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3.4.19 Care Arrangement Referral

Last Modified: 02-May-2022 Review Date: 01-Apr-2018

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


Interim or long-term out-of-home care arrangement options are available for children in the CEO's care who cannot reside safely with their parents.

The type of care arrangement for a child should be in accordance with their best interests and matched according to their needs as recorded in the Needs Assessment Tool (NAT). Children who require complex support may need a specialist care arrangement. Care arrangements must plan to keep the child safely connected to their family, networks, community, traditions and culture.

The Care Arrangement Referral (CAR) is a critical planning and service delivery document that should be completed accurately on Assist for all children in the CEO's care. It is used as both a referral form to match the care arrangement to the child's needs, and as information to be provided to carers so they can ensure the child's needs are being met.

The principles in sections 9, 9(ga) and ((gb) must be observed when planning for the care of a child who is in the care of the CEO, including when planning for a care arrangement for the child.

The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and CaLD Placement Guidelines must always be applied when making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal child or a child from a culturally and linguistically diverse background (CaLD). 

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department). Throughout this entry, the term 'child' is referred to as inclusive of both children and young people.  The term "placement arrangement" is used in the Children and Community Services Act 2004 to refer to an arrangement made under s. 79(2) for the placement of a child.  This is usually referred to as a "care arrangement" in practice, with the same meaning. 

Process Maps
  1. ​Care Arrangement Referral Flowchart
  2. Care Arrangement Referral Process

Information and Instructions

  • Completing the Care Arrangement Referral
  • Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub
  • Care arrangement transition meetings
  • When a child enters a care arrangement
  • Completing the Care Arrangement Referral

    The supporting evidence and text recorded in the nine dimensions of care in the Child Information Portal (CIP) populate in the CAR as editable text. Care Arrangement Referrals can be automatically re-populated from the CIP at any time, or the previous published CAR can be used as the basis for the new document. For more information see the Care Arrangement Referral Assist User Guide (related resources).

    Complete the rest of the CAR with any additional information that is relevant to the care arrangement matching process and day-to-day care of the child. You should ensure the information contained in the CAR does not include restricted information including notifier details. You should include a summary of any safety plans or other safety considerations.

    To inform the CAR, use information gained from:

    • the child 
    • the child's family
    • the child's care team
    • other people who have knowledge about the child, and any relevant written information that is held by the Department, such as their cultural support plan, and 
    • documents from other agencies, such as school reports, documented education plans and health or medical reports.

    In addition to consultation with an Aboriginal Practice Leader, consults should also be held with specialist staff within the Department – e.g., district psychologist, CaLD consultant, education officers – about the child's care arrangements needs.

    Relevant information for the carer includes the child's day to day care needs, strengths, likes and dislikes, fears, level of mobility and routines.  This information should support the content already auto populated from the NAT, for example, about how the child's needs have been managed in the past. For children moving from one care arrangement to another, the CAR should include information from the previous carer/s, the child's care team and the Community Sector Organisation (CSO) agency where appropriate.

    If important information about the child's health or safety needs is not available at the time of the care arrangement, provide it to the child's carer as soon as possible after the care arrangement is made.

    You should record professional contacts, including the Case Manager, Team Leader, District Psychologist, Education Officer, and CaLD consultant, and/or Aboriginal Practice Leader (where appropriate). Identify the type of care arrangement sought and whether a referral will be made to the Child and Carer Connection Hub (the Hub).

    If a care arrangement with family or other significant carers is available and an assessment is required,  refer to Chapter 3.1 – Family or Significant Other Care and Interim Placement Arrangements for the assessment and approval process.


    Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub

    When a district-based care arrangement is not available, the CAR should be endorsed and/or approved on Assist before sending to the Hub.

    The Hub is responsible for the whole-of-system matching of children with the most appropriate care arrangement according to the child's individual and long-term needs, where a district-based care arrangement is not available.

    The Hub facilitates and manages requests for care arrangements outside a child's district and liaises with other districts and CSOs.  It is also responsible for managing the foster carer directory, mentor programs, family group homes, specialised fostering program, transitional high needs program and disability program care arrangements.

    Referrals to the Hub occur for:

    • out of district Department foster care (carers in another district)
    • Department residential care (or another country district temporary care house)
    • CSO foster care
    • CSO family group homes
    • CSO Specialised Fostering Program
    • CSO Disability Placement and Support Program, and
    • CSO Transitional High Needs Program.

    The Hub may send a CAR back to the district via Assist after it has been received if further information or updates are required.

    After a referral to the Hub has been made, the district continues to be responsible for organising a care arrangement for the child and should remain actively involved with staff from the Hub

    Do not approach any CSO provider directly to discuss possible referrals. Staff at the Hub will liaise directly with possible providers.

    CSOs advise the Hub if a care arrangement is available within the following timeframes:

    • CSO foster care (24 hours)
    • CSO family group home (within five days)
    • CSO specialist fostering program (tender process - 10 working days)
    • CSO disability placement and support program (tender process - 10 working days)
    • CSO transitional high needs program (tender process - 10 working days)

    If an interim placement arrangement is required outside these timeframes, for example, when a child needs a care arrangement on the same day, contact the Hub as soon as possible to discuss the situation.

    When requested, and as part of the matching process, you should liaise with Hub staff to assist in the identification and facilitation of matching possible care arrangements. This may involve discussions and/or matching meetings with potential providers, such as other districts, when considering an out of district foster carer, residential care, temporary care houses in country districts, and CSOs when exploring care arrangements provided by them.

    Once a care arrangement has been identified by the Hub, you must contact the provider and share any additional relevant and agency specific information that is required by the carer for the care arrangement to proceed. Relevant information includes plans about the child held by the Department (for example care plans, education and cultural support plans) and relevant reports such as those about heath treatments or psychological assessments.

    When a child begins a care arrangement with a CSO carer, record the care arrangement, the carer's name and the carer's address on Assist.  For more information, see Assist User Guides – Living Arrangements (related resources)

    Referrals to Secure Care require a separate process. For more information refer to Chapter 3.3 –Secure Care Arrangements.

    Care arrangement transition meetings

    If a child is at risk of harming others, has seriously hurt another child in their care arrangement, or displays behaviours including using extreme violence or exhibiting harmful sexualised behaviours, you should do the following: 

    • Recognise the child is at risk of harming others and requires support. Uphold trauma-informed practice when working with the child as their behaviour is likely due to their own trauma experience.  
    • Ensure the immediate safety of all children involved and within the care arrangement. This may include seeking medical advice and/or police involvement.
    • Contact the district responsible for the child in the care arrangement who has been harmed or who is believed to be at risk. This district may want to be involved in safety planning.
    • The child who is at risk of harming others should be invited to participate in the safety planning process. The carers/family also need to be invited to participate. They should all be provided with details of the safety plan once it is created and kept up to date if any changes are made. 
    • A new care arrangement must be organised if the risk is considered too great and is unable to be managed through safety planning. 
    • A new care arrangement must be organised where a child is in a residential care home or setting with other children (including siblings), and you become aware they have reporting conditions under the Community Protection Offender Reporting Act.  
    • Consider if the current care arrangement can be maintained in a manner that ensures the safety of all parties involved.
    • Create an alert on Assist if the child who is at risk of harming others is to remain in the care arrangement with a safety plan in place. This alert must be removed if the child moves or if they are no longer at risk of harming others. 
    • Ensure you have spoken with the child who has been harmed/who is at risk of harm in the care arrangement. It is important that they have had the opportunity to raise any safety concerns and that their opinions and wishes are considered.

    Major transitions occur when a child enters the CEO's care, or when their care arrangement changes. Some transitions may be unplanned, for example, bringing a child into the CEO's care, or when a care arrangement breaks down and a new care arrangement is required. Transitions can be stressful and traumatic for the child, carers, parents and family.

    Where possible and appropriate, organise care arrangement transition meetings to plan for child's transition into the new care arrangement. These meetings are an opportunity to:

    • inform how the care arrangement will uphold the best interests of the child and meet their needs, including: the child's individual care arrangement requirements, the care plan and contact arrangements between agencies and significant others for the child, and 

    • consider how the child and carer will be supported, including how frequently the Department visits and other information relevant to the care arrangement. 

    Children must be included in important decision-making processes and have a right to decide if they wish to participate in the care arrangement transition meetings.

    If the child states they do not want to be a part of the meetings, the best interests of the child must be at the forefront of decision-making and the child must be provided with a full explanation of decisions made and why they were made.  

    For district-based care arrangements, a care arrangement transition meeting should be held with the carer or own district temporary care house (for country districts only), and other relevant care team members before the child begins their new care arrangement.

    In situations where a care arrangement transition meeting has not taken place before the beginning of a care arrangement, the meeting should be held as soon as possible.

    For referrals made to the Hub, care arrangement transition meetings occur as part of the matching process.  Liaise with the Hub during this process. The Hub will coordinate transition planning and, where appropriate, facilitate meetings for the following care arrangements:

    • Out of district Department foster care.
    • CSO specialist fostering programs.
    • CSO disability placement and support programs.
    • CSO transitional high needs programs.

    Transition planning should occur between the district and provider directly once a care arrangement has been identified and approved by the Hub. You should liaise with the provider to organise the meeting.

    Depending on the care arrangement and legal status of the child, care arrangement transition meetings, or any post care arrangement planning meetings, should occur within the following timeframes:

    • Interim placement arrangements: Within five days of the child beginning the care arrangement, so that a case planning decision about whether to proceed with a carer assessment for ongoing care can be made. For further information, refer to Chapter 3.1 – Family or significant other care.
    • Provisional protection and care: Within seven working days of the child coming into the CEO's care so that the provisional care plan can be completed. For further information, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Provisional Protection and Care and Care Planning.
    • Residential care arrangements: Within 10 days (or two days in a transitional high needs care arrangement) to allow the completion of the child's residential care plan. For further information, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Residential Care Services and the Residential Care Practice Manual Chapter 3.1 – Placement and Transition of a Child into and out of Department Residential Group Homes (Metro and Country).
    • Secure Care: Within two working days of the child being admitted to secure care, an initial planning meeting should be held.
    • CSO foster care, specialist fostering program, disability placement and support program or family group home care arrangements: Within 10 working days.
    • Moving care arrangements:  As soon as possible so the child's care plan can be modified on Assist to include the new care arrangements and reflect any other changes.

    Where a care arrangement cannot be found, a care arrangement strategy meeting should occur between the district and the Hub.  At this meeting, interim strategies should be identified along with identification of further information that needs to be obtained for an updated CAR to be made. Where new information is identified, or where a referral has been ongoing for at least four weeks, submit a new referral to the Hub. All care arrangements should be approved by the Hub as relevant checks and balances are required before a child can enter the care arrangement. 


    When a child enters a care arrangement

    Before making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal child, you must consult with:

    • The child, according to their age and level of understanding

    • Aboriginal members of the child's family

    • an Aboriginal Practice Leader, and

    • an Aboriginal person who has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community.

    Complete the information on Form 456 Request for Aboriginal Practice Leader Consultation and send the form to your Aboriginal Practice Leader for recommendations. On Assist, open the "Case Plan Consultation" and record all received recommendations.

    For Aboriginal and CaLD children, care arrangements must uphold the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and observe the CaLD placement Guidelines. For more information, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and Guidelines for the placement of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

    Relevant information you should record on Assist should include how the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle or the CaLD guidelines were upheld e.g., if the child is Aboriginal, which family and Aboriginal community members were consulted, the reasons as to why the child entered a care arrangement with an Aboriginal carer or non-Aboriginal carer.  

    When the child is transitioning to a new care arrangement, support both the child and carer and ensure they are both part of the planning process.

    Check that the child has been provided with the age-appropriate Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care and arrange to explain it to the child in way that they can understand.  For more information and for the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in the CEO's Care.

    At the commencement of all care arrangements (Department and CSO), provide the following to carers:

    You should discuss these documents with the carer or CSO provider so that they have a full and accurate knowledge of the child's needs.

    You should accompany the child to the care arrangement, introduce the carer to the child and support the child to settle in and be comfortable. The amount of support needed when taking the child to the care arrangement depends on the child's age and the relationship they may have with the carer. You should answer any queries the child or carer may have.

    To assist the child and carer, where relevant, you should:
    • accompany the carer to show the child around the home and explain the child's known routines and self-care abilities. This may include helping the child to understand where and how they can:
      • play and spend time with the family and others in the care arrangement
      • eat
      • sleep and spend time alone
      • wash and toilet
      • dress
      • discuss any rules and expectations
    • confirm any contact arrangements with family and friends
    • highlight critical information from the CAR about the child's health needs
    • establish that there are no inappropriate or dangerous items being brought to the care arrangement by the child, and
    • advise the child and the carer of:
      • your contact details and when you will visit next
      • specific dates and/or frequently of ongoing visits, and
      • care team members (where known) and how they will support the care arrangement including arrangements about when the next care team meeting will be held.