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Permanency Case Management
- Transitional Arrangements
- Permanency Case Management
- Legal Issues
- Resolving conflict
- Other Roles and Responsibilities
- APPENDIX 1: Packaged Care Service Model
The Permanency Case Management Rules and Practice Guidance are to be read in conjunction with the Permanency Case Management Policy.
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, based on:
- the reported concerns and Helpline’s assessment of them and
- the availability of local resources and operational capacity of the local Community Service Centre (CSC) to respond.
Those children, their parents and family/kin with the highest priority are allocated to a FACS caseworker for a safety and risk assessment.
If a child is not allocated for a safety and risk assessment, FACS may refer the child, their parents or family/kin to other services or provide help to family/kin, as outlined under sections 20-22 or 113 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (the Care Act).
Safety and Risk Assessment (SARA)
- FACS visits a child, their parents and family/kin to carry out a safety and risk assessment (SARA).
- A safety assessment is completed within 2 days of the visit.
- A risk assessment is completed within 30 days after the safety assessment.
- 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.
What is SARA?
SARA is 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 may move a child to live with another person (in a place other than their usual home). This may be with a relative of the child, or an authorised carer:
- by agreement between FACS and a child’s parents and family/kin, as outlined under section 151 of the Care Act (this is called a ‘temporary care agreement’) or
- when FACS removes a child from their home under section 43 or 233; or assume a child from another place under section 44 of the Care Act.
FACS may review the initial safety assessment, if new information is received (non-ROSH) that would change the initial safety decision.
FACS will complete a closing safety assessment if a safety plan is put in place.
- 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’s 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.
When conducting SARA, FACS and a service provider with case management responsibility have important complementary roles:
- FACS has statutory responsibility for SARA as outlined under section 30 of the Care Act.
- FACS consults with the service provider with case management responsibility during SARA, or when case management responsibility is to be transferred to a service provider in future.
- The service provider may participate in and assist FACS in SARA, for example assisting FACS with a home visit or talking with the parents or family/kin about the ROSH report. Participation is not routine and is only if:
- FACS and the service provider agree that it will be beneficial to the child, their parents and family/kin, and/or
- the child, parents or family/kin request or express interest in this.
- The service provider with case management responsibility:
Permanency Case Planning
- FACS begins permanency case planning after a SARA is completed, but may begin whenever a child has been placed with another person (in a place other than their usual home).
- FACS develops a case plan for child, their parents and family/kin:
- 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.
- within 30 days of entering care of the Secretary of FACS or statutory OOHC.
- A case plan identifies a case plan goal along the continuum of care, to address the child’s safety and permanency needs (or change an existing goal). It describes objectives and tasks to help parents, family/kin and carers (if applicable) to achieve the child’s case plan goal.
What is permanency case planning?
These rules and practice guidance do not attempt to re-define case planning, rather they explore what is meant by case planning with a focus on permanency.
Permanency case planning aims to put in place safe and permanent 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.
It is a process used by casework practitioners to partner with a child, their parents, family/kin and carers to develop a case plan that that sets out:
- actions required of parents, family/kin and carers to bring about meaningful change and
- the permanency support services or other services that will be provided to help them achieve the child’s case plan goal.
Informed permanency case planning has a strong focus on gathering and sharing information relevant to the case planning process:
- conversations with a child, their parents, family/kin and carers, and other people significant to them
- the history of reports made and all types of assessments conducted by FACS, service providers and external practitioners including safety, risk and risk re-assessments and parenting capacity assessments
- health, education, disability (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and other records about a child’s development
- discussion between casework and other practitioners and
- consultation with legal officers, casework specialists, psychologists and any other relevant specialist.
In developing the case plan, casework practitioners use professional judgement and make decisions supported by evidence-based service models including:
- Family Group Conferencing with a child (where age and developmentally appropriate), their parents, family/kin, carers, service providers and other people significant to them
- Family Finding to explore and build a child’s lifelong support network
- purposeful supervision between leaders, supervisors and casework practitioners including group supervision that supports child-centred decision making.
Permanency case planning has a strong focus on helping parents, family/kin and carers make meaningful change to meet a child’s safety needs.
In developing the case plan, casework practitioners build on learning from the SARA assessment and make sure the case plan includes objectives and tasks that identify:
- how parental behaviour impacts on the child (worries, concerns and risks) and the willingness and capacity of parents to make meaningful change
- what actions need to occur for the child to be (and feel) safe and who in a child’s support network can be involved in keeping the child safe
- who will take the actions (and by when), the expectations of parents, family/kin and the role of carers
- the skills parents, family/kin and carers need to help them to safely care for their child and
- what permanency support services, professional support and material assistance is to be provided.
Permanency case planning has a strong focus on helping parents and family/kin meet their child’s permanency needs.
In developing the case plan, casework practitioners:
- follow permanent placement principles under section 10A of the Care Act and
- identify a case plan goal along the continuum of care, that will provide permanent arrangements for the child’s care while growing up:
- for most children (over time), this will be family preservation, restoration, guardianship or open adoption and
- for a small number of children (over time), this will be foster or residential care (in the parental responsibility of the Minister) when preservation, restoration, guardianship or adoption are not possible.
Casework practitioners ensure the case plan includes objectives and tasks using the SMART framework:
- Specific – we identify objectives and tasks most likely to provide a child with a permanent home
- Measurable and motivational – we review objectives and tasks to make sure we are making progress in achieving the case plan goal and acknowledging the parents and family/kin’ successes
- Achievable – the objectives or tasks have to be achievable for the child, their parents, family/kin and carers
- Resourced and relevant – objectives or tasks are easier to achieve if they are seen as relevant and important and resources are made available to help them
- Time bound – objectives and tasks achieved within a set period of time allow a child to focus on the developmental, educational and social challenges of growing up.
Permanency case planning has a strong focus on recovering from trauma.
In developing the case plan, casework practitioners have conversations with the child, their parents, family/kin and carers about the impact of trauma. They make sure the case plan includes objectives and tasks that will:
- help the child to recover from physical, psychological or emotional harm caused by the trauma they have experienced
- help parents and family/kin identify what they can do to recover from the impact of trauma they have experienced and
- supports parents, family/kin and carers to develop skills, access services and build a support network to help their child recover from trauma.
Permanency case planning has a strong focus on family strengths and resilience.
In developing the case plan, casework practitioners partner with the child, their parents, family/kin and carers to:
- recognise and build on the strengths of the child, their parents and family
- explore things they have done in the past that have helped improve their safety
- explore the parents and family’s needs and goals for family relationships, physical and psychological health, community support and connections with community
- help the parents and family/kin to identify, manage and reduce individual factors that cause vulnerability
- explore things that worry the child, parents or family/kin about partnering with FACS, or the service provider, such as experiences they may have had with services in the past
- advocate for the parents and family/kin in overcoming other barriers that cause vulnerability such as having enough income, having adequate housing, being able to access treatment services
- strengthen the parents’ readiness to make the changes needed to safely parent their child; to seek help, to build their self esteem and improve communication skills.
Permanency case planning always involves participation by a child, their parents, family/kin and carers. This upholds the child’s rights, which are set out under sections 9-10 of the Care Act, and section 12 in relation to Aboriginal children.
In permanency case planning, FACS and the service provider have important complementary roles:
- FACS sets the child’s case plan goal as:
- commissioner (purchaser or provider) of the service
- agency with statutory responsibility for responding to risk of significant harm and exercising parental responsibility for children in OOHC.
This includes any decision to initiate adoption action (non Aboriginal children only), except where an external service provider is delegated parental responsibility (PR) – see Functions of Parent Responsibility exercised by FACS.
- A service provider with case management responsibility participates in permanency case planning, or when case management responsibility is to be transferred in future.
Carefully changing the care arrangements for a child in OOHC and their siblings can help them re-connect or strengthen their existing relationships. When a child has a sense of being connected with their siblings:
- this can improve the child’s wellbeing and
- evidence shows it increases the likelihood of some permanency outcomes, for example successful restoration.
In developing a case plan for a child, FACS considers the impact upon the child’s relationship and connectedness with their sibling/s where:
- the child is in OOHC but their siblings are not
- the child is in one placement and their siblings are in other placement/s
- the child and their siblings’ placements are case managed by different service providers and/or
- the child’s case plan goal is different to the case plan goals of their siblings.
In any of these circumstances, the child’s case plan explains what is to be done to connect the child with their siblings for life. The case plan sets out tasks, responsibilities and timeframes to:
- bring the child and their siblings into fewer OOHC placements and under the case management of one service provider.
- cause the child and their siblings (in most circumstances) 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.
- ensure contact arrangements enhance and strengthen the relationship between the child and their siblings.
Permanency Support Services
- FACS prioritises and make decisions about which children, their parents and families/kin will receive a permanency support service based on:
- the outcome of the SARA, any risk re-assessment
- goals, objectives and tasks identified through permanency case planning and
- any other relevant factors.
- FACS commissions (provides or purchases) permanency support services to support achievement of the child, young person’s case plan.
- FACS transfers case management responsibility to:
- A FACS internal service or
- an external service provider (services purchased by FACS).
Note: in some circumstances, case management may have transferred to a service provider at an earlier stage, for example if a child has already been placed in OOHC with a service provider.
- The service provider provides or coordinates the provision of permanency support services as part of a case plan that help parents, family/kin and carers achieve the child’s case plan goal.
- FACS and the service provider closely monitor progress toward achieving the child’s case plan goal.
What are permanency support services?
Permanency support services are targeted services that include:
- Family preservation services are casework services that enable a vulnerable child to live safely at home, and to help their parents become more confident, connected to their community and able to safely support their child’s development and wellbeing.
- Restoration services are casework services that help parents, family/kin, carers and other significant people create the changes needed to enable safe restoration of a child to the care of their parents.
- Guardianship services engage the child, their parents, family/kin, prospective guardians and other people significant to them in exploring guardianship as an option and assess the suitability of a proposed guardian.
The aim of guardianship is to transfer full PR (by court order) for a child, to a relative/kin carer (who becomes a guardian). The guardian makes all decisions about the child in their care, until they reach 18 years of age.
- Open adoption services engage the child, their parents, family/kin, prospective adoptive parents and other people significant to them in exploring adoption as an option and assess the suitability of the proposed adoptive parent. This involves a specialist adoption caseworker and an adoption assessor to review the OOHC placement and meet strict legal requirements.
The aim of adoption is to permanently transfer the legal rights and responsibilities of being a parent (by Supreme Court order) to adoptive parents, while also supporting a child to remain connected to their birth family/kin and cultural heritage.
- OOHC services aim to support the achievement of restoration, guardianship or open adoption for most children in OOHC and reduce instability and uncertainty arising through multiple placements or temporary care arrangements.
For a small number of children, OOHC services meet their needs for stability and security through provision of:
- high quality, trauma informed foster care or
- residential care that support their transition to less intensive permanency outcomes.
When case management of a child, their parents and family/kin transfers to a service provider, responsibility for day to day contact with the child, their parents and family/kin rests with the service provider which provides permanency support services and helps them achieve the child’s case plan goal.
After transfer of case management responsibility, FACS continues to have an important role to complement provision of services.
FACS district Commissioning and Planning (C&P) works to improve service system capacity and capability to provide children, their parents and families/kin with quality services. They collect data in relation to the performance of the Packaged Care Service Model 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.
Contract Managers work closely with service providers to implement contractual arrangements and develop their capacity to deliver permanency support services to children, their parents and families/kin.
Permanency Coordinators have extensive knowledge about services provided locally in the service system. They act as a link between FACS and service providers, providing advice about service packages to achieve the permanency case plan goal. Permanency coordinators are not assessors or decision-makers and do not provide specialist practice advice. They are Permanency Support Program experts and will provide advice and support to all stakeholders under the program. They will oversight the minimum review periods under the Permanency Support program between FACS and service providers.
Child and Family District Unit (CFDU) in each FACS district acts as the key interface between external service providers and FACS in relation to children by:
- coordinating referrals to external service providers to provide services for children, their parents, family/kin and carers
- supporting external service providers to administer case management
- exercising of the powers and functions of PR (if the child is in OOHC).
CFDUs provide advice to external service providers regarding:
- 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 external 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 (including Contract Managers), Permanency Coordinators and local CSC casework teams when contacted by service providers about:
- providing information and data in relation to the achievement of case plan goals
- proposals to change a case plan goal
- notifying intention to cease case management and
- case management transfer.
FACS CSC casework teams work collaboratively with service providers when:
Services for a child their parent and family/kin may be provided by a FACS internal service or purchased from an external service provider.
1. Services provided by FACS internal services
FACS provides a range services through FACS Community Services Centres (CSCs) and Districts. Transfer of case management responsibility to these services occurs through existing FACS referral pathways and program guidelines.
Family preservation services provided by local FACS child protection and specialist teams including Child Protection Adolescent Teams (CPAT) use evidence based models including:
- Family Action Planning (FAP) for change
- Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) and Intensive Family Based Service (IFBS).
Preservation, restoration, guardianship, adoption and OOHC services are provided by local FACS OOHC and specialist teams including Intensive Support Services (ISS).
2. Services provided by existing service providers
FACS can purchase (not provide) a service from external service providers.
Family preservation and restoration services provided by external service providers in many districts use evidence based models including:
- Intensive Family Preservation (IFP) and Intensive Family Based Service (IFBS)
- Brighter Futures and Youth Hope
- Multi-systemic Therapy (MST-CAN) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT-CW).
Preservation, restoration, guardianship, adoption and OOHC services are increasingly purchased from external service providers.
Transfer of case management responsibility occurs through existing referral pathways during transition.
3. Permanency support services provided by service providers
Services are purchased using tailored service packages under the Packaged Care Service Model.
Tailoring services packages involves liaison between:
- FACS casework practitioner/s in local CSC casework teams that develop the child’s case plan
- the Permanency Coordinator, who helps the casework practitioners tailor service packages to achieve a child’s case plan goal
- the Contract Manager who puts in place the necessary contractual arrangements with the external service provider to purchase permanency support services
- CFDUs, who are the key interface between FACS and external service providers.
1. Transfer between FACS and service provider
Transfer of case management responsibility from FACS to a service provider is taken to have occurred on the date:
- when non-OOHC services commenced (such as family preservation) or
- when a child commences an OOHC placement with a service provider.
In all other cases, case management transfer to a service provider occurs when:
- a case plan has been developed by FACS with the involvement of the child and their family and the receiving service provider, to help parents, family/kin and carers (if applicable), achieve the case plan goal and
- a case transfer meeting has occurred at which there has been agreement for the case transfer to occur as at a specific transfer date.
2. Transfer between funded service providers
Sometimes case management responsibility may transfer between external service providers. For example where the carers (of a child in OOHC) move to a geographic area requiring transfer of case management responsibility to a external service provider operating in the new area.
All transfers between external service providers involve a change in contractual arrangements between FACS and the service provider/s and therefore require approval by FACS through the local Child and Family District Unit (CFDU).
After case management transfer, FACS may:
- review the initial safety assessment, if new (non-ROSH) information is received about the child, their parents and family/kin changes the initial safety decision
- complete a closing safety assessment where a safety plan needs to be finalised
- conduct a risk re-assessment if the initial risk assessment indicates a child remains at high or very high risk of experiencing abuse or neglect in future.
In these circumstances, FACS and the service provider both have important complementary roles:
- FACS is responsible for conducting a review of the safety assessment or risk re-assessment (except where an external service provider is licenced to do so).
FACS liaises with the service provider and seeks direct contact with a child, their parents and family/kin in order to continually assess risk. FACS informs the service provider when contact is planned, or if that is not possible, immediately after it has occurred.
- A service provider with case management responsibility
- continues to provide services including convening case plan reviews as required
- shares all information that would reasonably affect FACS assessment and respond to FACS requests for information exchange.
FACS has statutory responsibility for assessing safety and risk in relation to a child, as outlined under section 30 of the Care Act.
ROSH reports about a child in the parent’s home
After case management responsibility has transferred to a service provider, FACS may conduct a new SARA assessment if:
- a new ROSH report is received about the child and
- the report concerns the child in the parents home or another home (excluding children in OOHC – see below).
In these circumstances, FACS and the service provider both have important complementary roles - see safety and risk assessment.
ROSH reports about a child in OOHC
After case management responsibility for a child in OOHC has transferred to an external service provider, FACS may conduct a risk of harm assessment (this is different to a safety and risk assessment) if:
- a new ROSH report is received about the child that does not raise allegations about the conduct of an authorised carer
- the report concerns the child in an authorised carer’s home.
In these circumstances, FACS and the external service provider both have important complementary roles:
- FACS is the statutory agency with responsibility for conducting the risk of harm assessment.
- FACS liaises with the service provider and seeks direct contact with the child, their parents and family/kin in order to conduct the assessment. FACS informs a service provider when contact with the child or their carer is planned, or if that is not possible, immediately after it has occurred.
- The external service provider:
- continues to provide services, including convening case plan reviews as required
- share all information that would reasonably affect FACS assessment and respond to FACS requests for information exchange.
A new ROSH report about a child in OOHC may coincide with allegations of reportable or criminal conduct by an authorised carer that is an employee of an external service provider.
In these circumstances, FACS and the external service provider both have important complementary roles:
- FACS is the statutory agency with responsibility for conducting the risk of harm assessment.
- The external service provider is responsible for assessing reportable or criminal conduct of their employees, including the conduct of authorised carers.
FACS and the external service provider coordinate their activities to ensure that a child and their carers are not unnecessarily interviewed separately by each agency. Each agency shares information throughout the assessment that relates to the safety or risk of the child, or their ongoing care. At a minimum each agency:
- informs the other that an assessment is about to commence and
- make reasonable efforts to exchange information with the other about the assessment and outcome as soon as possible during the assessment.
If FACS and the external service provider agree to carry out assessments jointly:
- FACS arranges a pre-assessment consultation (PAC) to consider:
- information/issues identified in the child protection history for a child including any pattern of allegations
- historic and current information about the carer and the carers home, including their care of other children
- important people in the child’s support network and other agencies involved (for example, health or education agencies)
- conversations with the child, parents, family/kin and carers and actions to be taken by each agency separately or jointly and
- any worker safety issues.
- after visiting the child and carers, FACS arranges an assessment consultation (AC) to consider:
- immediate safety issues and how risks are to be addressed by the external service provider with case management
- actions taken and yet to be taken; which agency will take future actions, and a timeframe for actions
- information exchange between agencies requests to other agencies
- an analysis of the broad issues under assessment in the context of new information obtained and
- how and who provides information to the child’s parents and make them aware of the assessment and what actions will occur as a result.
- At the conclusion of the assessment, FACS provides the external service provider with a copy of its risk of harm assessment, and the service provider provides FACS with a copy of its reportable conduct assessment (within 7 business days).
- At the conclusion of the assessment, the FACS CSC that completed the assessment liaises with the FACS CFDU to ensure they are aware of the outcome of the assessment.
Permanency support services for a child in OOHC are provided to strengthen and enhance a child’s relationship and connectedness with their parents, siblings and family/kin.
The service provider and authorised carers all have important complementary roles in relation to contact between a child in OOHC and their family:
- A service provider helps a carer to support a child to maintain contact with parents, family/kin. This includes involving them in planning family visits 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 visits
- keeping a record of and providing information about their experiences in care
- taking the child to and from family visits
- supporting planned and flexible arrangements for family visits
- supervising or participating in family visits 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.
At regular case plan review meeting, the parents, families/kin and carers’ (if applicable) progress toward achieving the child’s case plan goal is reviewed:
- review timeframes are clarified during the development of the case plan as timeframes differ across case plan goals, service packages and program guidelines (some review timeframes are included in Table 1)
- monitoring of the case plan goal occurs through regular case plan review
- information and data regarding progress toward achievement of case plan goals is provided to FACS through district reporting procedures.
At regular case plan review meetings, or at any time between meetings, there may be a proposal that the case plan goal be changed if there has been a significant change in relevant circumstances for the child, their parents and family/kin such that another case plan goal would be more appropriate.
In these circumstances:
- the service provider notifies FACS of the proposal to change
- FACS and the service provider jointly consider the proposed change
- the decision to change or discontinue the case plan goal is made by FACS as:
- the commissioner of the permanency support service (whether or not the child or is in OOHC) and
- agency with statutory responsibility for responding to ROSH and exercising parental responsibility for children in OOHC.
A service provider ceases to have responsibility for case management of a child, their parents and family/kin when:
- FACS and the 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 responsibility order and
- where assessed risk of abuse or neglect remains low or medium as a result of the (completed) provision of permanency support services.
- FACS and the 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 supervision order or shorter term care order (STCO) and
- upon making of a guardianship or adoption order.
- FACS and the service provider agree the child’s case plan goal of foster care (in the parental responsibility of the Minister) has been achieved:
- at the expiry of the care order and
- at the point at which the child ages out of OOHC and
- when the service provider has met its obligations (if applicable) to provide after-care services to the young person.
- FACS and the service provider agree services are to cease due to other reasons, for example when the case plan goal is changed.