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2.1.7 Responding to concerns for children in care - allegations of abuse in care

Last Modified: 01-Mar-2022 Review Date: 04-Apr-2021

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Allegations of Abuse in Care are a type of Duty of Care Notification. This type of notification is required when there has been a disclosure or allegation of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of a child in the CEO's care which meets the threshold for further investigation to determine whether a child has experienced harm.

Allegations of Abuse in Care can be raised about:

  • an approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory
  • a Department employee
  • a Community Service Organisation (CSO) employee, or
  • a relative (as defined by s.3 Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act).

If there are immediate concerns for the safety of a child in the CEO's care you must prioritise addressing them. 

There are three types of Allegations of Abuse in Care notifications:

  • Allegations of Abuse in Care
  • Allegations of Abuse After Care, and
  • Allegations of Abuse Prior to Care.

Allegations of Abuse in Care generally result in two processes occurring: 

  1. A CSI, and
  2. A Carer Investigation in relation to approved carers.

Where the concerns relate to a Department employee, refer to Chapter 2.1 Responding to concerns about Employees.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).

Rules
  • When you have confirmed that the concerns meet the threshold for a Child Safety Investigation (CSI) you must notify the senior child protection worker placement services (SCPWPS) and request a consult with the Duty of Care Unit (DoCU).

  • You must record the Interaction on Assist and progress the matter to a CSI. This will automatically generate a Duty of Care Notification for the child in care. 

Information and Instructions

  • Quick Reference: Definition, recording and outcome report
  • Carer Investigations and Child Safety Investigations
  • Allegations of Abuse in Care by a Community Service Organisation Approved Carer
  • Allegations of Abuse in Care and Community Service Organisation Employees
  • Review of Carer Investigation Recommendations
  • Quick Reference: Definition, recording and outcome report

    Allegations of Abuse in Care

    Definition

    Recording Requirements

    Outcome Report

    Allegation of Abuse in Care Notifications are recorded for children who are in the CEO's care in relation to allegations of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of the child by:

    An approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory.

    A CSO employee who provides care to a child.

    A Department employee.

    A member of the child's family. 

    AND

    The interaction tool indicates a CSI is required. 

    All Notifications generated from a CSI will default to the type 'Allegation of Abuse in Care'.           

    Auto-generated from CSI

    Completed by CPW

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by assistant district director (ADD)

    CSI Outcome Report
       

    Allegations of Abuse After Care

    Definition

    Recording Requirements

    Outcome Report

    Allegation of Abuse After Care Notifications are recorded where it is alleged a child (or adult) experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect as a child while they were in the CEO's care but the allegation is made after the child has left care. 

    These Notifications are required when the disclosure is made by a child or an adult.

    These Notifications are generally only required to document allegations of abuse by:

    An approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory.

    A CSO employee who provided care to the child.

    A Department employee.

    AND

    The Interaction Tool indicates that a CSI is required (for children only).

    Child - auto-generated from CSI

    Adult - manually generated from 360 degree view by CPW

    Completed by CPW who receives the allegation

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    CSI Outcome Report if a CSI is recorded or Form 466 Duty of Care Outcome Report if a CSI isn't recorded.
     

    Allegations of Abuse Prior to Care

    Definition

    Recording Requirements

    Outcome Report

    These Notifications capture allegations of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of a child where the alleged harm occurred prior to the child coming into the CEO's care but the disclosure (or allegation) was made after the child came into the care of the CEO.

    The Notifications should only be recorded if the disclosure or allegation relates to abuse by a member of the child's family 

    AND

    The interaction tool indicates a CSI is required

    Auto-generated from CSI

    Completed by CPW

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    CSI Outcome Report
     

    Carer Investigation

    Definition

    Recording Requirements

    Outcome Report

    These Notifications are recorded when a Carer Investigation is commenced by the DoCU when there is an allegation of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of a child by an approved carer on the Foster Carer Directory

    AND

    The interaction tool indicates a CSI is required for the child

    Manually generated from the carer's 360 degree view and completed by the senior investigations officer, DoCU

    Approved by the Manager, DoCU

    Carer Investigation Outcome Report
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    Carer Investigations and Child Safety Investigations

    The following are some scenarios when you should apply the Interaction Tool:

    • You have received information or an allegation of possible abuse of a child by a carer, employee or member of the child's family.

    • You are not sure if a matter pertains to a standard of care concern or allegation of abuse in care. 

    • You have received three concerns about the same child and same carer within a six month period.

    For further information on how to respond concerns relating to an approved foster carer, please refer to the Responding to Concerns about Approved Foster Carers Flowchart (in related resources).

    You must also consider if a Critical Incident Briefing (CIB) is required.  Refer to the Critical Incident Briefing Procedure and associated Policy in Related Resources for guidance.  In certain circumstances, both a CIB and a Duty of Care Notification may be required. For guidance on when to complete a CIB, please refer to the CIB Policy.



    If you receive an allegation of abuse that occurred prior to a child entering care, you should apply the Interaction Tool to determine whether a CSI is required. There is a specific Duty of Care Notification type of Allegations of Abuse Prior to Care that is used in these cases. 

    For concerns relating to CSO carers, refer to the Community Service Organisation Protocols 2020.


     

    Carer Investigation

    Child Safety Investigation

    The DoCU must determine the carer's compliance with the competencies outlined in r.4 Children and Community Services Regulations 2006.

    The Carer Investigation is an information gathering and analysis process that includes interviewing the carers to inform the decision to proceed or not proceed with the revocation of a carer's approval.  

    The district must follow the guidance set out in Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation to determine whether or not the child has experienced harm as a result of abuse and/or neglect.


    You must make the decision about proceeding with a CSI for a child in the CEO's care in consultation with a TL. 

    When you have confirmed that the concerns meet the threshold for a CSI you must notify the SCPWPS and request a consult with the DoCU. 

    You must record the Interaction on Assist and progress the matter to a CSI. This will automatically generate a Duty of Care Notification for the child in the CEO's care. 

    Consult with DoCU, to discuss a plan to address the reported concerns as a priority.

    You must complete the Duty of Care Notification, selecting the relevant type as either:

    • Allegation of Abuse in Care
    • Allegation of Abuse After Care, or
    • Allegation of Abuse Prior to Care.

    Refer to the Minimum information required in all notifications template for headings and further information. The Notification is sent to your TL for endorsement.

    The ADD approves the Notification and DoCU quality assures and creates a Duty of Care file in Objective. The Manager, DoCU then allocates the Carer Investigation to a senior investigations officer. 

    The DoCU must undertake a Carer Investigation when:

    • allegations of abuse in care are recorded against an approved carer, as part of a CSI, or
    • other circumstances are endorsed by the Manager, DoCU, as requiring an independent Carer Investigation.

    For carer assessments of carers with children in a placement under Section 79(2)(b) of the Act, Standard of Care Concerns or Allegations of Abuse in Care must be addressed as part of the carer assessment.



    The CSI and Carer Investigation occur concurrently. 

    The DoCU will convene a joint investigation planning meeting with relevant Department staff at the outset, to discuss and plan for the Carer Investigation and CSI.

    Once Allegations of Abuse in Care have been raised, carers must be provided with opportunities to debrief.

    For Department carers, opportunities to debrief must be provided with a SCPWPS, a Department psychologist or by a referral to an external provider through the Employee Assistance Program. Refer to Chapter 3.1 Supporting carers for further information.

    For CSO carer or employees, debriefing remains the responsibility of the CSO. 

    Roles and Responsibilities 

    CPW

     

    1. Undertakes a CSI as per the practice guidance available in Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation.

    2. Consults with the DoCU and continues to liaise with them during the investigation.

    SCPWPS

     

    1. Amends the carer status on Assist to "Under Review".

    2. Places an Alert on Assist, against the carer, stating that the carer is "Under Review" and that no further care arrangements should be made with the carer.

    Senior Investigations Officer, Duty of Care

    1. Records a Carer Investigation Notification against the carer.

    2. Reviews the carer's care arrangement history and assesses the need to undertake a CSI for other children currently and previously placed with the carer.

    3. Convene a joint investigation planning meeting with the relevant Department staff.

    4. Consults with an Aboriginal Practice Leader if the allegation involves Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander carers.

    5. For culturally and linguistically diverse families, refer to the Principal Policy and Planning Officer, Cultural Diversity: Eduardo.Farate@communities.wa,gov.au, or consult with a colleague who can provide relevant cultural information.  

    6. Reviews the safety plan for all  children in the care arrangement or household, including the carer's own children or other children who may visit the home.

    7. Liaises with the CPW to clarify the process for notifying the carer in a timely manner.

    8. Provides the "What happens if a foster child says I have hurt them?" Booklet or Factsheet to the carer to ensure the carer is informed about the CSI and the Carer Investigation process.

    9. Ensures  carer has a support person.

    10. Identifies the tasks that need to be undertaken and associated timeframes, in consultation with the CPW and the CSO (if relevant).

    11. Interviews the carer and others as per the investigation plan.

    12. Reviews Department files for the carers and children.

    13. Ensures the carer is  given the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them.

    14. Tracks the progress of the investigation and reviews the  plan as required.

    15. Keeps the carer and/or the CSO informed of the investigation's progress.

    16. Advise the carer and CSO in writing of the findings and recommendations of the investigatiion.

     



     

    If at any stage during the Carer Investigation process, you become aware that the carer has been issued with an Interim Negative Notice or a Negative Notice under the Working With Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WWC Act): 

    1. You must remove the child placed with that carer immediately, or verify that the carer has been removed from the care arrangement household.

    2. In consultation with DoCU (where they are managing the Carer Investigation) you must commence the process for revocation of the carer's approval.  Refer to Chapter 3.1 Revocation of carer's approval for details of this process.

    3. If an approved carer is charged with, or convicted of, a Class 1 or Class 2 offence under the WWC Act, or any other offence that in our assessment renders the carer inappropriate for child-related work, you must notify the Department's Screening Unit. 

    You should complete the CSI within 30 days. The approval process depends on the recommended outcome of the CSI.  

    Before the CSI is approved there is a final review meeting between the district conducting the CSI, DoCU and the CSO (where relevant). The purpose of this meeting is to share the findings of the CSI and Carer Investigation before either process is finalised and ensure that both processes have been thorough.

    If…

    Then…

    ​You recommend harm is not substantiated
    ​The CSI is endorsed by the TL and approved by the district director (DD)
    ​You recommend likelihood of harm is substantiated
    ​The CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    ​You recommend that actual harm is substantiated
    ​You must consider the AHCR criteria and determine whether someone can be named as AHCR, and the CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    ​You recommend that actual harm is substantiated, and that the carer is recorded as causing actual harm and being a continuing risk (AHCR)
    You must consider the AHCR criteria and determine whether someone can be named as AHCR. The CSI is endorsed by the DD and approved by the ED or RED.


    Once the CSI is approved you must send it to the senior investigations officer, DoCU.

    The senior investigations officer will complete the Carer Investigation, a report containing their holistic assessment identifying individual, district and systemic issues. The timeframe for completion of their report is 30 days, but an extension can be endorsed by the Manager, DoCU.

    The process for managing the outcome of the Carer Investigation:

    1. The CSI is completed by the district and the outcome is documented in the Carer Investigation Report.

    2. The final report is quality assured and endorsed by the Manager, DoCU and approved by the Director, Standards and Integrity.

    3. The final report is then forwarded, with the CSI Outcome Report via the DD to the relevant Executive Director.

    4. The Executive Director has authority to endorse and direct implementation of the recommendations in relation to Department carers.

    5. The Director Non-Government Policy and Funding has authority to endorse and direct implementation of the recommendations in relation to CSOs.

    The Carer Investigation will make findings about whether the carer meets each of the competencies under r.4(1)(a)(b) of the Regulations and recommendations about the carer's approval status is based on this.

    The recommendations inform the director's decisions about whether the carer's status should be revoked or not.

    The DoCU will notify the carer in writing of the endorsed recommendations of the Carer Investigation, as well as their right to request a review, in writing, within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

    If revocation of the carer's approval is recommended then follow the process set out in Chapter 3.1 Revocation of carer's approval (foster, family or significant other)

    You must save the Carer Investigation Report to the child's file where appropriate.

    The DoCU will save the report to the Duty of Care file and the carer's file.  

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    Allegations of Abuse in Care by a Community Service Organisation Approved Carer

    ​You must notify the SCPWPS and request a consult with the DoCU.

    You must record the Interaction on Assist and progress the matter to a CSI. This will automatically generate a Duty of Care Notification for the child in the CEO's care.

    You must complete the Duty of Care Notification selecting the type as Allegation of Abuse in Care.  Refer to the Minimum information required in all notifications template for headings and further information. The Notification is sent to your TL for endorsement.

    The ADD approves the Notification and the DoCU quality assures it and creates a Duty of Care file in Objective. The Manager, DoCU then allocates the Carer Investigation to a senior investigations officer.

    The DoCU must undertake a Carer Investigation when:

    • Allegations of Abuse in Care are recorded against an approved carer, as part of a CSI, or
    • other circumstances are endorsed by the Manager, DoCU, as requiring an independent Carer Investigation.
     
    The CSI and Carer Investigation occur concurrently.

    The DoCU  convene a joint investigation planning meeting with relevant Department staff at the outset, to discuss and plan for the Carer Investigation and CSI. The roles and related tasks are detailed below.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    CPW must:

    1. Undertake a CSI as per the practice guidance in Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation.

    2. Consult with the DoCU and continue to liaise with them during the investigation.

    CSO must:

    1. Advise the custodian of the Foster Carer Directory of the Allegation of Abuse in Care and request that the carer's status be changed to "Under Review".

    2. Advise the carers that an Allegation of Abuse in Care has been made against them and will be followed up by the DoCU.

    3. Advise the carers if a referral to WA Police has been made without discussing the details of the Allegation of Abuse in Care.

    Custodian of the Foster Carer Directory must:

    1. Change the carer status to "Under Review" on Assist and record an alert to this effect.

                             DoCU will:

    1. Create a Duty of Care file in Objective.

    2. Record a Carer Investigation Notification for the carer.

    3. Review the carer's care arrangement history and assess the need to undertake a CSI for other children currently and previously placed with the carer.

    4. Convene a joint investigation planning meeting with the CSO, CPW, the TL, the Aboriginal Practice Leader if the allegation involves Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander carers and/or children.

    5. Refers to the Principal Policy and Planning Officer, Cultural Diversity for culturally and linguistically diverse families, or consults with a colleague who can provide relevant cultural information or the relevant senior officer in the Specialist Child Protection Practice Unit.

    6. Review the safety plan for all the children in the care arrangement or household, including the carer's own children or other children who may visit the home.

    7. Clarify the process to advise the carer about allegations, including who, what and when the carer will be advised. The carer should be advised of the concern in a timely manner.

    8. Provide the "What happens if a foster child says I have hurt them?" Booklet or Fact sheet to the carer to ensure the carer  is informed about the CSI and the Carer Investigation process.

    9. Ensure that the carer has a support person.

    10. Identify the tasks that need to be undertaken and associated timeframes, in consultation with the CPW and the CSO (if relevant).

    11. Interview carer and others as per investigation plan.

    12. Review Department files for the carers and children.

    13. Ensure carers are given the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them.

    14. Track the progress of the investigation and the review investigation plan as appropriate.

    15. Keep the carer and/or the CSOs informed of the investigation's progress.

    16. Advise the carer and CSO in writing of the findings and recommendations of the investigation.

    Once Allegations of Abuse in Care have been raised, carers must be provided with opportunities to debrief.

    For Department carers, opportunities to debrief must be provided with a SCPWPS, a Department psychologist or by a referral to an external provider through the Employee Assistance Program. Refer to Chapter 3.1 Supporting carers for further information.

    For CSO carer or employees, debriefing remains the responsibility of the CSO. 

    When there are CSIs across multiple districts, the DoCU may take an additional coordination role.
     

    The joint planning meeting will consider:

    • the immediate safety of the child and or children
    • clarification and summary of the concerns
    • what information is provided to the carer and by whom
    • what information is provided to the parents or significant others
    • police involvement if required
    • status of approval on the Foster Care Directory, depending on the nature of the allegation and until the assessment of the carer is complete the carer's status is recorded as under review
    • safety of any other children with the carer, including their own children
    • support to carers and or agency
    • who is to be provided with the plan
    • what reports or other information will be forthcoming
    • the carer interview
    • progress reporting
    • allocation of tasks, and
    • timeframe for actions and the review meeting.

    You should complete the CSI in 30 days. The approval process depends on the recommended outcome. 

    If…

    Then…

    You recommend harm is not substantiatedThe CSI is endorsed by the TL and approved by the DD
    You recommend likelihood of harm is substantiated​The CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    You recommend that actual harm is substantiated​​​You must consider the AHCR criteria and determine whether someone can be named as AHCR, and the CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    ​​You recommend that actual harm is substantiated, and that the carer is recorded as causing actual harm and being a continuing risk (AHCR)The CSI is endorsed by the DD and approved by the relevant Executive Director Service Delivery

     

    Before the CSI is approved there is a final review meeting between the district conducting the CSI, the DoCU, and the CSO (where relevant).

    The purpose of this meeting is to share the findings of the CSI and Carer Investigation before either process is finalised and ensure that both processes have been thorough.

     

    Once the CSI is approved it must be sent to the senior investigations officer from the DoCU.

    The senior investigations officer completes the Carer Investigation, a report containing their holistic assessment identifying individual, district and systemic issues. The timeframe for completion of their report is 30 working days, but an extension can be endorsed by the Manager, DoCU. 

    ​If, at any stage during the Carer Investigation process, the Department becomes aware that the carer has been issued with an Interim Negative Notice or a Negative Notice under the Working With Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004:

    1. You must remove the child placed with that carer immediately, or verify that the carer has been removed from the care arrangement.

    2. In consultation with the DoCU (where they are managing the Carer Investigation), you must commence the process for revocation of the carer's approval. For details of this process refer to Chapter 3.1 Revocation of a carer's approval.

    3. If an approved carer is charged with, or convicted of, a Class 1 or Class 2 offence under the WWC Act, or any other offence that in the assessment renders the carer inappropriate for child-related work, you must be notify the Department's Screening Unit .

     

    The process for managing the outcome of the Carer Investigation is:

    1. The CSI is completed by the district and the outcome is documented in the Carer Investigation Report.

    2. The final report is quality assured and endorsed by the Manager, DoCU and then approved by the Director, Standards and Integrity

    3. The final report is then forwarded, with the CSI Outcome Report via the DD to the relevant Executive Director.

    4. The Executive Director has authority to endorse and direct implementation of the recommendations in relation to Department carers.

    5. The Director Non-Government Policy and Funding has authority to endorse and direct implementation of the recommendations in relation to CSOs.

    The Carer Investigation will make findings about whether the carer meets each of the competencies as required under r.4(1)(a) and (b) of the Regulations and recommendations about the carer's approval status based on this. The recommendations inform the director's decisions about whether the carer's status should be revoked or not.

    The Carer Investigation report is not provided to the CSO, but the DoCU will write to them advising them of the findings and recommendations made.
     

    The DoCU notify the carer and CSO in writing of the endorsed recommendations of the Carer Investigation, as well as their right to request a review, in writing, within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

    At the conclusion of the assessment any future action should be discussed. This may include:

    • decisions and plans for the subject child or children
    • CSO decisions in relation to the carer(s) or others concerned, based on the Department's recommendations
    • status of approval on the Foster Carer Directory
    • planning for any other children placed with the carer
    • supports and training put in place for the carer, or
    • other recommendations for the CSO and/or the Department. 
    You must save the Carer Investigation report to the child's file (where appropriate).

    The DoCU will save the report to the Duty of Care file and the carer's file. 

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    Allegations of Abuse in Care and Community Service Organisation Employees

    You must notify the SCPWPS and request a consult with the DoCU.

    You must record the Interaction on Assist and progress the matter to a CSI. This will automatically generate a Duty of Care Notification for the child in care.

    You must complete the Duty of Care Notification selecting the type as Allegation of Abuse in Care.  Refer to the Minimum information required in all notifications template for headings and information. The notification is sent to your TL for endorsement and then to the ADD for approval.

    The DoCU will quality assure the notification.

    The Department does not conduct carer investigations in relation to CSO employees. Concerns of this nature about a CSO employee are addressed by the Department as part of the CSI.

    CSOs must not interview children, carers or employees regarding the allegations or conduct investigation in to the allegations.

    You must organise an initial planning meeting involving:

    • Case managers and TL for all the children in the placement
    • A representative from the CSO (nominated by the CSO), and
    • Any other relevant staff such as Aboriginal Practice Leaders, psychologists, education officers, etc.

    The purpose of the meeting is to ensure:

    • All parties are aware of, and have some information about, the concerns
    • The views of all parties are considered
    • Clear plans are developed to respond to the concerns
    • Appropriate plans are in place to keep the children safe and the carers safe from further allegations (including the perception that they have had the opportunity to influence the children in their disclosures), and
    • The plan should also address how information will be shared with all of the key stakeholders.
      
    ​The CSO employee may be stood down as a result of the allegations. While the decision to stand down an employee rests with the CSO, you must make every effort to complete the CSI earlier than the 30 day timeframe to minimise the impact on the employee.

    The approval process depends on the recommended outcome. 

    If…

    Then…

    You recommend harm is not substantiatedThe CSI is endorsed by the TL and approved by the DD
    You recommend likelihood of harm is substantiated​The CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    You recommend that actual harm is substantiated​​​You must consider the AHCR criteria and determine whether someone can be named as AHCR, and the CSI is endorsed by the ADD and approved by the DD
    ​​You recommend that actual harm is substantiated and that the carer is recorded as causing actual harm and being a continuing risk (AHCR)The CSI is endorsed by the DD and approved by the relevant Executive Director Service Delivery

    Before the CSI is approved there is a final review meeting between the district conducting the CSI, the DoCU and the CSO (where relevant).

    The purpose of this meeting is to share the findings of the CSI before either process is finalised.

    The outcome of the CSI must be provided in writing to the employee and the CEO of the CSO.  

    For further information on how to respond to concerns relating to an employee of a CSO, please refer to the Responding to Concerns in relation to CSO Employees Providing Direct Care Flowchart (in related resources)

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    Review of Carer Investigation Recommendations

    ​The DoCU will notify the carer in writing of the endorsed recommendations of the Carer Investigation, as well as their right to request a review, in writing, within 30 days of receipt of the letter.

    The carer's request must be addressed to the Director, Standards and Integrity.

    Upon receipt of the request the Director will write to the carer to advise them that a formal review has been requested by a work unit independent of the DoCU, such as theSpecialist Child Protection Practice Unit and that the carer will receive the reviewer's details once allocated.

    Once a reviewer is allocated, the Director, Standards and Integrity writes to the carer and provides them with the name and contact details of the reviewer. The carer is also advised the review will be limited to:

    • if the Carer Investigation was undertaken in accordance with the Department's practice guidance, and
    • whether there is sufficient evidence to support the findings and recommendations of the Carer Investigation.

    Once the review has been completed and received by the Director Standards and Integrity, the Director will write to the carer again and advise them of the outcome of the review.

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