Providing support to foster carers should be part of an ongoing process, through regular visits with the foster carer and de-briefing. The foster carer review meeting is an additional annual event, with information gathered from visits or other contact with the foster carer throughout the year contributing to the review process.
The foster carer review meeting should be a three-way process between the foster carer, senior child protection worker placement services (SCPWPS) or child protection worker (CPW) (where applicable) and the child.
Information on the review of family or significant other carers can be found in Chapter 3.1: Family or significant other care.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).
Recording a Foster or Family Carer as Inactive Flowchart
A Working with Children (WWC) Check is required for foster carers and any other person living in the family home. If the foster carer has a spouse or de-facto partner residing in the home, they must be screened and assessed as a carer, and must obtain a WWC Card.
If you are aware that the foster carer has a spouse or de-facto partner who has moved into the home, the spouse or de-facto partner must be screened and assessed as a carer, and obtain a WWC Card. Further information can be found in the ‘Reassessment of a foster carer’ section below.
Any new adults that have moved into the foster carer’s home must complete Form 395 - Record Check Consent (in related resources). Exceptional circumstances apply for adult household members with disability or who are unable to help care for the child.
Under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WWC Act), any person whose usual duties of work involves, or is likely to involve contact with a child in a care arrangement under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) must have a WWC Check. All household members are required to apply and maintain their WWC Card. Refer to Chapter 3.1 Working with children card - application and renewal requirements for carers for fruther information.
At a minimum, foster carer review meetings must be completed at least once every 12 months.
To assist forward planning and to complete reviews within the required timeframe, districts must implement a rolling 11 month planning cycle. This cycle is designed to support a sustainable and systematic approach to carer reviews.
To help with management and tracking of the foster carer review process, refer to the document 11 Month Care Planning Guide in related resources and Chapter 3.1 Care Planning.
Teamwork and support of the foster carer and their family are essential in maintaining the care arrangement, as is the participation of the child. You need to support the foster carer to participate formally as a team member and engage in the assessment, planning and review processes for the care arrangement. Encourage the carer to engage in decision-making with the child in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate.
Carers should also participate in cultural support planning for Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse children. They should be aware of the child's cultural needs, and be involved in developing strategies to maintain and strengthen the child's links to family, community, identity and country. Where the the carers are members of the child's family, they need to ensure that the child maintains a cultural identification with both sides of the family, if they come from different cultural groups.
The foster carer review process provides an opportunity for the foster carer and their family to give feedback on what providing care has been like for them:
Learning, development and support needs may also be identified and outlined in a Carer Support Plan in related resources. For more information refer to the section 'Ongoing competency building' in chapter 3.1 Family and significant other care.
You should be actively seeking the views and wishes of the child via processes such as Viewpoint, quarterly care visits, Words and Pictures and care planning meetings. Annual carer reviews are another opportunity to obtain feedback from the child, specifically in relation to their current views and wishes about their care arrangement.
All children in the CEO's care must be given the opportunity to express their wishes and views freely, according the child's abilities. You must assist the child to overcome any barriers they may have in communicating their wishes and views, such as providing a translator and by using accessible language.
The child must be spoken to away from their carer. You must allow the child to give their honest opinions about how they are feeling in their care arrangement, at least during each quarterly care reporting period.
If the child raises concerns about their safety in the care arrangement, you must take this information seriously and consult with your team leader. This concern must be assessed, and the child included in any subsequent safety planning and decision-making, according to their ability.
Before the review meeting date discuss the format of the meeting with the foster carer. It is important to review the carer’s file, case file notes including any practical or safety concerns that have already been identified, previous Carer Support Plans and other records for each care arrangement.
You should inform the foster carer about the information gathered and use this as a basis for initiating conversations and decision-making during the review meeting.
The SCPWPS and CPW should work together and consult with the team leader in relation to any previously identified or potential issues.
In preparation for the review meeting, refer to the related resources:
Most foster carer review meetings will take about one hour. The meeting should be at a time convenient for the foster carer and cause minimum disruption to their daily routine. Ideally, the meeting should be at the foster carer’s home and involve all relevant members of the household, including the child in the CEO's care.
Where this is not possible, the meeting can be in a private room at the district office for confidentiality. The atmosphere should be as informal as possible.
You should contact the foster carer to confirm the day and time that the review meeting will be conducted, including the location.
If you become aware that a child in the CEO's care is being charged rent or board by their carer, or that the carer is attempting to charge them rent or board, seek advice from Legal and Business Services.
The provision of financial assistance to a carer to meet a child in the CEO's care needs must be funded by the Department and not the child.
The review meeting should be a discussion of what is working well, what the Department and the foster carer might be worried about, and what needs to happen to address any of the concerns raised. Some of these concerns may be addressed as part of the carer's Carer Support Plan.
This meeting is an opportunity for you and the carer to take stock, look ahead and to develop the care team partnership in an open learning environment. Most importantly, this is the carer’s time to reflect and have the space to raise questions and discuss any concerns and also highlight their achievements.
The meeting may include identifying changes that the foster carer may wish to make and noting these in their Carer Support Plan, for example, attending a training course or learning about a specific area of child development. It may also include identifying changes for our workers in the care team, such as how they are meeting their responsibilities under the Care Team Approach Practice Framework (in related resources).
Discuss the criteria (known as competencies) outlined in r.4 of the Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 with the carer using the prompts outlined in the Form 565 - Carer Review.
Use Form 565 - Carer Review in related resources to provide a summary of the discussion with the foster carer.
Outcomes and actions of the meeting should be linked to the Carer Support Plans for consideration.
The review meeting formally affirms that the foster carer is maintaining their competencies as a carer but it is not a reassessment. If you have concerns about the carer's capacity to meet the competencies address them as they arise. Refer to Chapter 3.1 Revocation of a carer's approval (foster, family or significant other) for further information.
Form 565 - Carer Review must be:
Signed by the foster carer, CPW, SCPWPS, Aboriginal practice leader (as applicable) and the relevant team leader.
Forwarded to the assistant district director or district director once signed for their approval and signature.
Forwarded to the foster carer once approved.
Discussed with the child, according to their ability.
Scanned and placed on the foster carer’s file in Objective (original copy).
Record relevant details must in the 'Approve and Manage Carer' component in Assist. Refer to Assist User Guide – Review and Annual Review of a Carer Registration in related resources.
Reassessment of a foster carer may be undertaken when:
There have been repeated unresolved Standard of Care Concerns in relation to the foster carer, but these concerns do not meet the threshold for a Duty of Care Notification (Allegation of Abuse in Care).
The Standard of Care Concerns are serious and in consultation with the team leader, a decision has been made to submit a Duty of Care Notification.
Several less serious Standard of Care Concerns arise.
There is a change in the foster carer’s primary relationship, for example, a new partner, separation from a partner or death of a partner.
The foster carer’s situation has changed significantly, and this impacts on their ability to provide safe and appropriate care. This may include the death of a family member or close friend.
The foster carer returns to caring after being unavailable for over 12 months.
The extent of the reassessment is determined by the situation that led to it being required.
The district managing the foster carer is responsible for the reassessment. The assessment must determine whether the foster carer continues to meet all the competencies, and the district director must approve this.
A carer may choose to withdraw their services for a range of personal and family reasons. A withdrawal must be voluntary and should be in writing from the carer. A carer's approval cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by the Department.
If the Department is no longer satisfied that the carer meets the competencies (or other reasons for revocation exist), the formal revocation process should occur unless the foster carer asks and we agree to their withdrawal.
You must record withdrawals in Assist and, wherever possible, arrange and complete an exit interview with the carer. If an agreed withdrawal occurs after the revocation process has commenced, it may be appropriate to record an alert in Assist.
If a person has withdrawn from being a foster carer and the Department is seeking to place a child in the CEO's care with them, they cannot be reassessed.
The person must be assessed according to the foster carer assessment process, refer to Chapter 3.1 Foster care application and assessment for further information.
If a family or foster carer continues to meet the competencies but has not chosen to voluntarily withdraw as a carer and has not provided a care arrangement for a child in the CEO's care for over 12 months, the Department can record them as 'inactive', to enable better identification of which carers are currently available.
Recording a carer as 'inactive' also recognises that because they are not currently looking after a child, the carer is not required to have up-to-date record checks unless they decide to begin providing care for a child again. Refer to the 'Recording a Foster or Family Carer as Inactive' flowchart in related resources.
If a person requests to become an active carer again, they must undergo a foster carer reassessment.
All workers involved in addressing issues of concern with a foster carer must record the following:
When the Department proposes to revoke a foster carer’s approval based on a concern, it relies on these records. For further information, refer to Chapter 3.1 Revocation of a carer's approval (foster, family or significant other).
If a foster carer plans to take a break or cease fostering they should, wherever possible, be given the opportunity to complete an exit interview.
The exit interview provides an opportunity for the foster carer to discuss their experience as a carer, identify what worked well and advise us of their reasons for ceasing fostering.
You must record when a foster carer chooses to cease fostering in Assist. Refer to the Assist User Guides – Withdraw a Carer’s Approval in related resources.