Kinship care

Follow this procedure when undertaking a kinship carer assessment.

Document ID number 1101, version 9, 21 August 2019.

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.

For Aboriginal children, the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle must be applied and rationales recorded. See Responding to Aboriginal children – advice.

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.

Approved 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 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.

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.

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
  • approved kinship carers 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.
  • Consider a referral to the kinship engagement team to undertaken 'family finding' for planned placements.

The Kinship engagement services may refer Aboriginal children to Aboriginal Family Finding at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA).

  • Consider a family-led decision making (FLDM) meeting or Aboriginal family-led decision making (AFLDM) meeting if this will help to identify placement options.

Preliminary assessment tasks (Part A)

  • Prior to placement, complete the ‘Preliminary assessment (Part A)’ in CRIS if a kinship carer has been identified. Kinship carers must be assessed regardless of whether the placement is planned, emergency or pre-existing.
  • 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.
  • Sight photographic identification and confirm the identity of each adult in the household to support national police history checks. If this is not possible prior to undertaking a national police check, identification must be sighted at the earliest opportunity once the placement has been made.
  • 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 to 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 cognitive 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.
  • If the national police history check reveals disclosable offences, the area director, or 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 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.

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.

  • Seek supervisor approval for the placement.
  • 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.
  • Immediately complete the Form A ‘Carer vendor registration’ and Form B 'Commence care allowance' in CRIS if the kinship care placement proceeds and submit as required by the divisional process.
  • Provide the carer with the Form D ‘Authorisation for direct deposit of care allowance’ to submit to the Care Allowance Helpdesk.
  • If the placement is likely to last 12 weeks or longer, advise and discuss with the carer that a referral will be made to First Supports.
  • Make a referral to First Supports in CRIS within the first three weeks of the placement commencing where the placement is expected to last more than 12 weeks.

Additional tasks regarding 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 carer’s 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 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)’ in CRIS and follow the preliminary assessment tasks outlined above.

If a kinship care placement is expected to continue for more than six weeks but less than 12 weeks

  • Confirm the carer has applied for or updated their Working with Children Check and sight evidence, such as the receipt from Australia Post.
  • Provide a completed version of the ‘Information for kinship carers – department pro forma’ to the carer.
  • Meet with the carer to complete a comprehensive assessment (Part B) in CRIS 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 is expected to continue for more than 12 weeks

  • Within three weeks of the placement commencing make a referral to a First Supports provider in CRIS by completing the Part A assessment in CRIS and submitting to the First Supports agency.
  • Make the First Supports referral  to the community service organisation (CSO) or Aboriginal community-controlled organisation (ACCO) in the area where the kinship placement is located).
  • Within two weeks of the referral being accepted convene a First Supports referral meeting with the First Supports agency. The First Supports agency should complete the Part B assessment in CRISSP within six weeks of the placement commencing and will submit the completed Part B to the relevant team manager, Child Protection for endorsement in CRIS.
  • Make a decision to endorse the placement or not within two weeks of receiving the Part B assessment from the First Supports agency. If there are concerns about the placement continuing, notify the First Supports agency as soon as possible and discuss the decision as necessary.

Complaints awareness

If a kinship care placement continues for more than 12 months

  • Complete the ‘Kinship care annual Part C assessment (Part C) in CRIS. This is normally undertaken by child protection or the contracted case manager. If assessing a kinship care placement for conversion to permanent care this involves working collaboratively with a CSO or adoption and permanent care team noting this is a separate assessment.
  • 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 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 kinship carer or other usual adult household members, alert your supervisor. The area operations manager or assistant director, child protection 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. This may include consultation about a referral to the kinship engagement team for kinship finding or kinship support.
  • 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 have 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. A care allowance received by the carer will not be suspended at this point.
  • Advise the kinship 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 kinship 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 in CRIS.
  • See the Department of Home Affairs website for more on international police history checks.

AHCPES practitioner tasks

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.
  • Review and endorse the preliminary Part A assessment.
  • Endorse any decision to refer to First Supports.
  • Endorse any decision to refer to kinship finding or kinship support.
  • Review and endorse the comprehensive Part B assessment.
  • Review and endorse the annual review Part C assessment.
  • If any national police history check contains a Category A disclosable matter or offence against children, for the identified kinship 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 area operations manager or assistant director, child protection 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.
  • Where a placement has been approved by the manager or manager on-call Central After Hours Service, seek a review and endorsement of the placement from the relevant area director on the next working day.

Area operations manager or assistant director, child protection 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 kinship 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 area director, or director or assistant director, child protection where there are disclosable offences and the placement is to continue.

Area director or director 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.
  • 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 the 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 in CRIS.

 

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