a member of the household who was not previously the subject of a police check turns 18 years of age. This includes adults with a disability.
  • Seek consent from the parent/guardian to undertake a national police history check of young people under 18 years of age if any young person in the placement has been subject to police intervention. If this consent is refused, consult the team manager about whether the placement approval process will continue.
  • Undertake national police history checks on all family and given names known to be used (including aliases). See procedure Undertaking a national police history check for tasks that must be undertaken.
  • Seek supervisor approval for the placement.
  • If the national police history check reveals disclosable offences, the Director or Assistant Director Child Protection (or another divisional executive officer) must approve the placement. Follow divisional process (for example using a memorandum or email) to seek that approval.
  • A placement cannot proceed in any case where a Category A offence or an offence against a child is disclosed against an identified primary kinship carer.
  • In any case where a Category A offence is disclosed against a usual household member over 18 years the placement cannot proceed nor be allowed to continue unless the Director, Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) is consulted and endorses the placement. The divisional Deputy Secretary must also endorse the placement.
  • NOTE: Category A offences are very serious offences, including murder, rape, offences related to child pornography or sexual offences committed as an adult against a child.
  • Immediately complete the 'Commence payment form for caregiver reimbursement' in CRIS if the kinship care placement proceeds, and submit as required by the divisional process.
  • Consider referral to a kinship care support service within the first week.

If a pre-existing kinship placement exists prior to a child protection report

  • Check CRIS to ascertain any previous history of the carer or other household members, including residents living on the property in a caravan or other dwelling.

If a child is living in a kinship care placement not instigated by child protection and the case proceeds beyond intake phase

  • If the case progresses past intake, complete the ‘Preliminary assessment (Part A)’ form.
  • Sight photographic identification and confirm the identity of each adult in the household and seek their consent to support national police history checks and a CRIS check of their family.
  • Undertake national police history checks.
  • Advise the team manager if any person refuses consent to a national police history check or if police checks result in a disclosable matter. The placement will not be formally endorsed by child protection and care allowance will not be provided until the national police history check has been completed and approval provided.
  • Advise the primary carer(s) that a Working with Children Check must be applied for or updated within 21 days from the date child protection endorses the placement. Provide the carer with the information sheet and guide to apply for a Working with Children Check or to update their Working with Children Check.
  • At day 15 of the placement, check with the kinship carer(s) that a Working with Children Check has been applied for or updated, and seek evidence of this e.g. receipt from Australia Post. If a check has not been applied for attend the carers house and assist the carer with the application. See Working with Children Checks for kinship carers.
  • As above, at day 15, if the carer has not applied for, or updated their Working with Children Check, immediate action is needed to support the carer to apply for a Check. This may involve the practitioner attending the carers home and applying on line using your ultra book, or driving the carer to Australia Post to have their photo taken.
  • If at day 15, the carer is refusing to apply for a Working with Children Check advise the team manager. Immediate action must be taken, including a review of the placement. The placement cannot be endorsed by child protection without evidence the primary carer(s) has applied for or updated their Working with Children Check.
  • Record on CRIS if the placement cannot be endorsed or can no longer continue, due to the carer(s) unwillingness to apply for the necessary checks and assess the child’s safety and wellbeing.
  • Cease the care allowance should the placement not be endorsed by child protection or no longer continues.

If a kinship care placement continues for more than 21 days

  • Confirm the carer has applied for or updated their Working with Children Check and sight evidence e.g receipt from Australia Post.
  • Provide the ‘Comprehensive Kinship Assessment – carer form (Part B)’ to the carer to fill in those questions they can readily answer.
  • Meet with the carer to complete the form (Part B) and explore any issues. This involves more than one visit and includes key members of the carer’s household (children and adults).
  • Analyse information gathered and make the final assessment within six weeks of placement commencement.
  • Establish the care team.

If a kinship care placement continues for more than 12 months

  • Complete the ‘Kinship care 12-month placement review (Part C)’ form. This is normally undertaken by child protection or the contracted case manager. However, assessing a kinship care placement for conversion to permanent care involves working collaboratively with a CSO or adoption and permanent care team.
  • At the time of completing Part C, sight the carers Working with Children Check card to verify that it is still valid.

If a kinship care placement continues for more than three years

  • Undertake a new national police history check on the carer and on all other adult household members who reside in the house or regularly sleep there overnight. These checks must be undertaken every three years.
  • If the case is contracted to a CSO, child protection must undertake the police check and update CRIS.
  • Check the date on the primary kinship carers Working with Children Check card and remind them they will be required to update the card before it expires at five years.

Where a court orders a child to be placed in a kinship placement prior to results of national police history checks being known

  • Prior to making an order, advise the court, through a legal representative, that child protection has been unable to have regard to the criminal history of the person and the usual adult household members as required by the CYFA and so cannot confirm the person is a suitable person.
  • Where a national police history check results in a disclosable matter for the primary kinship carer or other usual adult household members, alert your supervisor. The child protection operations manager must be briefed and determine whether legal intervention is required to seek to remove the child from the placement.
  • A child cannot legally be placed with a kinship carer who has a disclosable Category A offence or offences against children.

In all cases

  • Consult your supervisor to determine next steps including case plan implementation, placement support and placement supervision.
  • Undertake a national police history check on any person aged 18 years or older who regularly stays overnight.
  • Undertake a national police history check on any household member who turns 18 years of age (if they had not already been subject to a check).
  • Complete CRIS records, including a scan of completed forms, a record of the full details of the national police history check results, assessment and placement decisions.
  • Place a hardcopy of the national police history check results in the court section of the paper file.
  • If a national police history check discloses an offence, seek approval from an Executive Officer if the child will not be removed from the placement. Caregiver reimbursement payments received by the carer will not be suspended at this point.
  • Advise the primary carer(s) that a Working with Children Check must be applied for or updated within 21 days from the commencement of the placement. Provide the carer with the information sheet and guide to apply for a Working with Children Check or guide to updating their Working with Children Check.
  • Sight evidence the primary carer(s) has applied for a Working with Children Check.

International police history checks

  • If a kinship carer has lived overseas for a cumulative period of 12 months or longer, consult with your supervisor about whether to contact the relevant overseas police agencies to obtain an international police history check.
  • If it is possible to undertake an international police history check, initiate this as part of the comprehensive assessment following placement of the child (the Part B assessment).
  • If an international police history check cannot be completed, record the reason as part of the Part B assessment document.
  • If an international police history check cannot be completed, obtain referee checks if possible from two or more individuals who personally knew the carer while they were living in the other country or countries.
  • Record the outcomes as part of the Part B assessment document.
  • See the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for more on international police history checks.

AHCPES practitioner tasks

  • Contact the divisional on call manager if an emergency kinship placement is required outside usual business hours.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.
  • Assist the case worker to determine next steps.
  • Use the Corporate Reporting Tool to monitor compliance with national police history check requirements for kinship placements and Working with Child Check requirements for primary kinship carers.

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse key decisions including placement approvals.
  • If any national police history check contains a Category A disclosable matter or offence against children, for the identified primary carer the placement cannot proceed. If a Category A disclosable matter arises for a usual adult household member consult your manager (or another manager at equivalent level) before seeking approval and decide whether the placement is in the best interests of the child.
  • Seek endorsement from the child protection operations manager in cases where:
    • disclosable offences are found
    • any person refuses to consent to a national police history check, or
    • parents/guardians do not give consent for a national police history check of children who have been subject to police intervention.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • Oversee the placement approval process where a criminal matter has been disclosed.
  • Decide whether legal intervention is required to remove the child from the placement in cases where the kinship placement was not instigated by child protection.
  • Decide whether legal intervention is required to remove the child from the placement in cases where a court ordered the placement prior to results of a national police history check and subsequent results reveal a disclosable matter. If a Category A offence or offences against children is returned for the primary carer the child cannot legally remain in the placement as the carer will not pass the Working with Children Check. If a Category A offence is returned on another usual adult member of the household and the offender is unwilling to vacate the home, recommend to the court that the placement is not suitable, unless the placement is endorsed by the divisional Deputy Secretary and the Director, Office of Professional Practice.
  • Decide whether a national police history check should be undertaken without the person’s consent on the basis that it is in the best interests of the child.
  • Seek endorsement from the Director or Assistant Director Child Protection where there are disclosable offences and the placement is to continue.

Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection tasks

  • Endorse the kinship placement in cases where a disclosable offence exists. Placement cannot be considered where a disclosable Category A offence or offences against children arise for an identified primary kinship carer.
  • Endorse emergency kinship placements when requested by AHCPES where necessary. If a Category A offence is identified against a usual adult household member, the placement cannot proceed unless endorsed by the divisional Deputy Secretary and the Director, Office of Professional Practice.

Director, Office of Professional Practice task

  • Consult with practitioners when a Category A offence exists for any potential carer and/or any other usual adult in the household. The placement can only proceed if you endorse it. (Endorsement of divisional Deputy Secretary is also required.)

Divisional Deputy Secretary task

  • Consult with practitioners when a Category A offence exists for any other usual adult in the household. The placement can only proceed if you endorse it. (Endorsement of Director, Office of Professional Practice is also required.)

Contracted case manager tasks

  • Undertake case management in accordance with case and care plans.
  • Complete kinship care review assessment (Part C) according to the endorsed assessment framework using the ‘Kinship care 12 month placement review (Part C)’ form.

 

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