Skip to Content

Introduction

These Rules and Practice Guidance are part of the Permanency Case Management Policy (PCMP) and are to be read in conjunction with other parts of the PCMP including the PCMP Policy Statement  and PCMP Resources .

The PCMP is intended to support collaborative assessment and case planning between FACS and funded service providers (FSPs). It sits ‘alongside’ and is not intended to duplicate or supersede:

  • FACS (internal) Casework Practice Mandates and Practice Advice or
  • the internal policies and procedures of funded service providers.

Assessing safety

Triage Assessment

FACS triages all Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) reports made to the Child Protection Helpline to prioritise and make decisions about which families are seen.

Key steps

  • For each report, FACS considers the reported concerns, Helpline’s assessment and the availability of local resources and operational capacity of FACS to respond.
  • Those children[1], their parents and family/kin with the highest priority are allocated to a FACS caseworker for a Safety and Risk Assessment (SARA).
  • If a child is not allocated for a Safety and Risk Assessment, FACS may refer the to other services or provide help (sections 20-22 or 113).

Collaborating in Triage Assessment

In conducting Triage Assessment, FACS and a funded service provider have important complementary roles.

FACS has statutory responsibility for responding to child protection reports (section 30). FACS conducts Triage Assessment and where appropriate:

  • FACS informs a funded service provider with case management, of a new report
  • FACS consults with a funded service provider with current or prior case management, or any other service provider involved with the child and their family
  • FACS invites a funded service provider to participate in Triage Assessment (led by FACS), when case management transfer is foreseeable.

If a funded service provider has case management, they continue providing services to the child, their parents, family/kin and carer[2] (where applicable) while FACS Triage Assessment is ongoing:

  • A funded service provider may participate in and assist FACS in Triage Assessment, for example:
    • by attending a FACS weekly allocation meeting (WAM) or
    • by participating in an Interagency Case Discussion (ICD) with FACS.
  • Participating in FACS Triage Assessment is not mandatory and occurs:
    • by invitation from FACS or request by the funded service provider and
    • if FACS and a funded service provider agree it will be beneficial to a child and their family/kin or if the child or their family/kin express interest.
  • A funded service provider shares all information relevant to FACS Triage Assessment and responds to FACS requests for information exchange.

[1] Throughout this document ‘child and/or young person’ is shortened to ‘child’; ‘children and/or young people’ is shortened to ‘children’.

[2] Throughout this document ‘carer’ refers to an authorised carer of a child in statutory OOHC and carers and youth workers providing care to a child in residential settings, including Intensive Therapeutic Care.

Safety and Risk Assessment

What is SARA?

SARA involves a set of Structured Decision Making tools that are used alongside the professional judgement of FACS casework practitioners.

  • An initial safety assessment helps FACS casework practitioners to assess a child’s immediate safety in the home where they live, with safety decisions of ‘safe’, ‘safe with plan’ or ‘unsafe’.

    When a child is assessed as unsafe in their home, a FACS casework practitioner moves the child to live with another person (in a place other than their usual home). This may be:

    • by agreement as part of a ‘ Temporary Care Arrangement (section 151) or
    • by removal or assumption – when FACS removes a child from their home under section [3] 43 or 233, or assumes a child from another place under section 44 of the Care Act.

    The FACS casework practitioner places the child with an authorised carer in an out of home care (OOHC) placement.

    FACS may carry out a review of the initial safety assessment, if new (ROSH or non-ROSH) information is received that would change the initial safety decision.

    FACS will complete a closing safety assessment if a safety plan is put in place, or when closing FACS involvement with the child and their family.

  • A risk assessment helps FACS to assess risk that a child will experience abuse or neglect in future in the home where they live, with risk outcomes of ‘low’, ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’. When a child is assessed as at high or very high risk, they are considered to be in need of care and protection.

Risk re-assessment helps FACS to re-assess the risk to a child following the parents and family/kin participation in case planning and work towards the child’s case plan goal. FACS ceases risk re-assessment when the re-assessed risk has an outcome of ‘low’ or ‘medium’ and where there are no unresolved dangers.

[3] Throughout this document, all references to a section or sections of statute refer to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 unless otherwise stated.

Key steps

  • FACS visits a child, their parents and family/kin to carry out a SARA.
  • A safety assessment is recorded in ChildStory within two days[4] of the visit.
  • A risk assessment is completed within 30 days after the safety assessment.
  • A risk re-assessment occurs every 90 days (or sooner if there is new information that would affect assessment of risk) when the risk is assessed as high or very high.

[4] Unless otherwise stated in this document, all references to a ‘day’ is a reference to a calendar day (not a business day).

Collaborating in Safety And Risk Assessment

In carrying out SARA, FACS and a funded service provider have important complementary roles.

FACS has statutory responsibility for responding to child protection reports (section 30 of the Care Act). FACS carries out SARA and where appropriate:

  • FACS informs a funded service provider with case management of a new report.
  • FACS consults with a funded service provider with current or prior case management, or any other relevant involvement with the child and their family.
  • FACS liaises with a funded service provider with case management, when seeking direct contact with a child, their parents and family/kin in order to carry out SARA. FACS informs the funded service provider when making contact is planned, or if that is not possible, immediately after it has occurred.
  • Within 10 business days after the conclusion of the safety and risk assessment, FACS provides relevant information to the funded service provider about the outcome of the assessment. See information exchange.

If a funded service provider has case management, the provider continues providing services to the child, their parents, family/kin and carer (where applicable) while SARA is ongoing, unless FACS and the funded service provider agree that these services are to cease:

  • A funded service provider may participate in and assist FACS to carry out SARA, for example:
    • by accompanying FACS caseworkers to a home visit or
    • by assisting FACS in talking with parents about the ROSH report
    • by supporting family/kin to increase safety and reduce risk.
  • Participating in SARA is not mandatory and occurs:
    • by invitation from FACS or request by the funded service provider and
    • when FACS and a funded service provider agree it will be beneficial to a child or their family/kin and
    • the child or their family/kin agree to the service provider’s participation.
  • Funded service providers do not participate in the exercise of statutory powers of assumption or removal under section 43 of the Care Act.
  • A funded service provider shares all information relevant to SARA and responds to FACS requests for information exchange.

Temporary Care Arrangements

What is a Temporary Care Arrangement?

A Temporary Care Arrangement (TCA) is a ‘placement intervention’ that may arise from FACS carrying out SARA FACS in which:

  • dangers are identified that cannot be addressed by a safety plan
  • the child is assessed as unsafe and in need of care and protection
  • the parent consents voluntarily or is assessed as ‘incapable of consenting’ and
  • there is a permanency plan involving restoration of the child to their parents
  • the child is placed in the care responsibility of the Secretary of FACS and allows FACS to make care decisions (section 151).

FACS places the child with an authorised carer (section 151(2)) in an OOHC placement. The carer make decisions regarding the day to day care of the child, including decisions in respect of consent to medical/dental treatment, managing behaviour, permission to participate in activities and decisions about education and training (section 157).

Restoration from a TCA is different from restoration from statutory OOHC because there are no court proceedings, no court order and parental responsibility (PR) remains with the parent.

The period of any TCA is up to three months in a 12 month period (section 152). Subject to assessment, these arrangements may be extended for a further period of up to three months (in same 12 month period) where parents are capable of consenting. The maximum period for a TCA or multiple arrangements is 6 months in any 12 month period (section 152(4)(a)).

TCAs require a case plan review (section 155), when the period of the TCA exceeds three months.

Key steps

  • FACS visits a child, their parents and family/kin to carry out a SARA.
  • During SARA, the child is assessed as unsafe and in need of care and protection, and the child requires a placement intervention.
  • FACS and the parents sign a Temporary Care Arrangement (TCA) Agreement form agreeing to Secretary having care responsibility for the child and the placement of the child with an authorised carer.
  • FACS prepares a case plan within 90 days of a child entering a TCA. FACS sets the goal as restoration. See PCMP Resources – List: Case planning timeframes.
  • The TCA ends when:
    • the parent requests FACS return their child to their care or
    • the child is restored by FACS or
    • FACS files a Children’s Court care application seeking other care arrangements.

Collaborating in arranging Temporary Care Arrangements

In TCAs, FACS and funded service providers have important complementary roles:

  • FACS determines what type of OOHC placement is to be provided in collaboration with the parents and family/kin, in keeping with Permanent Placement Principles (section 10A).
  • A TCA placement is most often with a FACS authorised carer. However:
    • If it is determined a placement is to be provided by a carer authorised by a funded service provider, FACS Child and Family District Unit (CFDU) makes a placement broadcast.
    • It may be agreed that the funded service provider will assess a relative/kin or other suitable person and authorise them as a carer.
  • If the child is placed with a carer authorised by a funded service provider, FACS retains case management while the service provider provides a placement only.
  • A funded service provider provides a TCA placement, noting that:
    • TCA placements are in addition to funded service provider contracted volume and
    • the funding approach is based on pro-rata application of Permanency Support Program (PSP) package costs and invoiced on a fee-for-service basis.

See PCMP Resources – Funding: Temporary Care Arrangement (TCAs).

  • If the period of the TCA is over three months, the funded service provider providing the placement convenes a case plan review meeting. This includes all administrative tasks such as updating the case plan or preparing a new case plan and circulating the meeting minutes and case plan within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).
  • FACS ensures attendance at the case review meeting by a casework practitioner with decision making delegation[5].

[5] Unless otherwise stated, references to a FACS ‘casework practitioner with decision making delegation’ is at Manager Casework level (category 5) and above. FACS caseworkers do not have decision making delegation.

Alternative Assessment (children in OOHC)

What is Alternative Assessment?

An Alternate Assessment is sometimes referred to as a ‘SARA exception’ or ‘SAS2’. It is different to carrying out SARA.

FACS may conduct an Alternate Assessment if a new report is received about a child in (statutory) out of home care (OOHC) case management of a funded service provider, which raises:

  • ROSH or non-ROSH concerns in relation to the child or any other child in the household (but not in relation to the conduct of an authorised carer) and/or
  • reportable allegations about the conduct of an authorised carer or another employee of the service provider.

Key steps

  • FACS visits a child, their parents and family/kin to carry out Alternative Assessment.
  • The Alternative Assessment is recorded in ChildStory within:
    • 28 days, if harm or risk is not substantiated
    • 90 days, if harm or risk is substantiated.
  • A Judgement and Outcomes report is completed by FACS that:
    • determines whether harm or ROSH is substantiated
    • identifies (if known) any person determined to have caused harm to the child and
    • records whether the child is assessed as being in need of care and protection.

Collaborating in Alternative Assessment

In conducting Alternative Assessment, FACS and a funded service provider have important complementary roles.

FACS has statutory responsibility for responding to child protection reports (section 30). In doing so:

  • FACS conducts Alternative Assessment.
  • FACS informs a funded service provider with case management, of a new report.
  • FACS consults with a funded service provider with current or prior case management, or any other relevant involvement with the child and their family.
  • FACS liaises with a funded service provider with case management, when seeking direct contact with a child, their parents and family/kin in order to conduct Alternative Assessment. FACS informs the funded service provider when making contact is planned, or if that is not possible, immediately after it has occurred.
  • Within 10 business days after the conclusion of the Alternative Assessment, FACS provides relevant information to a funded service provider about the outcome of the assessment. See information exchange.

A funded service provider with case management continues providing services to the child, their parents, family/kin and carer while FACS Alternate Assessment is ongoing, unless FACS and the funded service provider agree that these services are to cease:

  • A funded service provider may participate in and assist FACS in Alternative Assessment, for example:
    • by participating in a Pre-Assessment Consultation (PAC) or
    • acting as a support person for the child or carer during an interview by FACS.
  • Participating in Alternative Assessment is not mandatory and occurs:
    • by invitation from FACS or request by the funded service provider and
    • if FACS and a funded service provider agree it will be beneficial to a child and their family/kin or if the child or their carer express interest.
  • A funded service provider shares all information relevant to FACS Alternative Assessment and responds to FACS requests for information exchange.

Collaborating in assessing Reportable Conduct

When the new ROSH report contains allegations of reportable or criminal conduct by an authorised carer or other employee of the funded service provider, FACS and a funded service provider have additional complementary roles.

  • Whilst FACS is responsible for conducting an Alternative Assessment, a funded service provider is responsible for assessing reportable or alleged criminal conduct of their employees, including the conduct of authorised carers.
  • FACS and the funded service provider each inform the other when an assessment is to commence.
  • FACS and the funded service provider conduct joint pre-assessment and post assessment consultation (where appropriate). See PCMP Resources – Checklist: PAC and AC Requirements.
  • FACS and the funded service provider coordinate joint interviews of the child and other children, and the carer (where appropriate).
  • FACS and the funded service provider exchange information with the other throughout the assessment that relates to:
    • the safety of, risk of harm, or actual harm to the child and other children
    • the child and other children’s ongoing care and
    • the assessment and outcome of the assessment.
  • Within 10 business days after the conclusion of each assessment, FACS and the funded service provider provide each other with:
    • a copy of their respective assessments or
    • only relevant information about the assessment (not a copy) if a decision is made (Chapter 16A) to withhold the full assessment, for example, if legal advice is received that providing the full assessment would compromise the safety, welfare and well-being of a child. See Information Exchange.

Case Planning for Permanency and Wellbeing

Permanency Case Planning

What is permanency case planning?

Permanency case planning aims to put in place safe and permanent care arrangements that help a child grow up to be a healthy, caring and responsible adult with positive values and identity, social competencies and support networks.

Permanency case planning is a process used by FACS and funded service providers to develop a case plan that sets out:

  • the worries FACS, the parents, family/kin and significant people hold for the child
  • actions required by parents, family/kin and carers to bring about change and
  • how they will be supported to achieve the child’s case plan goal.

Permanency case planning always involves participation by a child, their parents, family/kin and carers.

This upholds the child’s rights, (sections 9-10) and the rights of Aboriginal children and their families/kin (section 12).

FACS and the funded service provider have important complementary roles in permanency case planning:

  • FACS sets the child’s case plan goal as agency:
    • that commissions case management provided by a funded service provider (whether or not the child is in OOHC)
    • with statutory responsibility for responding to ROSH and
    • exercising PR for children in statutory OOHC.

This includes any decision to initiate adoption or guardianship action. See Functions of Parent Responsibility exercised by FACS.

  • A funded service provider participates in permanency case planning when it has case management, or when case management transfer is to occur (to the funded service provider) in future.

See Permanency Case Management Policy Resources – Checklist: Permanency Case Planning.

Key Steps

  • Permanency case planning begins when FACS completes SARA, when a child is assessed as in need of care and protection.
  • A case plan is developed:
    • within 15 days of a risk assessment with risk outcome of ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk, or within 45 days of the initial safety assessment and/or
    • within 30 days of the entering care of the Secretary of FACS or statutory OOHC.

    A ‘case plan’ is either a Family Action Plan (preservation)or OOHC Case Plan (restoration, guardianship, adoption or long term care). See Preparing the case plan.

  • The case plan identifies a case plan goal (or change to an existing case plan goal) along thecontinuum of care, to provide safety and meet the child’s permanency needs. It describes objectives and tasks to help parents, family/kin and carers (if applicable) to achieve their child’s case plan goal.
  • FACS commissions (provides or purchases) case management to achieve the child’s case plan goal.
  • FACS transfers case managementto:
  • Note: in some circumstances, case management may have transferred to a funded service provider at an earlier stage, for example if a child has already been placed in OOHC with a funded service provider.

    See PCMP Resources – List: Case Planning Timeframes.

  • The funded service provider implements the case plan and provides professional support and practical assistance to help parents, family/kin and carers achieve the child’s case plan goal.
  • The funded service provider conducts regular formal review of a child’s case plan without a requirement that FACS participate directly, for example convening an annual case conference and updating the child’s case plan (OOHC Standard 14: Case Planning and Review.
  • FACS and the funded service provider closely monitor progress toward achieving the child’s case plan goal.
  • Involvement of FACS and/or the funded service provider ceases upon achievement of the case plan goal.

Collaborating in case planning

The nominated FACS Unit

When a child is in the case management of a funded service provider, FACS and funded service providers have ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ case responsibility on ChildStory:

  • ‘primary’ case responsibility type refers to the funded service provider with case management and
  • ‘secondary’ case responsibility type refers to the nominated FACS unit with decision making responsibility.

All FACS districts are responsible for nominating which business unit will have secondary case responsibility – hereafter ‘the nominated FACS unit’. In many FACS districts the nominated FACS unit is the local CFDU.

For Intensive Therapeutic Care, the nominated FACS unit is always the Central Assessment Unit (CAU).

Links to ChildStory reference Guides are available through ChildStory Communities.

Preparing the case plan

FACS and funded service providers have important complementary roles in convening the case conference and writing the case plan:

  • FACS or a funded service provider (whichever has case management) convenes a case conference within statutory timeframes. This includes all administrative tasks such as updating the case plan or preparing a new case plan and circulating the meeting minutes and case plan within five business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed). See PCMP Resources – List: Case planning timeframes.
  • This includes preparing the draft case plan and circulating meeting minutes and case plan within five business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).
  • FACS and the funded service provider each ensure attendance at the case conference by a casework practitioner with decision making delegation.

Changing the case plan goal

Proposing a change to a case plan goal

If the funded service provider observes there has been a significant change in relevant circumstance for the child, their parents and family/kin the provider may propose to change the child’s case plan goal. If so, the funded service provider:

  • may seek guidance from FACS Permanency Coordinator and
  • (where appropriate) makes a proposal to FACS to change the case plan goal.

When a change to a child’s case plan goal is proposed (‘proposal to change’):

  • the service provider notifies FACS of the proposal to change and submits evidence of pre-assessment and prior casework to support the proposal
  • FACS and the service provider jointly consider the proposal
  • the decision to change the case plan goal is made by FACS as the:
    • agency that commissions case management provided by a funded service provider (whether or not the child is in OOHC) and
    • agency with statutory responsibility for responding to ROSH and
    • agency exercising PR for children in statutory OOHC.

The Service Provider notifies FACS of the proposal to change in writing and provides all supporting documentation, including a rationale and evidence that pre-assessment and prior casework has been undertaken.

A case meeting with all parties (including the child, parents, family members, carers, service provider casework team and relevant FACS casework team) occurs to consider the service provider’s proposal to change and determine whether such a change is in the best interests of the child.

Pre-assessment and Prior Casework

The proposal to change is made in consultation with the child, their parents and family/kin affected by the proposal. Cultural consultation occurs in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children or children with a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background.

Prior to proposing a change, service providers have face-to-face preliminary discussions with the child (where age appropriate to do so) and people who love and care for the child, such as parents, family/kin, carers. Professionals and community members working with the child may be included in discussions about changing a case plan goal.

Service providers consider relevant factors in considering a possible change, including:

  • a child’s views of where they want to live (OOHC Standard 2: Child’s participation)
  • the strength of attachment between a child and their carer, length of placement and extent to which the child has an established and stable relationship with their carers.

Service providers review a range of records about the child’s life, including case plan reviews, home visit records, records of family and sibling contact time (for children in OOHC) and independent reports and assessments.

Decision to change a case plan goal

The decision to change a case plan goal is made by a FACS casework practitioner with decision making delegation. Depending on district structures this will generally be the CFDU.

A rationale for FACS decision is clearly documented and accessible on ChildStory.

Legal proceedings

If FACS makes a decision to change a child’s case plan goal, legal proceedings may be necessary to rescind the current order and replace it with a more suitable order. Therefore, in conduct of pre-assessment and prior casework, service providers consider:

  • whether there has been a significant change in relevant circumstances
  • what information or evidence might be required by the court to rescind or change the court order (section 90)

Funded service providers should seek their own independent legal advice.

Case management transfer

FACS districts and funded service providers initiate and respond to Case Management Transfer (CMT) as providers of preservation casework (non-OOHC) and as accredited child-safe providers of OOHC.

Casework practitioners:

  • include the child (where appropriate), their parents and family, in discussion about changes to case management
  • work collaboratively to help achieve a child’s case plan goal.

What is case management transfer?

CMT involves the transfer of responsibility for case management from a ‘transferring provider’ (FACS or a funded service provider) to a ‘receiving provider’ (most often a funded service provider):

  • in relation to children that have a case plan goal of preservation, restoration, guardianship, adoption or long term care
  • on a specific case management transfer date – CMT does not occur across a range of dates or over a period of time.

In relation to Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC), the Central Access Unit (CAU) is responsible for determining where case management sits. The funded service provider may have case management or in some circumstances provide a placement (only), while FACS retains case management.

Case management transfer date (‘CMT date’)

Unless another date is agreed, the CMT date is:

  • the date of commencement of preservation casework, that is the date the receiving provider first makes contact with the child, their parents or family/kin or
  • the date of commencement of OOHC placement of the child with a receiving provider.

The transferring provider always convenes a CMT meeting prior to, or within 10 business days of case management transfer date.

This section does not apply to Temporary Care Agreements (TCAs).

Initial case management transfer

Most CMT initially occurs from FACS to a funded service provider, when FACS decides a funded service provider will have responsibility for achieving a child’s case plan goal.

For children in OOHC, initial CMT only includes children subject to a care application (in the care responsibility of the Secretary of FACS); or children in statutory OOHC as a result of an interim or final care order (in PR of the Minister).

FACS does not CMT children in supported OOHC (in PR of their carer) or subject to a Temporary Care Agreement, to a funded service provider.

CMT may occur before or during an interim order, or after final orders are made. CMT is unaffected by whether or not there are interim or final orders in place.

Case management transfer occurring during case management

CMT occurs during case management if a different funded service provider will have responsibility for achieving a child’s case plan goal.

CMT is avoided when it means change (or abrupt change) in a child’s caseworker, weakens continuity of case management and/or decreases the likelihood the child’s case plan goal can be achieved. Specifically, change in caseworker can have an adverse impact upon the child and their parents or family/kin.

In minimising CMT, funded service providers consider innovative approaches to adapting service delivery to changed circumstances. For example, can additional services be purchased in another city or town where the child has relocated?

An unavoidable transfer of case management may include the following scenarios:

  • the person caring for a child (either family or authorised carer) moves to a different city or town, or a child is restored to a parent in a different city or town; requiring CMT to a different provider operating in the child’s new location
  • a change in a child’s case plan goal occurs and the funded service provider decides – in consultation with FACS, the child and their parents or family/kin – another funded service provider is more able to help achieve the new goal
  • a child’s carer changes funded service providers by changing their authorisation (as carer) from their existing funded service provider to a new funded service provider.

Responsibility for case management transfer tasks

FACS, the transferring provider and receiving provider have important complementary roles in CMT:

  • For a child, their parents and family/kin receiving a PSP preservation service:
    • A Permanency Coordinator provides service sector advice in relation to other preservation services and options.
    • A CFDU seeks a new PSP preservation service.
  • For placement of a child in foster care or Aboriginal foster care, the FACS CFDU makes a broadcast seeking a new OOHC placement.
  • In the case of an OOHC placement in Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC), the FACS CAU makes a broadcast seeking a new Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) placement.
  • The transferring provider convenes a CMT meeting prior to, or within 10 business days of CMT date. This includes all administrative tasks such as:
    • updating the case plan or preparing a new case plan and circulating the meeting minutes and case plan within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed)
    • providing all documents listed in PCMP Resources – Checklist: Documents required for CMT to the receiving provider.

      Note: Responsibility for obtaining any documents not yet available at the time (for example birth certificate, Medicare Card, court orders) is transferred to the receiving provider (including related costs). CMT is not disrupted due to documents that are not yet available or do not exist at the time.

  • The receiving provider:
    • ensures attendance at the CMT meeting by a casework practitioner with decision making delegation
    • begins case management on the CMT date (whether before or after the CMT meeting).

Internal FACS transfer

FACS carries out an internalCMT when – as a result of a CMT between funded service providers – a different FACS district or nominated FACS Unit will be required to:

  • manage contractual arrangements between FACS and the receiving provider
  • complete SARA, risk re-assessment and/or closing safety assessment (preservation and restoration)
  • make any future court application (in the case of guardianship or adoption)
  • exercise the powers and functions of PR.

Internal CMT is addressed separately in FACS Casework Practice Mandate, Transfer of a child or family between teams, Community Services Centre (CSC)'s and JIRT.

Approval of case management transfer

Prior approval is sought from FACS for CMT between funded service providers noting FACS is:

  • the agency that commissions case management provided by a funded service provider (whether or not the child is in OOHC)
  • agency exercising PR for children in statutory OOHC.

Exceptional Circumstances

When a carer changes funded service providers

CMT is sometimes caused when a carer of a child changes their authorisation from an existing funded service provider to a new funded service provider.

Case management of the child may transfer to the new funded service provider with their carer where:

  • the carer is the primary attachment figure for the child and
  • it is agreed by FACS and the existing service provider that CMT is in the child’s best interests.

If the existing funded service provider proposes to change the placement and retain case management of the child, approval is sought from FACS. The existing funded service provider provides evidence as to why CMT (with their existing carer) would not be in the child’s best interests. Factors considered include:

  • the child’s views and wishes and those of their parents and family/kin
  • duration of the placement (for example, crisis or short term placements)
  • whether the CMT would result in separation of case management of a sibling group or
  • if the CMT will have an unmanageable impact upon family or sibling contact time between the child and their parents, siblings or family.
Case management transfer back to FACS

CMT from a funded service provider to FACS occurs in exceptional circumstances when FACS and the funded service provider agree the funded service provider cannot provide the child with safety and/or can no longer achieve the child’s case plan goal.

Delegation for accepting CMT to FACS is set at Category 5, FACS Manager Client Services (and above)[6] in consultation with the FACS Contract Manager.

CMT from a funded service provider to FACS may include:

  • the person caring for a child (either family or authorised carer) moves to a different city or town where there are no funded service providers operating or providing an outreach service and no other services can be purchased by the service provider
  • an Away from placement (unplanned absence) period has expired and no further funding has been provided by FACS
  • circumstances in relation to an interstate movement of a child are so complex that they fall outside the scope of Interstate Movement of Children in OOHC.
  • a critical organisational incident (for example, suspension or cancellation of Child Safe Accreditation) has occurred and FACS and the funded service provider agree that the service provider can no longer provide case management or
  • a child exits statutory OOHC and enters supported OOHC as the result of a court order (the Minister no longer holds PR)

FACS determines that CMT back to FACS is required (as commissioning agency, FACS may withdraw any child from case management of a funded service provider).

[6] The FACS Schedule of Delegations will be updated to reflect this change.

Disengagement

For children in OOHC, see Away from Placement.

For children with a case plan goal of preservation, the funded service provider notifies FACS when a family does not engage (for example does not complete tasks in a Family Action Plan) or makes an unplanned exit from the preservation program.

Ceasing case management

A funded service provider ceases to have responsibility for case management of a child, their parents and family/kin when:

  • FACS and the funded service provider agree the child’s family preservation case plan goal has been achieved:
    • after the expiry of any orders that support achievement of the case plan goal, for example a parent capacity order or
    • where assessed risk of abuse or neglect falls to and remains low or medium risk.
  • FACS and the funded service provider agree the child’s restoration, guardianship or adoption case plan goal has been achieved:
    • after the child exits OOHC, and
    • after the expiry of any orders that support achievement of the case plan goal, for example a shorter term care order (STCO) or supervision order
    • the child is restored consistent with the restoration plan and any court orders or
    • upon the making of a guardianship or adoption order.
  • FACS and the funded service provider agree the child’s case plan goal of long term care has been achieved:
    • at the expiry of the care order and
    • at the point at which the child attains the age of 18 years and
    • when the funded service provider has met its obligations (if applicable) to provide after-care services to the young person.
    • CMTs to another funded service provider.

Respite

What is respite?

Respite is planned, regular or one-off time limited breaks for parents, carers and children. It provides time-out from the demands of the parenting and caring role and can enrich the range of social networks and experiences for the child.

Respite can occur in the child’s home or a variety of out-of-home settings. It can be for different lengths of time and frequency, depending on need of the parent or carer.

Respite can be provided by family/kin, friends, neighbours, volunteers or professional carers. Extended family members who provide regular, frequent respite to children in OOHC are required to be authorised in keeping with clause 33 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulations 2012. Irregular, occasional arrangements, such as a friend’s sleep-over or baby sitting are not considered to be a respite placement, and do not require the person providing respite care to be authorised.

Emergency placements (children in OOHC)

Emergency OOHC placements are not ‘respite’. Respite is only provided to a child in OOHC when the child has a permanent placement.

Respite entitlement

Regardless of whether case management is held by FACS or a funded service provider, carers of a child in OOHC (NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care) and parents of a child receiving PSP preservation casework, are entitled to respite.

The respite entitlement set by FACS and included in costing of PSP funding packages is the equivalent of up to 24 nights respite per year. Whilst the calculation for respite funding is based on ‘nights’:

  • respite can take many forms and is not restricted to overnight care or care outside a carer’s or parent’s home
  • innovative and flexible arrangements can meet the needs of carers and parents while ensuring that a child feels safe and secure.

Key Steps

The need for respite is considered in case planning and recorded in a child’s OOHC case plan (if the child is in OOHC), or family action plan (if the child’s family is receiving preservation casework).

Respite – all children

Potential respite carers are assessed considering a range of factors, including the number of children already in the placement. No more than six children are placed with an authorised carer at any one time. This number includes the carer’s own children.

See PCMP Resources – Checklist: Assessment of Respite Carers.

Respite – Aboriginal children

Respite for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their parents or families/kin is approached in a manner respectful of culture and in accordance with relevant legislation and principles. This includes the Aboriginal Placement Principles (section 13).

Respite is provided by Aboriginal family/kin or Aboriginal person or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO). Where respite is not available from these sources, non Aboriginal respite carers receive cultural awareness training and support from the funded service provider.

Respite – children with CALD background

Respite for children and their families with a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background is approached in a manner respectful of culture and in accordance with relevant legislation and principles.

Children and families from CALD backgrounds are matched with respite carers of the same linguistic, cultural and religious background. When this is not possible, respite carers receive cultural awareness training and support from the funded service provider.

When the carer of a child in OOHC is not of the same cultural, linguistic or religious background, respite with a CALD-matched carer may enhance a child’s cultural connection and identity.

Respite – children with disability

For children with a disability, supports are provided under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) that enable carers to sustain their caring role, including additional respite. For further information, visit the NDIS website.

Respite – siblings

Respite could provide an opportunity for sibling contact time (where siblings live in separate placements). In some circumstances it may be appropriate to arrange respite for sibling groups to maintain family connections and develop or strengthen sibling relationships. Also see Sibling contact time.

Collaborating in OOHC case planning

Applying the Child Assessment Tool

FACS and funded service providers have important complementary roles in applying the Child Assessment Tool (CAT):

  • The Child Assessment Tool (CAT) is only used and applied by FACS Child and Family District Units (CFDUs) in relation to children entering placements with a funded service provider.
  • FACS or a funded service provider casework practitioners, provide information to the CFDU in relation to a child’s behavioural, health and development needs.

The tool does not replace professional judgement regarding placement decisions. Rather, it helps FACS and funded service providers identify the most appropriate level of OOHC for a child.

OOHC placements

In providing new OOHC placements, FACS and a funded service provider have important complementary roles:

  • When FACS identifies a member of a child’s family/kin or other suitable person that is appropriate to be assessed as an authorised carer:
    • FACS conducts a provisional and/or full assessment of the applicant carer or
    • FACS considers asking a funded service provider to conduct the provisional and/or full assessment.
  • If FACS cannot identify a member of a child’s family/kin or other suitable person that is appropriate to be assessed as an authorised carer, FACS CFDU makes a placement broadcast to funded service providers, seeking an authorised carer for the child.
  • If a suitable placement cannot be provided by any funded service provider, places the child with a FACS carer.
  • Funded service providers provide immediate placements to FACS by:
    • responding to FACS placement broadcasts by proposing to provide placements, using their existing pool of authorised carers and
    • recruiting, assessing, authorising and training new carers that are able to provide care in relation to a range of permanency goals and
    • providing support and training to retain carers they authorise.
  • Funded service providers consider whether they have operational capacity to conduct provisional and/or full assessments of new carers that are relative/kin of a child, or other suitable person, if requested by FACS (this is not mandatory).
  • Funded service providers provide new placements to children already in their case management, when a child cannot remain in their existing placement.

Change in OOHC placement

Funded service providers advise FACS of changes to placements, (internally within their agency), within five business days. Change of placement involving case management transfer to another funded service provider requires FACS approval.

Change of placement or placement breakdown under Temporary Care Arrangements is notified to FACS immediately, on the same business day.

Family contact time (for children in OOHC)

Case management of a child in OOHC strengthens and enhances the child’s relationship and connectedness with their parents, siblings and family/kin.

Based on common principles, the service provider and authorised carers all have important complementary roles in relation to family contact time between a child in OOHC and their family:

  • A service provider helps their carer to support a child to stay in-touch with parents, family/kin. This includes involving them in planning family and sibling contact time and listening to the carer’s concerns.
  • Carers encourage and support a child in their care to spend time with parents and family/kin by:
    • preparing them for family and sibling contact time
    • keeping a record of and providing information about their experiences in care
    • taking the child to and from family family and sibling contact times
    • supporting planned and flexible planning for family and sibling contact times
    • supervising or participating in family or sibling contact times with the child (where assessed as safe and appropriate by the service provider) and
    • developing a relationship with the child’s parents, siblings and family.

Time with parents and family/kin can be reassuring for the child while they are in OOHC. It shows them that they are still part of their parents’ lives. It can help children and parents who’ve had difficult relationships learn new ways of behaving.

Also see Sibling contact time and Respite – Siblings.

Case planning for siblings in OOHC

The term ‘sibling’ describes children that share one or both (biological) parent. In circumstances where children do not share either of the same (biological) parents but have grown up together and share a very strong bond and self-identify as siblings, they are considered psychological siblings.

Children in statutory OOHC need stability, continuity and security in their life. One way to meet this need is by reconnecting a child with their siblings, or maintaining and strengthening their existing relationships. This can:

  • improve the child’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of their siblings and
  • increase the likelihood of permanency outcomes, for example restoration.

What is Sibling case planning?

Case planning for a child’s sibling relationships is initially considered when a child enters OOHC. However case planning for sibling relationships occurs at all points of case management following entry to OOHC.

Sibling case planning is an immediate priority – it does not wait until a future case review. Delay to sibling case planning, risks a child experiencing extended periods of isolation from their siblings.

Case planning for a child’s sibling relationships:

  • is informed by continuous work with a child’s genogram and life story work, to ensure all siblings are identified and are known (or known of) by the child
  • considers the impact upon the child’s sibling relationship and sense of identity where:
    • the child is in OOHC but their siblings are not
    • the child is in one placement and their siblings are in other placements
    • the child and their siblings’ placements are case managed by different service providers (FACS and/or funded service providers) and/or
    • the child’s case plan goal is different to the case plan goals of their siblings.
  • aims to bring the child and their siblings into fewer OOHC placements and under the case management of fewer or one funded service provider and
  • aims to cause the child and their siblings (where appropriate) to all have the same case plan goal, for example:
    • to restore the child to their parents, if any of the siblings are already in the care of their parents or
    • to transition the child from (statutory) OOHC to the care of members of their family/kin, if any of the siblings are in the care of those family/kin members.
  • ensures sibling contact time enhances and strengthens the relationship between the child and their siblings.

Co-placement and co-location

When a child and their siblings are in different placements, FACS and/or funded service providers (whichever has case management), consider how the children may be co-placed and co-located where assessed to be in their best interests:

  • Sibling co-placement involves the placement of a child and their siblings in the same residential setting under the care of the same carer. It includes partial co-placement - as many of the siblings as possible are co-placed resulting in an overall reduction in the number of placements across the sibling group
  • Sibling co-location involves placement of a child and their siblings (in two or more placements) in the same geographical area which results in substantially increased opportunities for contact with each-other, for example, allowing them to attend the same school or child care centre, or participate in the same extra-curricular activities.
Assessment of co-placement or co-location

Assessment of the viability of co-placement or co-location is undertaken by casework practitioners. The more complex the assessment, the more important it is that it be conducted by a casework practitioner that knows the child, their parents and family/kin. However in some circumstances, assessments may be undertaken by an independent assessor.

The assessment considers:

  • what type of change in a child’s care arrangements is necessary to bring the child and their siblings into fewer OOHC placements
  • the impact of change to the care arrangements on a child and/or their siblings.

Specific factors to be assessed include child and family views and wishes, carer’s views, child development, child needs, placement stability, quality and strength of attachment, cultural suitability and risk of harm. See PCMP Resources – Checklist: Assessing Sibling Contact.

Placement of larger sibling groups

The PSP funding model includes two care options which allows for placement of larger sibling groups together. See PCMP Resources – Funding: PSP Packages & Cost Components (as at 01 July 2018).

A funded service provider seeks guidance in relation to the following two care options from FACS Permanency Coordinators.

The 4+ Sibling Placement Package supports funded service providers to maintain four or more siblings in a foster care placement together. The funding package provides funding for increased infrastructure or carer costs, or wrap-around supports to meet the needs of families.

The Therapeutic Sibling Option Placement (TSOP) is a component of the Intensive Therapeutic Care service model:

  • for children 12 years of age and over with a Child Assessment Tool outcome of ‘high’ or score of 5 or above (and may include some siblings that are under 12 years) and
  • is subject to assessment and approval by the Child Assessment Unit (CAU).

The TSOP service model provides for children to be cared for by permanent authorised live-in carers who provide 24/7 care in a home provided and maintained by a funded service provider. TSOP aims to:

  • preserve sibling groups and nurture the attachment bond between family/kin
  • provide a safe, structured and nurturing environment in which the child is provided with the support to achieve their therapeutic case plan goal.

Aligning case plan goals

When a child and their siblings have different case plan goals, FACS and/or funded service providers (whichever has case management) review whether it is in a child’s best interests for the case plan goal to change to align with the case plan goal of their siblings. For example:

  • to restore the child to their parents, if any of their siblings are in parental care or
  • to transition the child from statutory OOHC to the care of their family/kin, if any of their siblings are in the care of those family/kin.

When the individual needs of a child and their siblings warrant different case plan goals, FACS and/or funded service providers (whichever has case management):

  • explain to the child and their siblings and their parents and family/kin why it is necessary for there to be different case plan goals and
  • listen deeply to their views, wishes and suggestions about how any of the case plan goals might change in future.

See Changing the case plan goal.

Continuity and consistency of casework

Continuity and consistency of casework across a sibling group may be more efficient and effective with fewer funded service providers or one service provider with case management and fewer caseworkers or one caseworker.

When a child and their siblings are placed separately and there is more than one service provider with case management, FACS and/or funded service providers (whichever has case management) take steps to transfer case management to:

  • reduce the number of service providers or
  • result in there being just one funded service provider with case management.

See Case Management Transfer.

When a child and their siblings in case management of a service provider (either FACS or funded service provider), have more than one caseworker assigned case responsibility, the service provider takes steps to re-allocate responsibility in a way that:

  • reduces the number of caseworkers or
  • results in there being just one caseworker allocated responsibility.

Sibling contact time

When a child and their siblings are placed separately subject to assessment, FACS and/or funded service providers (whichever has case management), ensure siblings:

  • have regular sibling contact time with each other
  • have ‘sibling-only’ contact time, that is contact with each other, without the presence of parents or other family/kin
  • are provided with information about their respective care arrangements, including information about changes in their placement
  • are provided with information about their siblings’ birthdays and other relevant dates, and where practical, have sibling contact time to celebrate these occasions
  • are provided with their siblings’ contact details, including their telephone number and email address, unless there is a court order prohibiting the disclosure of this information, or when a caseworker considers that disclosing this information could place the child or others in the household at risk of harm.

The development of a sibling contact plan by FACS or a funded service provider always:

  • includes the participation of the siblings and their carers in the planning process and
  • includes consultation with the siblings parents and family/kin
  • is subject to quarterly reviews of the sibling contact plan – in addition to annual case review – to ensure sibling contact time is occurring.

Note: the inclusion of a range of persons in the planning process does not infer that all persons are required to agree on a particular plan.

For a child and their siblings with a cultural and linguistically diverse background who are placed separately:

  • their OOHC case plans include sibling contact time that enables them to participate in cultural, linguistic or religious activities as a sibling group and
  • their carers demonstrate they have sufficient understanding and appreciation of the cultural, linguistic or religious background of the siblings and are committed to maintaining their cultural identity.

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child and their siblings placed separately:

  • their OOHC case plans include sibling contact time that enable them to participate in cultural activities ‘on country’ as a sibling group and
  • their carers demonstrate they have sufficient understanding and appreciation of the children’s Indigenous country, tribe, clan and language and are committed to maintaining their cultural identity.

Interstate movement of children in OOHC

Interstate movement of a child is not the same as interstate transfer of an order.

  • Interstate movement of a child concerns a physical movement of the child to an address in another jurisdiction that becomes their usual place of residence (for example, for the purposes of enrolment in school).
  • Interstate transfer of an order concerns transfer, or registration, of a NSW care order in another jurisdiction, effectively transferring the order to the other State and altering the child’s legal status.

Requirement for permission & compliance with Interstate Protocol

Whether children in PR of the Minister are case managed by FACS or a funded service provider, all proposed interstate movements require:

  • permission of a FACS Principal Officer, being FACS Director Operations or Director Community Services, 42 days prior to the child or young person moving interstate
  • consultation with FACS Interstate Liaison and
  • compliance with obligations and responsibilities articulated in the Interstate Child Protection Protocol.

However the requirement for permission by a FACS Principal Officer does not include interstate travel for specified periods of up to 3 months. This may be approved by a Category 5 Officer, which includes FACS Manager Casework. For example, FACS Managers’ casework may approve interstate travel for regular attendance at school or sport or overnight sleepovers.

The funded service providers role in requesting permission

When interstate movement of a child in case management of a funded service provider is proposed, the funded service provider:

  • makes a request for permission from the FACS principal officer for the proposed interstate movement, using templates and guidance provided by FACS Interstate Liaison to plan for an interstate movement
  • provides written information about how they propose to:
    • support birth family contact, relationships and identity
    • maintain support of the child and carer in the placement and
    • support achievement of the child’s permanency goal
  • provides information about a new placement (if a change to the placement is proposed) including evidence of the proposed carer’s authorisation as a carer in NSW – see Changing the placement
  • notifies of any proposed change in funded service provider (if a change in funded service provider is required – see Case management transfer)
  • initiates a ‘proposal to change the case plan goal’ (if a change to the goal is proposed) providing evidence of prior casework and pre-assessment – see Changing the case plan goal
  • documents the outcome of the request for permission.

FACS role in giving or declining permission

The decision to give or decline permission for a proposed interstate movement is made by FACS as:

  • agency that commissions case management by a funded service provider
  • agency exercising PR for children in statutory OOHC.

The FACS principal officer:

  • uses the Interstate Child Protection Protocol, relevant FACS Casework Practice Mandates and the PSP Permanency Case Management Policy, Rules and Practice Guidance (PCMP) to consider requests for permission
  • requests or gathers further information, or obtains legal advice from the FACS Child Law Legal Officer (as required) to inform the decision
  • gives or declines permission for interstate movements using templates and guidance provided by FACS Interstate Liaison and
  • ensures the rationale for permission; conditional permission or declining permission is documented in ChildStory.

Requirement for a nominated FACS unit to hold secondary responsibility

Although the Minister transfers case management to funded service providers, funded service providers are not delegated any powers and functions of PR (PR)[7] in relation to interstate movements of children in statutory OOHC and cannot make these decisions.

It is a requirement that a nominated FACS unit hold decision making responsibility for a child that has or will move interstate.

The nominated FACS unit makes all decisions in relation to:

  • movement of the child interstate
  • interstate requests of the other jurisdiction
  • all PR decisions while the child resides interstate (until/unless transfer of orders) and
  • arranging transfer of orders.

The nominated FACS unit:

  • liaises with the FACS Principal Officer
  • ensures the Interstate Child Protection Protocol, FACS Casework Practice Mandates and the Permanency Case Management Policy, (PCMP) have been followed and
  • documents all decisions on ChildStory.

Key steps - principal officer gives permission

When a FACS principal officer gives permission for interstate movement of a child, FACS and the funded service provider have important complementary roles:

  • FACS’ principal officer provides the funded service provider with written advice of:
    • the decision to give permission and any reasons for it and
    • any additional conditions that are to be met subject to permission taking effect.
  • The funded service provider submits an updated OOHC case plan to the nominated FACS unit, at least 21 days prior to the proposed interstate movement.
  • FACS Interstate Liaison provides advice and support to the principal officer and nominated FACS unit (as required).
  • The funded service provider convenes an interstate movement meeting with the nominated FACS unit and any other relevant stakeholders.This includes all administrative tasks such as updating the case plan or preparing a new case plan and circulating the meeting minutes and case plan within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).

An officer of the nominated FACS unit with decision making delegation (grade nine or above) attends the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is to identify roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder, considering:

  • actions prescribed by relevant legislation and regulations in the receiving jurisdiction
  • what requests are to be made of the interstate child protection department under the Interstate Child Protection Protocol
  • how the funded service provider will respond to possible placement breakdowns, allegations against the proposed carer, reportable conduct, and quality of care concerns
  • how FACS will assess possible ROSH reports and what support will be required of the funded service provider and
  • how interstate transfer of the child’s care order will be facilitated.

[7] Barnardos is delegated certain powers and functions of parental responsibility under a deed entered into by the Minister for Family & Community Services and Barnardos. However this delegation to Barnardos does not include power to give permission for interstate movements of children in OOHC.

Key steps - principal officer declines to give permission

When a FACS principal officer declines to give permission for interstate movement of a child, FACS and the funded service provider have important complementary roles:

  • The FACS principal officer provides the funded service provider with written advice of the decision to decline to give permission and the reasons for this decision.
  • FACS Interstate Liaison provides advice and support to the principal officer and nominated FACS unit (as required).
  • The funded service provider convenes a case meeting with the nominated FACS unit, the child’s current carer and/or proposed carer, the child, their parents or family (where appropriate) and any other relevant stakeholders. This includes all administrative tasks such as circulating the meeting minutes within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).

    An officer of the nominated FACS unit with decision making delegation attends the meeting.

    The purpose of the meeting is to:

    • provide the carer with information and the rationale for the decision
    • listen to the carers views and wishes and
    • explore alternatives that meet the child’s needs and how these are to be funded.
  • The funded service provider prepares and submits to FACS an updated OOHC case plan that addresses the child’s needs in the context of the child remaining in NSW. For example, it may include regular visits to interstate family/kin under an interstate travel authority.

Key steps - interstate movement of a child occurs without permission

When FACS learns there has been an interstate movement of a child without permission, FACS and the funded service provider have important complementary roles.

  • The FACS principal officer writes to the funded service provider and requests they provide, within seven days, written information about:
    • the circumstances that led to the interstate movement including key dates, residential address, school in which the child is enrolled, persons involved and
    • the reasons why permission for the interstate movement wasn’t obtained.
  • The funded service provider provides information requested by the FACS principal officer. Additionally the funded service provider provides information about how they are currently:
    • supporting birth family contact, relationships and identity
    • maintaining support of the child and carer in the placement and
    • supporting achievement of the child’s permanency goal.
  • FACS Interstate Liaison provides advice and support to the principal officer and nominated FACS unit (as required).
  • FACS Commissioning and Planning provide advice to the nominated FACS unit (as required).

    The funded service provider convenes an urgent interstate movement meeting, within 14 days, with the nominated FACS unit and any other relevant stakeholders. This includes all administrative tasks such as circulating the meeting minutes within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).

    An officer of the nominated FACS unit with decision making delegation (grade nine or above) attends the meeting.

    The purpose of the interstate movement meeting is to:

    • explore what case-specific, systemic or other issues brought about the interstate movement without permission
    • consider any contractual or funding issues arising from the movement
    • inform the funded service provider that funding (foster care package only) will temporarily cease because it has become an unauthorised arrangement
    • consider whether any party has acted in breach of the Care Act, Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012, or other statute and
    • discuss and record minimum requirements (including timeframes) for resolution.
  • In some circumstances, the nominated FACS unit convenes a legal consultation with the FACS Child Law Legal Officer to obtain additional legal advice. For example, advice in relation to:
    • issuing a direction under section 154(2)(b) or 232 or
    • seeking a warrant under section 233.
  • FACS’ principal officer, having considered all of the information and advice, makes a decision to give, or decline, permission for the interstate movement of the child.
  • If permission is given, refer to Principal officer gives permission.

    If permission is not given, refer to Principal officer declines to give permission.

  • In addition when permission is not given, the nominated FACS unit convenes a follow-up interstate movement meeting with the funded service provider and other relevant stakeholders. This includes all administrative tasks such as circulating the meeting minutes within 5 business days (unless a different timeframe is agreed).
  • The purpose of this meeting is to identify roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder, considering:

    • how the funded service provider intends to address the minimum requirements for resolution
    • what actions are prescribed by relevant legislation and regulations in the receiving jurisdiction
    • what actions to be taken by FACS, arising from legal advice and
    • what requests are to be made of the interstate child protection department under the Interstate Child Protection Protocol.

Key steps - funded service provider becomes aware of ROSH

When a funded service provider receives information that indicates a child that has moved interstate is at ROSH, the service provider makes a report to:

  • the statutory child protection authority in the interstate jurisdiction and
  • the NSW Child Protection Helpline.

If a funded service provider receives information that indicates a child has moved interstate as a result of being forcibly abducted, the service provider immediately makes a report to:

  • NSW Police and police in the interstate jurisdiction
  • the statutory child protection authority in the interstate jurisdiction and
  • the NSW Child Protection Helpline.

Reviewable decisions

The decision by FACS to give or decline permission for a proposed interstate movement of a child is not a reviewable decision (section 245).

Key Documents

Away from placement (previously unplanned absence)

We are working hard to get this policy (which is in the advance stages of development) into the 2018 update.

Legal issues

Information Exchange

Information about a child, their parents or family/kin that is relevant to assessment and case management and planning is exchanged between FACS and funded service providers within the provisions of relevant legislation. However, some types of information cannot be exchanged, for example the identity of, or information that could lead to the identification of, a person who has made a report to FACS is protected (section 29).

FACS and funded service providers to provide relevant information requested (Chapter 16A and section 248) within 10 business days (unless another timeframe is agreed) or within other timeframes for providing evidence.

Court proceedings

In circumstances where case management has been transferred to a funded service provider before or during court proceedings, FACS and the funded service provider both have important complementary roles:

  • FACS is a model litigant in the proceedings, whether or not initiated by FACS.
  • FACS liaises with a funded service provider and seeks direct contact with a child, their parents, family/kin and carers in order to:
    • continually assess risk
    • coordinate and file evidence in proceedings based on first hand involvement with the child, family/kin and carers and
    • provide the funded service provider with notice when it can be reasonably anticipated that their affidavit/report authors will be required to give evidence in court, for example notifying the FSP and authors when hearing dates are set.

FACS informs the funded service provider when making contact is planned, or if that is not possible, immediately after it has occurred.

  • During court proceedings, funded service providers with case management:
    • facilitate direct contact by FACS casework practitioners with a child, their parents, family/kin and carers
    • share all relevant information including in response to FACS requests for information to enable timely assessment, filing of all relevant evidence in proceedings and progress of the court proceedings.
  • Funded service providers support FACS in Children’s Court proceedings by:
    • Providing evidence including affidavits or reports on the placement and other information on the child, their family and kin and their placement
    • arranging for affidavit/report authors to be available to give evidence in the Children’s Court if required
    • implementing decisions regarding drug and alcohol or DNA testing of parents
    • contributing to developing a care plan with FACS
    • complying with Children’s Court orders, including preparation of section 76 or 82 reports by the due dates and
    • organising contact, respite or other action in accordance with court orders.

Providing evidence

FACS may request a funded service provider with current or prior case management to provide relevant information about a child, their parents or family/kin, to be filed as evidence in court proceedings. Information may include family action plans, OOHC case plans, records of family and sibling contact time, school reports, health reports or other assessments.

The funded service provider makes reasonable efforts to provide the information to FACS within five business days of a request or contacts FACS and negotiates a different time frame.

An employee of a funded service provider may be required to give evidence in the proceedings by way of affidavit or written report. If so, that employee is likely to be required to attend court to be cross examined (asked questions) about that evidence at the final hearing.

Court Outcomes

FACS provides a funded service provider (that is not a party to court proceedings) with information about the court outcomes. Reasonable efforts are made by FACS to provide the information about court outcomes within two business days of FACS receiving a report of the outcome from the FACS legal officer, external legal practitioner or court liaison officer.

The information provided by FACS may include:

  • the date of the court appearance and any future relevant court dates
  • interim or final orders made and any notations to those orders
  • the timetable (due dates) for filing evidence or reports
  • any relevant undertakings given by any party
  • any agreements between parties in relation to family and sibling contact time or other arrangements impacting upon the placement and
  • any other matters that may be relevant to a child’s placement.

Information about a court outcome is important to make sure the funded service provider is aware of and acts in accordance with interim or final orders made by the court, and to:

  • put in place appropriate family and sibling contact times between a child, their parents and family/kin, and provide information to the carer that is relevant to the child’s placement (for children in OOHC)
  • put in place appropriate arrangements to support compliance with other orders, for example a parent capacity order, undertakings or a supervision order.

It is not the role of funded service providers to provide information about court proceedings to:

  • a child – this is the role of the child’s independent or direct legal representative
  • the child’s parents or family/kin – this is the role of the parent’s legal representative.

However a funded service provider casework practitioner may:

  • give information to the child of a general nature in relation to court proceedings
  • facilitate the child making contact with their legal representative
  • facilitate the child making contact with a FACS casework practitioner that is giving instructions or involved in giving instructions in court proceedings.

Information that may not be provided by FACS to a funded service provider includes:

  • information protected by legal professional privilege, for example records containing legal advice given by a FACS legal officer or external legal practitioner
  • Children’s Court Clinic assessment reports and documents filed in the proceedings by other parties, unless the Court has granted leave.

A FACS legal officer is able to provide advice about whether information may be subject to a claim of privilege and, if the information is privileged, whether FACS should agree to waive privilege.

Children’s Court Clinic Assessment

Access to a Children’s Court Clinic Assessment report by a funded service provider that is not a party to court proceedings, can generally only be provided with leave of the Children’s Court. Exceptions include where the assessment report is an annexure or attachment to the child’s care plan.

FACS seeks leave to provide the report to the funded service provider. The FACS legal officer or external legal practitioner makes the application during proceedings and before final orders are made.

Dispute Resolution Conferences

If agreed by all parties, the funded service provider casework practitioner (that is not a party to proceedings) attends a Dispute Resolution Conference (DRC) and provides input, noting:

  • they have/will have a casework relationship with the child, their parents and family/kin
  • they may possess first-hand knowledge about the placement and carer
  • they will most likely be implementing the care plan approved by the court.

Permission for the funded service provider’s casework practitioner to attend the DRC is sought by the FACS legal officer or external legal practitioner, in accordance with FACS’ instructions.

In giving instructions, the FACS casework practitioner considers:

  • the relevance of the casework practitioner’s likely input to the issues in dispute
  • whether the casework practitioner’s input will help all parties reach an agreement
  • the extent of the casework practitioner’s relationship with the child
  • whether the casework practitioner attends all or part of the DRC
  • legal advice provided by the FACS legal officer or external legal practitioner
  • any other relevant factors.

Permission for the casework practitioner to attend a DRC is decided by the Children’s Registrar who convenes the DRC. In considering the request, the Registrar seeks the views of all parties.

If permission is granted, the casework practitioner follows the guidance of FACS’ legal officer or external legal practitioner regarding their participation, and the guidance of the Children’s Registrar.

The funded service provider casework practitioner is bound by confidentiality of the DRC.

Developing a Care Plan

FACS works collaboratively with a funded service provider when developing a care plan for a child. This includes:

  • ensuring the service provider is invited to participate in a care plan meeting
  • providing at least two business days for a service provider to provide input in relation to draft plans (unless a different timeframe is agreed) and
  • providing the service provider with a copy of the sealed care plan as soon as it is approved by the Court.

Funded service providers:

  • assist FACS in convening a care plan meeting and
  • provide written comments in relation to draft care plans (to FACS), within two business days (unless a different time frame is agreed)
  • destroy draft copies of a care plan and only place sealed care plan on the child’s file.

The development of care plans includes cultural plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children, their parents and families/kin - this is mandatory.

Following making of final orders by the Children’s Court, the funded service provider is responsible for implementing those parts of the care plan that are within its care responsibility.

Section 76 or 82 reports

The funded service provider is responsible for:

  • preparing a section 76 report regarding the progress and outcomes of a supervision order, or section 82 report regarding the suitability of a child’s OOHC arrangements, following making of final orders by the Children’s Court and
  • providing FACS with a copy of the section 76 or 82 report five business days prior to the date on which it is due to be filed.

FACS is responsible for approving and filing section 76/82 reports prepared by a funded service provider. See Functions of Parent Responsibility exercised by FACS.

New court proceedings

Any decision to initiate new care proceedings (section 61) or re-open (section 90) proceedings in the Children’s Court is made by FACS in consultation with a funded service provider with case management. However a child, their parent, family/kin or any person with an interest in the welfare of a child can apply to re-open proceedings.

FACS is always a party to new or re-opened court proceedings.

FACS provides a funded service provider that is not a party to court proceedings with information about new or re-opened court proceedings. FACS provides the information to the funded service provider as soon as it is made available, and where possible, prior to the matter being listed in court.

Joint allocation of PR for children in OOHC

Where a final care order is made allocating PR to a suitable person and the Minister jointly:

  • the child is considered to be in statutory OOHC where the Minister retains the aspect of residence
  • The child is considered to be in supported OOHC where the suitable person (not the Minister) retains the aspect of residence solely.

Case management of children in supported OOHC is not transferred to funded service providers.

Resolving conflict

FACS and funded service providers may experience occasional conflict as a normal part of working together collaboratively and playing different but complementary roles. Conflict may occur in part due to access to resources, different expectations in relation to service delivery or role clarity.

How conflicts are handled, not the fact that they happen, determines whether they are constructive or unhelpful. Being able to express conflict in a professional relationship and between agencies is a sign of a mature and resilient service system.

FACS districts and funded service providers use existing conflict resolution procedures that aim to:

  • resolve problems at a district level in the first instance, and
  • strengthen the capacity of the service system to achieve better outcomes for children, their parents and family/kin.

FACS Central Office is reviewing the state-wide external engagement framework. Once finalised this will provide a mechanism for FACS and funded service providers to escalate systemic issues (including policy amendments) for discussion and resolution.

Roles and Responsibilities

Relevant statutory powers exercised by FACS

FACS is an agency with statutory powers that allow it to:

  • respond to ROSH (child protection) and
  • exercise functions of PR (for children in OOHC).

See PCMP Resources – List: Powers and Functions of Parental Responsibility.

Functions of Parental Responsibility exercised by FACS

The powers of PR exercised by FACS in relation to children in statutory OOHC include all the powers, duties, responsibilities and authority which by law, parents have in relation to their children. This means making certain decisions in relation to a child that a parent would normally make.

The Minister is able to delegate its powers to exercise specific functions of PR to any officer of FACS or the principal officer of a funded service provider. Currently through a deed of agreement, the Minister has delegated powers to one funded service provider [8] to exercise specific (not all) functions of PR.

All other funded service providers are not delegated any of these powers. However, the Minister is able to transfer case management to a funded service provider which then has supervisory responsibility of the child’s placement; including supervising the authorised carers’ exercise of care responsibility and provision of day-to-day care and control of the child.

See PCMP Resources – List: Statutory Powers exercised by FACS and List: Powers & Functions exercised by FACS .

[8] Barnardos NSW

FACS

When case management transfers to a funded service provider, responsibility for day to day keeping in touch with the child, their parents and family/kin rests with the service provider. The funded service provider provides professional support and practical assistance to help them achieve their child’s case plan goal.

After transfer of case management, FACS continues to have an important role to monitor and support the funded service provider’s provision of case management.

Commissioning and Planning

FACS district Commissioning and Planning works to improve service system capacity and capability to provide children, their parents and families/kin with quality services. They collate and analyse data in relation to the performance of the PSP funding model (see PCMP Resources – Funding: PSP Packages & Cost Components) to:

  • identify gaps in the service system, building service system and practice capacity
  • identify and respond to systemic, operational or governance issues and
  • monitor and report on the performance of the service system, to ensure it is driving better outcomes for children, their parents and families/kin.

Commissioning and Planning Contract Managers work closely with funded service providers to implement contractual arrangements and develop their capacity to deliver professional support and practical assistance to children, their parents and families/kin, under the Permanency Support Program.

Permanency Coordinators

Permanency Coordinators have extensive knowledge about services provided locally in the service system. They act as a link between FACS and funded service providers, providing advice about Permanency Support Packages to achieve the permanency case plan goal. Permanency Coordinators are not caseworkers, contract managers or casework decision-makers. They are Permanency Support Program experts and provide advice and support to all stakeholders under the program.

Child and Family District Unit

Child and Family District Units (CFDU) in each FACS district act as the key interface between funded service providers and FACS in relation to children by:

  • vacancy management and coordinating referrals to funded service providers for children, their parents, family/kin and carers
  • coordinating placement broadcasts to funded service providers to provide placements for children
  • supporting funded service providers to administer case management
  • exercising powers and functions of PR (if the child is in OOHC).

Child and Family District Units provide advice to funded service providers about:

  • operation of Permanency Case Management Policy, Rules and Practice Guidance
  • local district structure and operating models (unique to a specific district).

CFDUs are also the point of contact for funded service providers where there has been a significant change in relevant circumstances for the child, their parents and family/kin that requires review. They liaise with district Commissioning and Planning teams, Permanency Coordinators and local FACS CSC casework teams when contacted by funded service providers about:

Central Access Unit

The Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) system has a centralised referral pathway – the ‘Central Access Unit’ (CAU). The CAU uses a broad assessment to determine if a child enters ITC, if they cannot be immediately supported in a family-based or foster care placement.

FACS Community Services Centre

FACS CSC casework teamswork collaboratively with funded service providers when:

Commissioning services

Case management of a child, their parent and family/kin may be provided by a FACS (internal) service or purchased from a funded service provider .

Services provided by FACS

FACS provides case management (internally) through FACS CSCs and FACS districts.

Family preservation services are provided by local FACS Child Protection teams and district specialist teams including Child Protection Adolescent Teams (CPAT). These teams use evidence informed and evidence based models including:

  • Family Action Planning (FAP) for change and
  • Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS).

Preservation, restoration, guardianship, adoption and long term care services are provided by local FACS OOHC teams and statewide specialist teams including Intensive Support Services (ISS) teams.

PSP services

Case management is purchased from funded service providers under the Permanency Support Program (PSP) using service packages under the PSP funding model. See PCMP Resources – List: PSP Services.

Non-PSP Services

FACS purchases non-PSP services from other service providers.

Non-PSP family preservation and restoration services in many districts use evidence informed or evidence based models including:

  • Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) and Intensive Family Based Service (IFBS)
  • Brighter Futures and Youth Hope
  • Multi-systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Functional Family Therapy through Child Welfare (FFT-CW).

Typically, FACS seeks non-PSP services through existing referral pathways. The provision of non-PSP services may or may not involve a transfer of case management, subject to the program description and funding agreement of respective providers.

Monitoring progress

The funded service provider:

  • reviews progress toward achieving the child’s case plan goal, with the child, their parents, families/kin and carers’ (if applicable)
  • provides information and data regarding progress toward achievement of case plan goals to FACS through ChildStory, district reporting procedures and subject to their Program Level Agreement (PLA).

FACS districts:

  • monitor progress of all children in case management of funded service providers toward achieving their case plan goal and
  • the overall performance of the service system.

See PCMP Resources – Overview: PSP Case Plan Goal to Permanency Outcome.

Printable version

Was this content useful?
Last updated: 30 Aug 2018
530953