The Ability Links NSW program helps people with disability plan for their future and respects their individual decision-making.
‘Linkers’ are employees who work with people with disability, their families and carers to help them plan for their future, and to connect with support services and their communities. Early Linkers support families with young children with disability aged 0-8.
Ability Links is supporting the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in NSW.
Aboriginal Community Housing Provider (ACHP)
Aboriginal Housing Office
The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) is part of FACS.
It is a statutory body established under the NSW Aboriginal Housing Act 1998 to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, quality housing. The AHO is funded by the NSW and Australian Governments to manage NSW’s Aboriginal community housing assets.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle
The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 recognises the importance of placing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people with family or other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. The preferred order specified in section 13 of the Act is (subject to the safety of the child): the child's extended family or kinship group; the child's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community; or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, whenever possible.
An adoption order is made by the Supreme Court of NSW and legally transfers all parental rights and responsibilities, guardianship and custody from the child's parents to the adoptive parents.
The main factor considered by the court in deciding whether to grant an order is the “best interest” of the child – adoption must be considered to be a better option than any other legal action that could be taken in relation to the care of the child.
Advance Rent helps client who have severe financial difficulty in meeting the starting costs of tenancy in the private rental market. It is provided as a one-off payment under Rentstart and is not repaid to FACS.
Ageing, Disability and Home Care
Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) is part of FACS and provides services and support to seniors, people with disability, their families and carers. ADHC also provides administrative support to the Disability Council of NSW and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing (MACA).
Until 19 February 2016, the Home Care Service of NSW (Home Care) was managed by ADHC. Home Care is now owned and managed by Australian Unity.
A Bond Loan helps clients meet up to 75 per cent of the bond costs for a private rental tenancy. It is available under Rentstart.
Clients repay the loan throughout their tenancy. FACS will return payments at the end of a tenancy if there is no bond claim made by the landlord or real estate agent.
Brighter Futures is an early intervention program which assists families of children who are at high risk of entering or escalating through the statutory child protection system.
It is designed for families with children aged under nine years or who are expecting a child. Priority of access is given to families with children under three years of age. Brighter Futures is delivered by non-government agencies.
Before July 2014, Brighter Futures assisted families who did not meet the risk of significant harm (ROSH) threshold. Since July 2014, Brighter Futures has been accepting families who meet the ROSH threshold and need a higher level of support.
· Engaged or participating in the Brighter Futures program
Families are ‘engaged’ when a Brighter Futures support worker has been allocated to work with a family and is building trust and rapport to encourage participation in the program. Families are considered to be ‘participating’ in the program once they have formally agreed to participate.
· Referral pathway for Brighter Futures
This means where the referral has come from, such as from the Child Protection Helpline, a non-government agency, a caseworker or an individual.
In KiDS (a record system), case plans are an accurate and up-to-date record of goals and actions for the child or young person and their family or carers receiving a child protection response.
All children and young people who receive a visit from a caseworker must have a case plan. A case plan may be closed when the case plan goal has been achieved.
Case planning is a process used to identify ways to meet the immediate and longer-term safety and wellbeing needs of the child or young person. This includes ways to keep a child or young person connected with their family and community and to support their health, wellbeing, education, emotional and social development.
Wherever possible, case plans are developed with families, carers and other important people in the child’s life.
Child and young person concern reports refer to reports made by individuals who reasonably suspect that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm and who have current concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of the child or young person.
Child Protection Helpline
The Child Protection Helpline is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, state-wide call centre. It is staffed by professionally qualified caseworkers who receive all reports concerning children or young people.
Children and Young People
Child or children refer to those aged up to 16 years.
Young people refer to those aged between 16 and 18.
* Please note, in this glossary, child or children is sometimes used to refer to all children and young people.
Client Information Systems and Data Warehouse/Repositories
FACS operates a number of client information systems and associated data warehouses/repositories to store key performance data used to meet the needs of internal and external stakeholders. These include:
- Key Information and Directory System (KiDS): The KiDS system is the FACS child protection electronic records system. The repository for information from the KiDS is the Corporate Information Warehouse (CIW). KiDS data is uploaded on a daily basis.
- Housing Operations Management and Extended Services (HOMES) system: HOMES captures operational data for the management of housing clients, vendors and assets. The Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is the repository for information uploaded from HOMES. HOMES data is uploaded monthly.
- Community Housing Information Management ‘E’ System (CHIMES): The CHIMES is a customer relationship management system used to capture information about community housing. The system is used to monitor and manage contractual arrangements with community housing providers, capture information about properties the sector owns and/or manages, and record interactions. CHIMES is a cloud-based system which is live.
- Client Information System (CIS): The CIS is the integrated client information management system for disability clients. Client and service statistics are sent to the Disability Services Minimum Data Set repository each quarter.
Community Care Supports Program
The Community Care Supports Program (CCSP) funds basic maintenance and support services essential to maintaining the wellbeing of younger people with disability and their carers (such as nutrition, home help or personal care).
The program aims to prevent younger people living in the community at risk of premature or inappropriate admission to residential care. In this context, ‘younger people’ refers to people who are under 65 years of age, or 50 for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
See Social Housing.
Community Housing Information Management ‘E’ System (CHIMES)
Community Housing Provider
Direct Payment Agreement
Direct payments provide funding in bank accounts instead of pre-determined support packages, for people with disability who have the capacity to self-manage their supports. This enables clients to control, choose and purchase their supports and services.
The Direct Payment Agreement (DPA) is a contract that sets out the terms and conditions under which a client can spend their funding. Before receiving direct funding, clients or their nominated person must enter into a DPA with FACS.
Disability is a broad term which refers to people with all kinds of impairment, whether from birth or acquired through illness, accident or the ageing process. It includes cognitive and intellectual impairment as well as physical, sensory and psychiatric disability (or a combination).
Under the NSW Disability Inclusion Act 2014, FACS can provide or fund services, supports and/or individualised funding to a person who has a permanent – or likely to be permanent – disability requiring support with communication, learning, mobility, decision making and/ or self care. Services are also available for families and carers of people with disability.
Disability Services Minimum Data Set
The Disability Services Minimum Data Set (DS MDS) is a national data collection which includes information about funded disability services and service users. The DS MDS is managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and consists of a set of nationally agreed data items and information that are collected by all Australian jurisdictions, and an agreed method of collection and transmission.
Disability Severity of Limitation
Disability severity of limitation refers to need for assistance in key tasks of everyday living, and is defined in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.
It includes four levels of limitation associated with core activity tasks (self-care, mobility and communication) or restrictions in schooling and employment:
- Profound: the person is unable to do, or always needs help with, a core activity task
- Severe: the person:
- Sometimes needs help with a core activity task
- Has difficulty understanding or being understood by family or friends
- Can communicate more easily using sign language or other non-spoken forms of communication
- Moderate: the person needs no help, but has difficulty with a core activity task.
- Mild: the person needs no help and has no difficulty with any of the core activity tasks, but has difficulty with other activities (such as transport, mobility, household chores, reading and writing).
Domestic and Family Violence
Domestic and family violence, is violence between people who are or were in a domestic relationship, whether a family member, intimate partner or housemate.
The violence does not have to occur within the home. Domestic violence is about power and control and there are many ways perpetrators can exercise control. This includes fear, isolation, reproductive coercion and physical, sexual, financial, emotional, psychological, spiritual or cultural abuse.
Witnessing domestic and family violence can have a profound negative effect on children and young people.
Domestic Violence Line
The Domestic Violence Line is a state-wide free-call number and is available 24 hours, seven days a week. The Domestic Violence Line provides telephone counselling, information and referrals for people who are experiencing or have experienced domestic or family violence.
Trained female caseworkers are sensitive to the needs of people who have experienced domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Line makes referrals to women's refuges and as well as family support services, counselling, the police and courts, lawyers and hospitals. It helps with transport, emergency accommodation and other relevant support.
Elder abuse can be a single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action which causes harm or distress to an older person. It can occur in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust by the older person. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial or result from neglect.
The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline provides information, support and referrals relating to the abuse of older people living in the community across NSW. The service is free, confidential and callers remain anonymous. The Helpline was established as part of the NSW Ageing Strategy to help intervene and prevent incidences of elder abuse.
Engaged or participating in the Brighter Futures program
See Brighter Futures.
Enterprise Data Warehouse
When applying for a transfer to another property, social housing providers assess the urgency of a tenant’s need to move out of their current property or location. This assessment generally occurs: when considering an initial transfer application or if the tenant’s situation worsens after approval. If there is sufficient risk to the tenant or their household members, the tenant will be escalated and given priority status on the NSW Housing Register.
A face-to-face assessment is a child protection process involving a Safety, Risk and Risk Reassessment (SARA) or Secondary Assessment Stage 2 (SAS2) that results in decisions about actions that need to occur to protect the child or young person from abuse and neglect.
FACS Service Charter
The FACS Service Charter is a department-wide service commitment to FACS’ clients. The service charter outlines the service standards clients can expect to receive from FACS, and what FACS requires from clients to be able to provide the best possible service.
Funding Management System
The Funding management System (FMS) is an information technology system used for the funding management of non-government organisation disability sector service providers.
Foster care is a general term used informally to refer to the care of children or young people in out-of-home care by authorised, unrelated carers. Children are placed in a family setting, where the carer’s own children may also be living.
Foster carers can provide short or long-term care, including offering respite and crisis care. Foster carers are provided with ongoing support such as training, peer support and financial assistance. Some specialised services provide an intensive level of service for children and young people with high needs, significant disabilities, or large sibling groups.
Going Home Staying Home
The Going Home Staying Home reforms provide more prevention and early intervention support to avoid people becoming entrenched in a cycle of homelessness. The reforms also improve crisis responses and post-crisis support for homeless people.
Beginning in October 2014, a guardianship order refers to a guardian taking on full parental responsibility of the child or young person, making all decisions about their care until they reach 18 years of age.
- There is no real possibility of a child or young person returning to the care of their parents
- The prospective guardian will provide a safe, nurturing, stable and secure environment for the child or young person until at least 18 years
- Written consent is given by the child or young person if they are 12 years of age or older and capable of giving consent
- If the child or young person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, their permanent placement under a guardianship order follows the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Young Person Placement Principles.
A child or young person under a guardianship order is not considered to be in foster care or out-of-home care but in the independent care of their guardian.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines homelessness status as clients living in any of the following circumstances:
- No shelter or improvised dwelling: this includes where the dwelling type is no dwelling/street/park/in the open, motor vehicle, improvised building/dwelling, caravan, cabin, boat, tent; or the tenure type is renting or living rent-free in a caravan park
- Short-term temporary accommodation: the dwelling type is boarding/rooming house, emergency accommodation, hotel/motel/bed and breakfast; or the tenure type is renting or living rent-free in boarding/rooming house, renting or living rent-free in emergency accommodation or transitional housing
- House, townhouse or flat (couch surfing or with no tenure): tenure type is no tenure, where conditions of occupancy are living with relatives fee free, or couch surfing.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) classifies households as a person living alone or as a group of people who usually live in the same dwelling.
Households in Rental Arrears
Households in rental arrears refers to the number of households (as at 30 June) with a debt balance in their rent account.
Housing Operations Management and Extended Services (HOMES)
Housing Pathways is a streamlined way of managing applications for housing assistance in NSW.
Housing Pathways provides:
- coordinated information about housing assistance
- a standardised application and assessment
- a single waiting list known as the NSW Housing Register
- access to all social housing products and help to set up a private rental tenancy.
NSW Housing Register
The NSW Housing Register is a single list of approved clients waiting for social housing. It lists clients based on approval category, required housing location and approval date.
The register is used to offer housing when a suitable property becomes available. The time that a client will wait on the NSW housing register depends on:
- The number of available properties
- The supply of social housing in the area, including the number of social housing providers
- The numbers of people waiting for the same type of housing in the same area who have been waiting longer
- Willingness to accept offers of both public and community housing
- The number of applicants leaving the NSW Housing Register.
Independent Living Services
Independent living services prepare young people leaving statutory care to live independently by providing accommodation, case management and support services.
FACS works in partnership with relevant government service providers, such as the NSW Ministry of Health and the NSW Department of Education, to help young people gain timely access to the required services identified in the young person's leaving care plan.
Individualised funding is funding that is allocated to an individual (rather than to a program, place, support or service). This enables individuals to control what, how and when supports are provided.
Individualised funding arrangements comprise a high level support plan, a breakdown of estimated support costs and the approved funding amount.
Individualised services are services tailored to meet a person's disability support needs. Individualised services focus on enabling people with disability to exercise choice, flexibility and control over their support options.
Intensive Family Preservation (IFP)
Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) services aim to help children at imminent risk of entering out-of-home care remain safely with their families in a stable and nurturing environment.
IFP programs run for up to 12 months and provide high-intensity support during the first 12 weeks. Caseworkers have low caseloads to enable them to work intensively with families, and have access to a broad spectrum of support services, including funding for a variety of practical supports, counselling, and skills training to meet the needs of families and children.
Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS)
Intensive family support services aim to help children at imminent risk of entering out-of-home care remain safely with their families and to help children in out-of-home care safely return home.
A range of services are provided to meet the family’s needs and improve parental skills. The services are intensive, averaging at least four hours of service provision per week for a short-term period (usually less than six months) primarily in the home or community settings. Service delivery is coordinated and provided by non-government agencies.
Joint Investigation Response Team (JIRT)
Joint Investigation Response Teams (JIRTs) respond to serious child protection reports that may involve criminal offences. JIRTs are made up of NSW Police, NSW Health and FACS and operate throughout NSW.
By working together, JIRTs provide a coordinated and timely service that creates better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families.
Key Information and Directory System (KiDS)
Leaving Care and Aftercare Services
Leaving care and aftercare services refer to the case planning and support provided to young people leaving statutory out-of-home care (OOHC) aged 15 to 25 to help them successfully transition to independent living and adulthood.
This support may be provided by the same agency that supervised their OOHC placement or by an after care service provider. The Minister can provide after care assistance for a care leaver aged more than 25 under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
Leaving Care Plan
A leaving care plan is a plan that helps young people in out-of-home care live independently and be a part of their community when they turn 18 years old.
Each plan is developed with the young person and is based on their needs and aspirations. Plans include ways young people can be supported through leaving care and after care services and other services to meet their needs such as: health, education, housing and finances; relationships and contacts; identity and culture.
Life Choices and Active Ageing are FACS-funded day programs for people with disability who have moderate to high support needs. The programs:
- Enhance quality of life through skills development, adult education, community participation, recreation and leisure
- Provide greater flexibility, choice, and customisation for the needs of wishes of individuals
- Provide 18 hours of support per week.
Living Life My Way
The Living Life My Way framework has guided the expansion of individualised funding arrangements across NSW through Stronger Together 2 and Ready Together. The framework prepared people for the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Mandatory reporters are legally required to make a report to FACS if they suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm.
A person is a mandatory reporter if they deliver health care, welfare, education, children’s services, residential services or law enforcement to children, as part of their professional work.
Both who is a mandatory reporter and the conditions under which they must report is defined in section 27 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. Risk of significant harm is defined under section 23 of the Act. See also Child and Young Person Concern Report.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reform aims to support choice, decision-making and control for people with disability.
Under the NDIS, people with disability will receive funding rather pre-determined support packages. This enables individuals to choose and purchase the supports and services that are right for them.
The NDIS is an Australia-wide system that replaces state systems. It is being rolled out in stages. NSW became the first state to sign an agreement with the Commonwealth Government for the NDIS on 6 December 2012.
Out-of-home Care (OOHC)
Out-of-home care (OOHC) is defined in section 135 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (‘the Care Act’) as the care of a child or young person by a person other than their parent at a place other than their usual home.
Keeping families safely together is our priority. Where this is not possible:
- the permanent placement principles guide how we provide children or young people with a safe and stable home (section 10A, the Care Act)
- the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander placement principles guide how we preserve Aboriginal children and young peoples’ connection to culture, including extended family or kinship group, community and country (section 13, the Care Act).
Parental responsibility refers to all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to their children.
Parental responsibility to the Minister means that the responsibility for caring for a child or young person has been legally transferred to the Minister for FACS. This occurs when a child cannot be adequately cared for by their parents.
These terms are defined in the Children And Young Persons (Care And Protection) Act 1998.
This term refers to the type of placement in out-of-home care (OOHC). For administrative and reporting purposes, the following major categories are used to differentiate placements in OOHC:
- Foster care
- With parents (through re-unification processes or instances of self-restoration where the Minister has parental responsibility)
- Relative kinship care
- Non-related person
- Supported accommodation
- Residential care (may include group homes for those with challenging behaviour or high support needs, and Juvenile Justice centres)
- Independent living
In September 2015, the NSW Premier released Making it Happen, which outlined 30 State Priorities including 12 personal priorities of the Premier (known as Premier’s Priorities) that commit the government to improving outcomes to create a ‘stronger, healthier and safer NSW’. FACS is the lead agency responsible for several these priorities, including:
- Decreasing the percentage of children and young people re-reported at risk of significant harm by 15%
- Increasing the proportion of young people who successfully move from Specialist Homelessness Services to long-term accommodation by 10%
- Increasing the number of households successfully transitioning out of social housing by 5% over three years
- Successful implementation of the NDIS by 2018.
Prenatal reports refer to reports made about concerns that an unborn children may be at risk of significant harm after his or her birth.
Primary Reported Issue
The primary reported issue is the main reason cited for a concern about the safety, welfare or well-being of a child in reports to the Child Protection Helpline. See also Reported Issue and Child and Young Person Concern Report.
Priority Approved Housing Applicants
Priority housing aims to meet the urgent needs of applicants who require long-term assistance. To be eligible for priority housing, applicants must meet be:
- Eligible for social housing
- In urgent need (e.g. due to homelessness or risks to the safety or mental health of the applicant, children, other household members)
- Unable to rent in the private rental market without assistance from FACS.
Private Rental Assistance
Private rental assistance (PRA) refers to the range of options provided under Housing Pathways to assist eligible clients to secure a private rental property. It includes assistance provided through schemes such as Rentstart, Tenancy Facilitation, Tenancy Guarantee, Temporary Accommodation and the Private Rental Brokerage Service.
Private Rental Brokerage Service
The Private Rental Brokerage Service (PRBS) helps people with complex needs who have support arrangements in place to find and sustain accommodation in the private rental market. People who have physical or mental illnesses, drug or alcohol problems, physical or intellectual disabilities or other complex needs may be eligible.
The Private Rental Brokerage Service helps clients to: find private rental housing; overcome the barriers that prevent them from securing private rental housing; access a range of private rental products and services; sustain their tenancy; and actively participate in decisions and live independently.
Private Rental Subsidy
A private rental subsidy provides (PRS) eligible clients with medium-term accommodation until an offer of social housing can be made. To be eligible for a private rental subsidy a client must:
- Meet social housing eligibility criteria
- Be approved for priority status on the NSW Housing Register
- Have a recognised disability or medical condition
- Be able to demonstrate they are also ‘at risk of harm’ in their current housing which is not suitable for them to live in while they are waiting for social housing.
See also Start Safely, a Private Rental Subsidy for people escaping domestic or family violence.
See Social Housing.
Ready Together occurred throughout 2013-2016 and expanded access to individualised support and funding for people with disability to provide more flexibility, choice and control. In doing so, it prepared people for the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Ready Together continued the NSW Government’s Stronger Together 2 reforms and is part of the Living Life my Way framework.
Referral Pathway for Brighter Futures
Relative or Kinship Care
When children need to enter out-of-home care to ensure their safety, FACS aims to place children with relative or kin carers. This promotes healthy identity development and helps children maintain their links with their family, culture and community. Relative and kinship care are both defined in section 3 of the Children And Young Persons (Care And Protection) Act 1998.
Relative care can be provided by a parent, parent’s spouse, grandparents, brother, sister, step-brother, step-sister, cousin, niece, nephew, uncle or aunt (by blood or marriage) of the child or young person.
Kinship care is provided by a person who is not a relative of the child, but who shares cultural, tribal and community connection that is recognised by that child's community.
FACS aims to place Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people with relatives or kin. This is in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Young Person Placement Principle in section 13 of the Children And Young Persons (Care And Protection) Act 1998.
Rent arrears refer to money that is owed. When tenant misses payments and their account goes into arrears, FACS works together with the tenant to try to resolve the problem.
FACS also considers factors such as payment patterns, willingness to repay, reasons for missed payments, and the involvement of support services when deciding whether to negotiate a repayment arrangement, or take further action.
A rental subsidy refers to a reduction in rent. FACS many grant a rental subsidy to tenants with lower incomes in FACS-managed properties. The amount of subsidy is determined by market rent and household income.
The Rentstart scheme provides financial assistance for eligible clients to help them set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. There are multiple types of assistance available through Rentstart, including Bond Loan, Advance Rent and Tenancy Assistance.
A reported issue is a concern raised about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person when someone contacts the Child Protection Helpline.
When a report suggesting that a child is at risk of significant harm, caseworkers at the helpline record up to three issues associated with the risk of significant harm (e.g. neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, domestic and family violence, drug and alcohol use). See also Child and Young Person Concern Report.
A reporter is any person who conveys information to FACS concerning their reasonable grounds to suspect that a child, young person or unborn child (once born) is at risk of significant harm.
Residential care is a type of out-of-home care (OOHC) provided to a small proportion of children and young people who have challenging behaviours and medium to high support needs.
This FACS-funded level of care is provided for as long as needed. Such a placement aims to stabilise behaviour and address the complex needs of the child so they can move on to other care types, restoration or independent living.
Residential care units are small community-based residences for two to four children or young people, supported by rostered residential care staff.
Response priority refers to how urgently FACS must respond to a ROSH report based on the urgency of a case. The options are: less than 24 hours, less than 72 hours and within 10 days.
Restoration occurs when a child or young person returns to live in the care of their parents permanently.
Care plans are prepared to support the restoration process, and must include a permanency plan. The plan should include a description of the: minimum outcomes that must be achieved before it would be safe for the child to return, services that FACS or other agencies will provide to facilitate safe restoration and the time in which restoration should be pursued.
Risk of significant harm status refers to the outcome of the screening at the Child Protection Helpline.
Risk of significant harm (ROSH)
A child or young person is assessed as at ROSH if the circumstances that are causing concern for the safety, welfare or wellbeing of the child or young person are present to a significant extent. This means it is sufficiently serious to warrant a response by a statutory authority, irrespective of a family’s consent.
From 24 January 2010, reports to the Child Protection Helpline must meet the threshold of ‘risk of significant harm’. Where concerns of harm do not meet the significant harm threshold, the reporter should offer and coordinate assistance or make a referral to other services, using normal referral networks.
Forwarded for information/action
Reports that have been assessed as not requiring a child protection response are forwarded on to a local Community Services Centre (CSC)/Joint Investigative Response Team (JIRT) or Brighter Futures assessment unit for information or further action.
Some reports may involve ROSH matters but not require a child protection response. For example, they may contain previously reported information where a ROSH report has already been created or they may relate to an older event and the person causing harm no longer has access to the child.
No response required
This refers to reports that do not meet the ROSH threshold and are assessed as requiring no response at that point in time.
Safety Assessment, Risk Assessment and Risk Reassessment (SARA)
The Safety Assessment, Risk Assessment and Risk Reassessment (SARA) are three distinct tools used at FACS Community Services Centres by caseworkers:
- The safety assessment tool is used to determine whether there are any immediate dangers of significant harm to a child and what interventions should be put in place to provide immediate protection.
- The risk assessment tool is used to classify families into low, moderate, high and very high risk groups to determine the likelihood of future abuse or neglect of a child. This information is used to guide decisions about whether cases should be opened for ongoing services or not.
- The risk reassessment is used periodically to assess any changes to the family’s risk level in order to guide decisions about whether the case can be closed or if services should continue.
Screening and Response Priority Tools
Screening and response priority tools (SCRPT) are used at the Child Protection Helpline by caseworkers to determine whether a report meets the risk of significant harm threshold and if so, to determine how quickly FACS should respond to the report.
FACS uses the Structured Decision Making (SDM) system to assess reports. The SDM ensures consistency, accuracy and timeliness in decision making and utilises a number to tools to assist staff in making key decisions.
Secondary Assessment Stage 2
A secondary assessment stage 2 (SAS2) follows an initial assessment determining that a child or young person is at risk of harm and may be in need of care and protection.
A SAS2 involves a face-to-face visit from a caseworker who speaks to family members and gathers information to understand individual and family strengths as well as risk and protective factors. The SAS2 model supports caseworkers to make reliable judgements about safety, risk and harm and the probability of further risk or harm occurring if no further action is taken by FACS.
The Seniors Card is a free, discount card available to people aged over 60 who live permanently in NSW, and work no more than 20 hours a week.
NSW Seniors Card members are eligible for discounts and special offers from thousands of participating businesses in NSW and concession rates on government and private transport services. Some discounts are available in other states and territories. The Seniors Card is managed by Ageing, Disability and Home Care which is part of FACS.
Social housing is secure, affordable housing for people on low to moderate incomes and/or special needs. Social housing includes:
- Public housing which refers to rental housing owned and managed by FACS (including via the Land and Housing Corporation, Housing NSW, and the Aboriginal Housing Office).
- Community housing which refers to rental housing managed by non-government organisations. Properties may be owned by FACS, community housing providers or the private sector. Community housing providers often receive funding from FACS.
- Aboriginal housing which refers to rental housing geared towards the needs of Aboriginal people. Properties may be managed by the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) (which is part of FACS), community housing providers or Aboriginal community housing providers, which typically receive funding from the AHO.
A social housing provider is any agency that provides social housing. This involves assessing eligibility, placing clients on the NSW Housing Register and providing housing assistance. Providers include:
- FACS or other government agencies
- Community Housing Providers which are non-government organisations
- Aboriginal Community Housing Providers (ACHPs) which provide housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ACHPs are registered with the Aboriginal Housing Office, which is part of FACS.
Specialist Homelessness Services
Specialist homelessness services (SHS) provide accommodation and support to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including families in crisis, women and children affected by domestic violence, young people and single adults. It operates through a case management approach. Services provided include accommodation, general support (advice, advocacy, living skills, and court support), personal support for families and relationships, financial and employment support and basic support (meals, showers and transport).
Start Safely is a subsidy to provide short to medium term financial help to eligible clients who have experienced domestic or family violence so they can secure private rental accommodation and do not have to return to the violent situation.
Statutory Out-of-home Care
Statutory OOHC is defined in section 135A, the Care Act as OOHC provided:
- to a child or young person for a period of more than 14 days
- when parental responsibility has been allocated to the Minister by a Children’s Court order or because the child or young person is a protected person and
- only in a placement with an authorised carer (section 136, the Care Act).
It is DCJ policy that a child meeting the above criteria is only in statutory OOHC if parental responsibility for at least the aspect of residence is allocated to the Minister. These care arrangements are often referred to as ‘PRM’ (parental responsibility to the Minister) arrangements.
Staying Home Leaving Violence
The Staying Home Leaving Violence program aims to prevent homelessness by working with NSW Police to remove the perpetrator of domestic or family violence from the family home so that women and children can remain safely where they are.
The program places accountability firmly on the shoulders of the violent offender and ensures women and children are not driven to homelessness or uprooted from their families, friends and schools.
It also provides a range of support for victims such as safety planning, improving home security, assistance in managing finances, supports for children and assistance to help families with complicated legal processes.
Stronger Together and Stronger Together 2
Stronger Together: A new direction for disability services in NSW 2006-2016 was the ten year plan to provide greater assistance and long-term practical solutions for people with disability, their families and carers. It involved major reforms and service expansions to ensure a more sustainable disability system delivering the best outcomes for individuals and the community.
Stronger Together 2, which commenced in July 2011, was the second phase of the 10-year plan. It focused on enabling people with disability to determine how support resources are used. See also Ready Together.
Supported Family Group Home Care
Supported family group home care refers to medium to long term out-of-home care provided for a specific group of children or young people who have low to moderate support needs, including siblings and adolescents transitioning to independent living. It is provided in regular houses in the community in a family-like environment by carers who live in the home seven days a week.
Supported Independent Living Services
Supported independent living services are provided to young people with low to moderate support needs who are transitioning to independent living. The client group is young people aged 16 to 18 years in the parental responsibility of the Minister.
Supported Out-of-home Care
Supported OOHC is defined in section 135B, the Care Act as OOHC that the Secretary arranges, supports or provides:
- to a child or young person as a result of the Secretary forming the view that the child or young person is need of care and protection and
- in a placement with a relative or kin (section 153) or other suitable person (section 79(1)(f), the Care Act).
It is DCJ policy that a child meeting the above criteria is only in supported OOHC if parental responsibility for at least the aspect of residence is allocated to a person other than the Minister. These care arrangements are often referred to as ‘PRR’ (parental responsibility to a relative) arrangements.
Historically, a child or young person was able to enter supported OOHC without a court order. However the ‘Supported Care No Order (SCNO)’ pathway was closed as a result of:
- DCJ policy reforms as at 01 December 2016 and
- Care Act amendments that took effect on 04 February 2019.
These legislative and policy changes mean a child or young person may now only enter supported OOHC as the result of:
- an order of the Children’s Court or
- a parenting order made in a Commonwealth Court under the Family Law Act 1975 as the result of proceedings to which the Secretary was a party.
The provision of short term accommodation in hotels motels, caravan parks and other locations for homeless people.
Temporary Care Arrangements
Temporary care arrangements are a form of supported OOHC provided:
- to a child or young person involving a voluntary agreement between DCJ and the parent/guardian (sections 151 to 152),
- in a placement with an authorised carer (who may or may not be a relative/kin)
- with the aim of returning the child or young person to their parent’s care.
A temporary care arrangement is time limited and can occur for up to six months in a twelve month period.
Tenancy assistance is provided to clients living in a private rental property who are in water and/or rent arrears. Clients do not have to repay tenancy assistance. Tenancy assistance is one option that prevents people from becoming homeless.
Tenancy facilitation (TF) provides assistance for 3 months to help people understand how to successfully rent in the private market.
This includes how to search, inspect and apply for properties; check listings on the tenant database; pay deposits, bonds and advance rent; complete property condition reports; organise utility connections; and understanding tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
A tenancy guarantee (TG) pays for rental arrears or property damage costing up to $1500 more than the rental bond. The tenancy guarantee offer and possible payment is made by a social housing provider.
Tenancy guarantees encourage private landlords and real estate agents to rent properties to people who are having difficulties entering the private rental market.
Tenancy length is an estimate of the continuous period that the tenant has been in social housing.
Social housing tenants, including public housing tenants, may apply for a transfer to another property if their current property is no longer suitable for their needs. The social housing provider with whom the tenant is currently housed is responsible for assessing a tenant’s application for transfer. See also Escalated Transfer.
Transition to Work
Transition to work is a two year program that helps young people with disability gain employment after leaving school.
Types of Care
When a child or young person enters out-of-home care (OOHC), case planning decisions focus on achieving permanency and stability for the child or young person. Permanent placements for children in OOHC can be achieved by:
- Restoration to the care of the parent or caregiver
- Guardianship order
- Placement in relative or kinship care
- Long-term placement in foster care with an authorised carer.
OOHC placements may be short or long depending on needs and circumstances. The FACS Permanency Planning Policy is designed to achieve a permanent and stable home for every child. If this cannot be achieved with the child’s parents or caregivers, decisions about alternative long term placements must occur as early as possible.
Universal services are available and accessible to everyone in the community. These include primary health care, school and early childhood education, and other supports for parents and children.
FACS delivered universally available programs include Families NSW, Aboriginal Child Youth and Family Strategy, and Community Builders.
Voluntary Out-of-home Care
Voluntary OOHC is overnight care provided by an organisation, to a child or young person away from their usual home and with the consent of their family. In NSW voluntary out-of-home care is regulated by the Office of the Children's Guardian to support the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people using these services and to improve service coordination, planning and delivery. Organisations that provide or arrange voluntary out-of-home care must be registered by the Office of the Children's Guardian before arranging or providing care.
Voluntary out-of-home care covers care arrangements such as:
- overnight or short term accommodation in a group home or respite environment
- overnight stay with another family in a 'host family' arrangement
- longer-term residential care
- camps that focus on respite or behaviour support
- bail assistance
Care may be provided as a one-off emergency placement or may be used on a regular or long-term basis. These arrangements can be funded in several ways, including direct payment by families, the bail assistance program or individual funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).