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3.4.1 Provisional Protection and Care and Care Planning

Last Modified: 29-Apr-2022 Review Date: N/A

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Provisional protection and care refers to the legal status of a child being in, taken into, or placed in, the care of the CEO. A child remains in provisional protection and care until an interim order, or a protection order is granted by the Children's Court OR if the child is returned to or placed in the care of a parent/ caregiver within two working days following intervention OR if the protection application is dismissed or withdrawn or the Court refuses to make an order.

If a child is in provisional protection and care, the CEO has responsibility for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child. This includes making decisions about any medical or dental examination, treatment, or procedure.

While a child is in provisional protection and care, the CEO does not have the authority to make long-term or permanent decisions in respect of the child.  The District Director should be consulted on any significant issues requiring approval or consent while a child is in provisional protection and care. In certain cases, the Court may make a determination on these issues.

Note:

 CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities. 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.

Rules
  • You must develop and implement a Provisional Care Plan within seven working days of the child entering the CEO's care

  • You must make an application for a protection order to the Court within two working days of executing a warrant (s.35).

  • If the child has been brought into the CEO's care without a warrant (s.37), and is not already the subject of protection proceedings, you must determine within two working days if there is enough safety for the child to return home or if it is in the child's best interests to make a protection application to the Court.

  • Before making a care arrangement for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child in provisional protection and care, you must consult with the Aboriginal Practice Leader and the child's family.  

Information and Instructions

  • Development of the Provisional Care Plan
  • Signs of Safety Meeting with the family (30 Day Family Meeting)
  • Care arrangements
  • Payment to the carer
  • Secure Care
  • Identifying the child’s citizenship
  • Grievances or disagreement about the Provisional Care Plan
  • When a child ceases to be in provisional protection and care
  • Development of the Provisional Care Plan


    Each child in provisional protection and care must have a Provisional Care Plan, unique to their individual physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, educational and developmental needs. Each plan should consider the child's age, maturity, sex, sexuality, background, and language and must be developed and implemented within 7 working days of a child entering provisional protection and care.

    Once developed, the plan should be reviewed every six months. If a decision in the plan is varied, revoked or substituted, or if new decisions are made, the Provisional Care Plan must be modified to reflect these changes as soon as practicable. These changes might include changes to contact, a care arrangement or if the Court makes an interim order.

    The Provisional Care Plan must include:

    • a basic outline of the child's needs while in provisional protection and care and proposals for how these needs will be met
    • initial decisions about the care arrangement for the child, including any shared care or short-break care arrangements
    • decisions about contact arrangements with people important to the child. This is likely to include the child's parents, siblings, other family members and may include friends, family friends, neighbours, or others
    • any other information relevant to the child,
    • a summary of how the Principle of child participation in s.10 of the Act was applied, subject to the child's age and level of understanding: that is, how the child contributed to decisions made, any assistance provided to help them participate in decision making processes and opportunities the child had to respond to the decisions made.
    • the wishes and views expressed by the child, with regard to the child's age and level of understanding, and
    • details of how the wishes and views of the child were obtained. 

    If the child has a disability, the Provisional Support Plan should document any actions and planning intended to overcome potential  difficulties or discrimination that the child may encounter. This includes identifying supports to ensure the child can participate fully and effectively in society.  

    Exploring a child’s wishes and views is critical in understanding what and who are important to them. Tools such as Three Houses and Words and Pictures can be used to capture this information.  


    Information in the Provisional Care Plan should be set-out according to the nine dimensions of care and recorded in the child's Child Information Portal (CIP) on Assist. The plan will be automatically approved to the Child History File in Objective, but as hard copy files are also required, you should print out the published version and place it on the physical Child History Folder.

    Copies of the Provisional Care Plan must be distributed to:

    • the child (unless the child is too young or lacks the maturity to understand)
    • the child's parents
    • the child's carers, and 
    • any other person considered by the CEO to have a direct and significant interest in the wellbeing of the child.

    If you believe that giving a copy of the provisional care plan to a party would pose an unacceptable risk to the child or another person, please consult the lawyer from LBS acting on behalf of the Department.

    A modification to the Provisional Care Plan can be made at any time without consultation, but inclusive practice principles should be followed wherever possible. This means including the child, the child's parents, family members and significant others in decision making processes. If language, differences in ability  or other practical issues arise as barriers to participation , Communities has a responsibility to arrange assistance through use of interpreters or support people, including professional advocates.

    As you have seven working days to develop a Provisional Care Plan, an internal meeting may not be practicable, however, internal consultation should be sought where appropriate. 

    Decisions made, documented and implemented through the child’s Provisional Care Plan should be consistent with the child’s cultural, ethnic and religious values and traditions relevant to the child. 


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    Signs of Safety Meeting with the family (30 Day Family Meeting)

    Wherever possible, use an interpreter or other appropriate person to assist communication where:

    • a person has difficulty understanding or communicating in English. This includes Aboriginal languages; or
    • a person whose disability prevents or restricts their understanding of, or participation in decision making or being able to express their wishes or views.

    If an interpreter is being used and the individual reads in a primary language other than English, ensure all relevant documents and letters are translated appropriately. For more information, see Chapter – 4.2 Language Services – Booking and Payment


    A Signs of Safety meeting with the family should occur within 30 working days of being in, taken into, or placed in, the care of the CEO. The purpose of this meeting is to identify any needs in respect of the child that have not already been identified or known, and to commence Stability and Connection Planning, inclusive of developing a trajectory towards reunification. 

    For more information on this meeting and how to prepare for it, see Chapter 3.4 – Stability and Connection.

    If required, an additional Signs of Safety meeting can be arranged with the family to discuss Provisional Care Planning. Consult with the Team Leader to determine if a separate meeting should be held and who should be invited to each one. The Team Leader has delegated approval to determine who should be invited

    Provisional Care Planning meetings follow a similar process to Care Planning Meetings. For information and advice on how to prepare for a Care Planning Meeting, see Chapter 3.4 – Care Planning.

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    Care arrangements

    Wherever possible, family members and significant others should be prioritised when making a care arrangement for a child in provisional protection and care. This promotes consideration of a child's best interests and is in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (outlined in detail below) to maintain the child's connection to family, culture and Country.

    Where the child is Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD), you must adhere to the relevant child placement principle. If the child is Aboriginal, you must consult with:

    • Aboriginal members of the child's family
    • an Aboriginal Practice Leader or other officer who is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander who, in the opinion of the CEO, has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community.

    If you need to organise a care arrangement for a child out of office hours, consult with the on-call Aboriginal Practice Leader or senior consultant in the Specialist Child Protection Unit (SCPU). If consultation with the on-call Aboriginal Practice Leader is not possible, or if a care arrangement is required urgently, appropriate consultation must take place as soon as practicable after the care arrangement has been made. For further information, see Chapter 3.4 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and Guidelines for the placement of children from culturally and linguistically diverse children

    A family or significant other care arrangement should be made wherever possible. Where this is not possible due to urgency or other practical considerations, the following types of care arrangements include:

    • emergency general foster care
    • general foster care
    • residential care (departmental or non-government)
    • family group homes, and
    • intensive specialised care arrangements. 

    Referrals to the Children and Carer Connection Hub for care arrangements not able to be sourced through the district are made via Assist using the Care Arrangement Referral (CAR). An updated CAR should also be provided to the child's carer at the outset of the care arrangement, so they are aware of the day-to-day care needs of the child, and any relevant safety concerns. For more information, see Chapter 3.4 – Care Arrangement Referral.  

    A Senior Child Protection Worker - Placement Services (SCPW-PS) should be involved in the process of identifying and organising appropriate care arrangements, particularly where the care arrangement is with a family member or other person significant to the child. If an interim placement arrangement is required and where the proposed carer is not already a registered foster carer, the person caring for the child must be assessed according to the regulations. Assessment and screening may also be required for others in the home. For further information, see Chapter 3.1 – Family or Significant Other Care and Chapter 3.1 – Interim Placement Arrangements

    If an interim placement arrangement is required for a child, approval to initiate an interim placement arrangement sits with the District Director or Assistant Direct Director. If this arrangement is made outside of business hours, a Team Leader from Statewide Referral and Response Service – Crisis Care Unit (SRRS-CCU) can approve the decision.

    Entering the CEO's care is often traumatic. The child's connections, stability, identity and sense of belonging can be severely negatively impacted, particularly when they are separated from parents, siblings and those closest to them. To maintain stability and connections for the child while in a placement arrangement, provide both the child, their carer and their family with consistent support and an opportunity to share their views and wishes.

    You must provide the child with adequate information to help them understand what is happening in their lives and why it is happening.

    Creating a Words and Pictures document can help the child, their family and other people significant to the child understand, in a manner and in language they understand:

    • the decision making processes
    • what decisions were made, and
    • why these decisions were made. 
     

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    Payment to the carer

    When a child enters a care arrangement, the subsidy payment is generated through Assist (agencies do not generally receive subsidies but are funded through service agreements).  Refer to Chapter – 3.5 Case management costs - basic subsidy provisions.

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    Secure Care

    A child already in provisional protection and care may be placed in the Kath French Secure Care Facility under a secure care arrangement if the CEO (and ultimately the Children's Court) is satisfied there is an immediate and substantial risk of the child causing harm significant harm to themselves or others and there is no other way suitable way to manage that risk (s.88C).  

    On occasions, a child may be brought into provisional protection and care at the time a secure care arrangement is made.  In these instances, the child will not already have a provisional care plan. 

    If…Then…
    A child is in provisional care and protection when a secure care arrangement is made and they do not have a Provisional Care Plan A Provisional Care Plan must be prepared as soon as practicable, but not more than two working days after the secure care arrangement has been made.
    A child is in provisional care and protection when a secure care arrangement is made and they do have a Provisional Care Plan A modification to the Provisional Care Plan must be made as soon as practicable, but not more than two working days after the secure care arrangement is made.

    Additional information is required in the child's Provisional Care Plan when they are in secure care, including:

    • information about the child's unique needs while they are in secure care.
    • the child's needs as they transition from secure care to other living arrangements, and
    • the steps and measures that will be taken to address those needs and to reduce the likelihood of the child requiring a secure care arrangement again.

    For more information about secure care, see Chapter 3.3 – Secure Care Arrangements.

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    Identifying the child’s citizenship

    When a child enters provisional protection and care, identify the child's citizenship as soon as possible. If the child's parents have a temporary or special visa, the child will have the same visa.

    This information is important if reunification is not successful, and a protection order (until 18) is granted. If this occurs the Department must apply for a child visa (subclass 802) from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), a process that can take between 12 and 15 months. The current four year waiting period for Centrelink entitlements starts from the date the visa was granted. If the young person turns 18 years before the end of the waiting period, you may need to help the young person apply for Special Benefits.

    Record the child's citizenship and visa status in Assist in 'Person Details' (Identity and Culture Tab) and in the child's Provisional Care Plan manually, as this information does not auto-populate.

    Visa status information should be obtained from the child's parents and family in the first instance. If this is not possible, obtain the information from DHA under s.23 using the Request for Personal Information form (in related resources). Email the completed form to privacy@homeaffairs.wa.gov.au. For more information, see Chapter 3.4.2 Care Planning.  

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    Grievances or disagreement about the Provisional Care Plan

    Decisions made as part of a Provisional Care Plan are not reviewable by the Care Plan Review Panel or the State Administrative Tribunal. The Department has authority for day-to-day decisions about the care of the child while that child is in provisional care but does not have permanent or long-term decision making authority.

    If a parent, carer, the child, or any other person significant to the child has a grievance or strongly disagrees with a decision in the Provisional Care Plan, they can:

    • discuss their concerns with you, with the Team Leader or another worker who has contributed significantly to the development of the Provisional Care Plan.
    • discuss their concerns with the Assistant District Director or the District Director as part of a formal complaint procedure, or
    • where they are a party to the protection proceedings, make an application to the Court for an interim order under s.133 of the Act.

    You must ensure that the child, the child's parents and other people significant to the child are aware of the above processes for raising concerns, lodging a complaint or making an application to the Court. This information must be provided to them in a manner and in language they understand, and if they have any difficulties engaging in these processes due to language barriers or disability, they should be offered appropriate support to participate. If an individual wishes to seek a resolution via the Court, they should additionally be encouraged to seek legal support. 

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    When a child ceases to be in provisional protection and care

    A child ceases to be in provisional protection and care if:

    • the child is returned to the care of their parents or is placed in the care of another person and a decision is made not to make a protection application under s.38(2) or 3(b). A child may be cared for by a family member with the permission of the parents as part of an informal family arrangement. This arrangement may or may not include an agreement to seek formal orders through the Family Court.
    • the Court makes an interim order under s.133(2)(a) for the child to be returned to or is placed with a parent
    • the Court makes an interim order under s.133(2)(c) of the Act that the child is to be placed with a person approved by the Court following an oral or written report from the CEO as to the person's suitability
    • the Court makes a protection order, or
    • the Court dismisses the protection application and/or refuses to make a protection order.
    • The protection application is withdrawn

    If a child transitions from provisional protection and care to a protection order (time limited) or (until 18), their Provisional Care Plan becomes a Care Plan. For more information, see Chapter 3.4 – Care Planning

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