Placing a child in out-of-home care
Follow this procedure when placing a child in out-of-home care.
Document ID number 1107, version 8, 30 June 2022.
See advice - Preparing a child for placement for information on supporting a child being placed in out-of-home care.
Out-of-home care includes placement with:
- an approved kinship carer
- an accredited foster carer through a community service organisation
- a residential care provider.
In this procedure, out-of-home care is referred to as ‘care’.
Placement in care is part of the case plan, endorsed by a case planner.
Case practitioner tasks
- Assess whether placement in care is appropriate and necessary based on the child’s safety and developmental needs. Consider:
- other elements of the child's case plan
- any court orders, including family court orders
- the family genogram
- a family-led decision making meeting (FLDM) or Aboriginal family-led decision making meeting (AFLDM) to assist in the identification of carers and your assessment
- the child and family’s views regarding possible placement options
- Aboriginal placement principle and consultation with ACSASS if the child is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. if this is not yet known, ask the child, each parent and other relatives as appropriate and record the information in the relevant case note, verification and in Aboriginal cultural information section in CRIS. For direction on how to ask, refer to Identifying Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children - for child protection practitioners (pdf, 68.5 KB)
- Complete a risk assessment or review risk assessment and consult your supervisor about the need for the child to be placed in care.
- Follow up in accordance with the outcome of supervisor consultation.
- Complete an application to the Children’s Court or an after-hours application when required to support the placement of the child in care.
- Determine whether a suitable kinship carer is available and complete assessment procedures, including criminal history, carer and CRIS check and note Working with Children Check requirements. A child cannot be placed in the care of a person who has a disclosable Category A offence or offences against children. See Kinship care.
- If a national police history check in respect of a proposed carer or person over the age of 18 years (including the carer’s children) living in the carer’s home discloses an offence or pending charge, seek required approval. See National police history checks policy. The placement should not be approved if the child may be at risk.
A placement cannot proceed in any case where a Category A offence or offences against children is disclosed against an identified primary carer. Category A offences are very serious offences including murder, rape, child pornography related offences or sexual offences committed as an adult against a child.
- Where a suitable kinship care placement is not available, contact the placement coordination unit (PCU) and initiate the placement referral process:
- Complete the placement referral form electronically and forward it to the PCU.
- Consider a referral to the department’s kinship engagement workers to commence family finding. Referrals are made by completing a referral for service through CRIS under the referral tab, referral for service and selecting Kinshop Supports or Kinship Finding.
- Ensure the carers are aware of whether the parents will be informed of the whereabouts of the child, or whether the placement is court ordered to be undisclosed, or where this decision rests with child protection, is decided by the case planner to be undisclosed in the best interests of the child.
- Provide the child’s parents with information about the whereabouts of the placement (unless a court order prohibits disclosure or under a care by Secretary order or long-term care order, a decision has been made by the case planner to withhold the information in the best interests of the child), initial contact arrangements, any contact restrictions and the rationale and information about what will happen next.
- Talk to the child and parents about:
- where the child will be placed or the rationale for not being able to disclose the placement location to a parent, where relevant
- the rights of the parents and the child
- how the child will be cared for and kept safe
- the parents’ wishes for their child’s daily care, religion, education and health
- the aspects of the child’s care and routine that are important to the child and will continue, such as schooling and healthcare
- the process to keep the parents informed of their child’s progress in care
- the complaint and internal review of decisions processes (provide the child or young person with a fridge magnet that promotes the department’s complaints line and a copy of the factsheet that can be found at https://www.dffh.vic.gov.au/making-complaint-children-and-young-people-out-home-care)
- what will happen next, including the legal process.
- Complete the Essential Information Record (EIR), using information gathered from parents. If the EIR cannot be completed at this stage, it must be completed within 14 days of the placement commencing.
- Inform the child and prepare them for placement in accordance with their age, capability and needs.
- Collect or obtain necessary items (possessions, clothing, medication, Medicare number). Provide the child with a Buddy Bag (backpack), see Tools and Checklist for information on how to register and order bags.
- Take the child to the placement and support their introduction to the carers.
- Where the placement is with a kinship carer, provide the carer with details of the division’s dedicated kinship care email address and telephone number. These can be found at https://services.dffh.vic.gov.au/kinship-care.
- Give the carers a copy of the EIR when taking the child to placement and provide the carers with any information necessary to care for the child.
- Consult your supervisor to determine the next steps including support and supervision of the child in placement and completing the Looking After Children in Victoria (LAC) requirements.
- Liaise with the care provider and ensure a care team is established as soon as practicable.
- Within two weeks of the placement commencing, support CSO or ACCO staff and the care team will meet to develop the LAC care and placement planning process:
- Consider all seven LAC dimensions: health, education, identity, family and social relationships, emotional and behavioural development and self-care skills, and the manner in which the child's needs will be addressed.
- Complete the care and placement plan within two weeks.
- Review the plan every six months.
- Inform early childhood education and care services, where applicable, about the child’s history and care arrangements.
- For school children, inform the school principal in writing about the child’s history and care arrangements.
- The school is responsible for developing the individual education plan.
- Where appropriate and in the best interests of the child, inform other service agencies that the child is in care. This includes Youth Justice or other department workers, treatment services involved with the child and police if involved.
- Inform all parties of confidentiality requirements.
- Participate in the care team and share information. Information may be shared if it is in the best interests of the child and related to the child’s safety, development and wellbeing.
- Amend the case plan to reflect significant changes to the child’s circumstances and any changes to the court order. Arrange for the team manager to endorse the changes.
- Ensure the decisions from the most recent endorsed risk assessment and case plan are consistent.
- Develop the cultural plan if appropriate.
- If the child is Aboriginal, address their cultural needs in the case plan and note how other decisions in the plan reflect and are consistent with those needs; and arrange for a cultural plan to be developed and provided to the child.
- Update the actions table.
- Update the essential information categories as required.
For a child placed in a non-kinship placement, or where a kinship care placement is time limited, continue to investigate kinship care options, including through family-led decision making. Consider a referral to the department’s kinship engagement workers to undertake kinship finding through CRIS via the referral tab, referral for service and selecting Kinship Finding.
- Complete CRIS requirements including mandatory screens and records of activity, decisions and rationales. This includes accurately recording if the placement address is withheld, or phone number is silent.
- Provide ongoing supervision and support.
- Assist the case worker to determine next steps.
- Endorse significant decisions.
Team manager tasks
- Approve court applications.
- Approve referral to PCU.
- Approve placement details to be withheld if this is in the best interests of a child subject to a care by Secretary order or long-term care order.
- If the court has ordered the placement is undisclosed, confirm the worker has accurately recorded this on CRIS.
- Endorse the risk assessment and any changes to the case plan.
- Preparing a child for placement - advice
- Individual education plans
- Looking After Children
- Looking After Children (LAC) processes - flowchart
- Information sharing
- Emergency care - Buddy Bags for children
- Education partnering agreement- protocol
- Charter for children in out-of-home care
- Identifying Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children - for child protection practitioners (pdf, 68.5 KB)
- Working with Children's Check for kinship carers - advice