Kinship care

Kinship engagement team, family finding, kinship a, kinship b, kinship assessment
1101
Follow this procedure when undertaking a kinship carer assessment.
Document ID number 1101, version 14, 5 February 2024.
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 Principles must be applied and rationales recorded. For additional information, see Responding to Aboriginal children – advice

Before placing a child with a kinship carer, Child Protection must complete a preliminary assessment (known as Part A) and mandatory safety screening including national police history checks and CRIS checks.

All kinship carers are legally required to hold a Working with Children Clearance (WWCC), formerly known as Working with Children Check, and it is a policy requirement all usual adult household members are also required to obtain a WWCC.

A kinship carer who has a disclosable category A offence or offences against children, will not be issued with a WWCC and cannot be endorsed as a kinship carer. In these instances the placement cannot proceed or continue. A kinship carer cannot have their role revised to be classified as a usual household member to circumvent the requirement to hold a WWCC. 

Kinship care placements are supervised and supported by Child Protection or through a community service organisation (CSO) or Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO). 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
  • an international police check (if the carer and other usual household member has lived overseas for six months or more)
  • kinship carers and usual adult household members must renew their WWCC every five years.

See kinship care assessment-advice and Support of kinship carers - advice  for further information.

This procedure must also be followed if a child is living in a kinship care arrangement not instigated by Child Protection and the case proceeds beyond intake phase to investigation (it is classified as a protective intervention report).

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.
  • If an appropriate kinship option is identified and the Part A kinship assessment has been completed and endorsed, and it is determined that the placement will exceed a duration of three months a ‘first supports’ referral to the appropriate agency to support the new placement should be submitted via CRIS.
  • If a child is in a kinship placement and there are concerns regarding the stability of that placement or there are identified support needs for that placement, a consultation with the kinship engagement team should be undertaken to consider a referral for ‘kinship support’. Once determined a referral is necessary, this should be submitted via CRIS. 
  • If an appropriate kinship care option is not identified, and the child is placed in an out of home placement, a consultation with the kinship engagement team should be undertaken to consider 'family finding' for early identification of kinship networks. Once determined a referral is necessary, this should be submitted via CRIS. 
  • Consider a family-led decision making (FLDM) meeting or Aboriginal family-led decision making (AFLDM) meeting if this will help to identify placement options.
  • The kinship engagement services should refer all Aboriginal children to Aboriginal Family Finding at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA).

Preliminary assessment tasks (Part A)

  • Prior to placement, complete the ‘Preliminary assessment (Part A)’ in CRIS when a kinship carer has been identified. Kinship carers must be assessed regardless of whether the placement is planned, emergency or a pre-existing arrangement.
  • 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.
  • Complete a CRIS responsible for harm search on all adults in the household.

Adverse criminal record check outcomes – kinship carers

  • Where the national police history check reveals disclosable offences, consideration should be given to whether these offences may prevent the kinship carer and/or usual household member from obtaining a WWCC or result in the issuing of an interim prohibition notice while the Department of Government Services undertakes further assessment – see Working with Children Clearances for kinship carers and usual adult household members - advice for additional information. 

A placement cannot proceed where a Category A offence or an offence against a child is disclosed against a kinship carer.

  • Approval is required from the director, Child Protection or area executive director (or another divisional executive officer) for the placement if the national police history check for the kinship carer reveals disclosable Category B or C offences.

Adverse criminal record check outcomes – usual adult household members

  • Approval is required from the director, Child Protection or area executive director (or another Divisional Executive Officer) if the national police history check reveals disclosable Category B or C offences against a usual adult household member.
  • Record the approval of the adverse criminal record check on CRIS and on the kinship assessment part A document.
  • 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 Statewide Principal Practitioner, Child Protection, Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s central office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) is consulted and endorses the placement. The Divisional Deputy Secretary must also endorse the placement.
  • Consult the Discretionary endorsement for usual adult household members unable to hold a WWCC policy for further information.

Working with children clearance requirements

  • Advise the kinship carer/s that a WWCC must be applied for or updated within 21 days from the date Child Protection endorses the placement. 
  • Provide the carer/s and usual adult household members with the information sheet and guide to apply for a WWCC or to update the details of an existing WWCC. 
  • Advise usual adult household members that a WWCC must be applied for or updated within 21 days from the date the child is placed in the care of the kinship carers in their household.

Kinship care allowance

  • 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.

Referral to First Supports

  • Advise (and discuss) with the carer that a referral will be made to First Supports if the placement is likely to last 12 weeks or longer.
  • 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. The referral can be submitted through CRIS following the Part A assessment being endorsed. See kinship care assessment for further information.

Additional tasks regarding WWCC

At day 15 of the placement:

  • Check with the kinship carer(s) and the usual adult household members that a WWCC has been applied for or updated, and seek evidence of this e.g., application number. If a WWCC has not been applied for attend the carer’s house and assist the carer and usual adult household members with the application. See Working with children clearance for kinship carers and usual adult household members.
  • If the carer and/or usual adult household members have not applied for or updated their WWCC immediate action is needed to support the carer and/or usual adult household member to apply for a WWCC. This may involve the practitioner attending the carer's home and applying online using your ultra-book or driving the carer to Australia Post to have their photo taken.
  • If the carer, or a usual adult household member, is refusing to apply for a WWCC 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 kinship carer/s, and all usual adult household members, have applied for or updated their WWCC.
  • Record on CRIS if the placement cannot be endorsed or can no longer continue, due to the kinship carer(s) or other usual adult household members 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 is expected to continue for more than six weeks but less than 12 weeks

  • Provide questions (via the information for kinship carers and usual adult household members document) to the carer before meeting them to complete the Part B assessment.
  • 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).
  • Support the carer and all other usual household members to complete an international police history check if any have lived overseas for six months or longer.
  • Analyse information gathered and make the final assessment of the appropriateness of the placement within six weeks of placement commencement.
  • Establish the care team, see Care team procedure.

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. In cases where a referral to First Supports is not accepted or the waitlist for allocation will exceed one month, then it is advisable for the case manager to commence the Part B assessment or consult the Kinship Engagement Team for assistance. 
  • 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.  

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 WWCC 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. These checks must be undertaken every three years. For a definition of who is a usual household member refer to Working with Children Clearances for kinship carers and usual adult household members.
  • Check the date on the kinship carers and usual adult household members WWCC card and remind them they will be required to update the card before it expires at five years.
  • If the case is contracted to a CSO or ACCO, Child Protection must undertake the police check and update CRIS.

Where the Children's 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 Children's 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 director, Child Protection must be briefed to determine whether legal intervention is required to seek removal of the child from the placement.
  • The Worker Screening Act 2020 specifies that a person cannot be engaged in ‘child-related work’ inclusive of kinship care if they do not hold a WWCC, therefore a child cannot legally be placed with a kinship carer who has a disclosable Category A offence or offences against children or is otherwise ineligible for a WWCC.

International police history checks

  • If a kinship carer or other usual household member has lived overseas for six months or longer, support them to obtain an international police history check.
  • The international police history check, is initiated as part of the comprehensive assessment following placement of the child (the Part B assessment).
  • If an international police history check is not available for the country of origin for the individual, record this in the Part B assessment document and obtain referee checks 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 procedure Undertaking an international police history check for further information and tasks to complete.

In all cases

  • Consult your supervisor to determine next steps including enacting the case plan, placement support and placement supervision. This may include consultation about a referral to the kinship engagement team for kinship finding or kinship support. 
  • 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.
  • Record the placement details on CRIS and the details of the kinship carers and all usual adult household members including dates of criminal history checks and WWCC details.

Complaints awareness

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 WWCC requirements for 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 offences 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 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 executive director on the next working day.

Area operations manager or director, child protection tasks or manager Central After Hours Services 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 be issued with a WWCC.
  • Seek endorsement from the director, Child Protection or area executive where there are disclosable offences and the placement is to continue.

Area executive director or director, Child Protection tasks

  • Endorse the kinship placement in cases where a disclosable offence exists. Placement cannot occur where a disclosable Category A offence or offences against children arise for a kinship carer or when a kinship carer is ineligible for a WWCC.
  • 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 Statewide Principal Practitioner, Child Protection, Office of Professional Practice.

Statewide Principal Practitioner, Child Protection, Office of Professional Practice 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 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 the Statewide Principal Practitioner, Child Protection, Office of Professional Practice.)

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.